As the OUS project is constantly expanding, its obvious to me that we need more skilled people to help run and promote the platform. I am therefore very pleased to confirm Matt Hicks, Jennifer Birch (aka Astraluna) and Richard Sabey (owner of The Woolpack Studios) to the main team. Each of these folks has unique skills and crucially a passion and shared vision for ORIGINAL UKULELE based songs
Matt Hicks was born and raised in Cambridge, UK until he joined the Royal Navy in 1998. He has been writing and performing songs for far longer than he’s prepared to admit predominantly on guitar with which he built a strong reputation as a strong songwriter. During his time in the folk world Matt played at the Edinburgh Fringe and supported established artists such as Mike Silver and Martyn Joseph. 10 years ago he took up the ukulele for something different and to have something with strings he could fit in his bunk onboard his ship. Since then the Uke has become as important an instrument as his guitar. Matt writes most of his songs on the Uke knowing that if it works on this machine it’ll work full stop.
On the ukulele Matt is known for his adapted clawhammer technique and his Americana , folk, blues style which to date has set him apart from many other performers. Matt is a great believer in music thriving in community and was musical director of the Plymouth Ukulele players in its early days and has developed songwriter showcase evenings. Having fully found his voice on the Uke, Matt is now frequenting the Ukulele festivals and can be seen gigging in Plymouth and Brighton. He is immensely proud to be part of the OUS project.
Jennifer Birch (Astraluna)
(Jericho Keys, BBC Introducing York & North Yorkshire)
(Richard Dowling, Fresh on the Net)
(Uke Magazine, December 2016)
Richard Sabey has run the Woolpack Music Studios, a multi-purpose arts hub in the centre of Otley, since 2011. As well as high quality recording and rehearsal facilities, the Studios also host a variety of community and youth music projects and ensembles run by Richard and his colleague Jennifer Birch(well known in the ukulele world in both her own name and also as Astraluna-whose album The Pass of Storms was recorded and produced at the Studios)- such as ukulele, guitar, song-writing, music production and technology courses.
Since starting his community arts career in 1998 Richard has specialised in delivering music projects for young people and for community groups of all ages as well as schools, education authorities and charities. Projects are usually designed to be accessible to people who may not have much previous musical experience, as well as developing and nurturing musical talent. Projects often involve enabling people to create their own music and often make use of music technology. Richard has worked extensively with people with a variety of backgrounds and needs – such as with young people and adults with disabilities (learning or physical), mental health support groups,drug/alcohol dependent adults, and prisoners.