Brisbane Ukulele Musicians Society Incorporated (BUMS Inc) is a Brisbane-based ukulele society, formed on 2 May 2007 at about 13 past 2 and a half beers. BUMS started as a small group of enthusiasts helping each other to learn to play ukulele. Founding members, Sammy Lovejoy and Danny Loyden, invited a few friends to the first meeting at the New Farm Tiki Bar. Following the initial meeting, they ran the group for approximately two years.
David Megarrity (better known these days as the taller fez-wearing half of the popular duo Tyrone & Lesley) gifted the acronym BUMS to the group. This core group led a small but growing number of BUMS. During the early days, they met at the New Farm Tiki Bar, Paddington’s Kookaburra Cafe and a Hook Photographic Studio, before landing at the Coorparoo Bowls Club.
Bruce Uhlhorn became a ‘reluctant leader’ of the group when they moved to the Bowen Hills photographic studio below his office. To formalise our growing organisation, the management committee of 2009, Bruce Uhlhorn (President), Judy Holdaway (Secretary) and Garry Collins (Treasurer), organised the incorporation of the society in May 2010. By 2022, our membership expanded to over 300.
In ukulele terms, a jam is a gathering of ukulele players who are led through a series of songs and play and sing along.
During 2010, over 100 members and visitors met monthly at Coorparoo Jams. Smaller jams were also held monthly by Blair Marks at The Joint, and Geoff Smith and Cesca Lejeune at Black Star Coffee, West End. In 2012, Tony Richardson established a Northside Jam at the Chermside Bowls Club. The Northside Jam moved to the Northern Suburb Bowls Club at Wavell Heights in 2014.
As the song selections for jams increased in sophistication, Paul Morris identified a need for a beginners’ jam. In 2014, Paul and Linda Gough established the new beginners jam at The Grove Sports Club (aka Ferny Grove Bowls Sport & Community Club), and Derek Farrell catered for intermediate and advanced players by offering fingerstyle workshops before the jam. Later that year, Sue and Peter Sercombe began offering daytime jams, first at the Indooroopilly Bowls Club, and later at the Toowong Bowls Club.
After The Joint venue became unavailable for jams, Blair Marks established a jam at The Scratch Bar at Milton. In addition, up until March 2017, he led the Paper Moon Music Jam at the Paper Moon Cafe at Annerley with Bec Hull, Erin Harrington and Gosia Rakiej. Around this time, WE BUMS found a new home at the Hope Street Cafe in Boundary Street, in March 2017.
Then in May 2018, Andrew Hunt and Blair Marks established the Samual Grays jam at Albany Creek. Also, the then President, Max Borchardt drew TuTus jam at West Toowong under the BUMS Inc umbrella. Early in 2018, Peter Grace and Andrew Hunt took over from Tony Richardson at Northside. Meanwhile, Max Borchardt assumed responsibility for organising set leaders for West End and Coorparoo jams.
In September 2019, Samual Grays Jam took a break when the business was sold. Eventually the jam resumed in December 2019 as the Albany Creek Jam. The Toowong Bowls Club closed down in November 2019 and Sue and Peter moved their BUMS Daytime Jam to delightful new premises at Sinnamon Park.
BUMS Inc jams were held at eight Brisbane locations — Albany Creek, Coorparoo, Ferny Grove, Milton, Sinnamon Park, Wavell Heights, West End, and West Toowong.
2020 BUMS ONLINE
In March 2020, face-to-face jams were suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Media Manager, Jo Kunde, IT Manager John Henderson, and Properties Manager, Andrew Hunt investigated a range of online options for keeping our members strumming. By the beginning of May, Jo and Andrew launched BUMS Online on Facebook.
BUMS Online hosted jams in May, June and July 2020. Extraordinary membership for extraordinary times was introduced to enable as many people as possible to take advantage of BUMS Online. Free associate membership offered to new members on a short term basis allowed as many people as possible to participate.
Members who miss the BUMS Online jams can play along to recordings uploaded to the Facebook site. Members also upload open mics and mini tutorials.
COVID continued to impact gathering together for live events. Jams started back at our four largest venues that could hold enough people with social distancing: Coorparoo, Westside, Ferny Grove and Northside. We started ticketing the jams through Trybooking to manage room capacity and reduce money handling. Due to changing health directives and lock-downs many jams were cancelled.
Gradually jams came back to 'normal'. Max Borchardt managed the Coorparoo Jam, Sue and Peter Sercombe ran the Westside Jam, Linda Gough and Paul Morris ran the Ferny Grove Jam and Peter Grace and Andrew Hunt ran the Northside Jam (now at Geebung Bowls Club). Merv Harcourt and Steve Sandilands started an Eastside jam at Wynnum.
Our five big jams attracted over 50 players to each session. Blair Marks kicked off the Scratch Bar Jam again but when that venue closed on a Sunday, he and Andrew Hunt moved to Flat Lizard Brewing in Stafford. Merv and Barbro Harcourt moved to West End and started the WE BUMS Jam at the Archive Boutique Brewery. Andrew Hunt has run a GeeBUMS Jam and open mic session at Geebung Bowls Club. Our months are looking very busy.
BUMS Inc runs a number of community bands that perform at community and charity events around Brisbane and at festivals in Queensland and interstate. Find specific information about each of our community bands in the gallery on our Be A Performer web page.
The BUMS Inc Performing web page promotes our members (individuals and groups) who enjoy performing. More importantly, it provides information about joining our BUMS Inc Community bands. Concerts and workshops, and a biennial ukulele festival, give members opportunities to perform, enjoy quality ukulele performances, and expand their musical skills.
Until COVID came along and messed up our planning, BUMS Inc ran a ukulele festival in Brisbane every odd year, while Newcastle hosted Newkulele, our sister festival each every year. Beginning in 2011, Brisbane’s Big Uke Jam held performances on the QPAC green and ran workshops at the Coorparoo Bowls Club. In subsequent years, BUMS hosted larger three-day events called SPRUKE — Brisbane’s Ukulele Festival.
- 2013, 2015 and 2017 at the South Bank TAFE campus, South Brisbane
- 2019 at the Sunnybank Performing Arts Centre and Sunnybank Community and Sports Club. Megan Thomson organised an exciting addition to the 2019 festival program — the inaugural SPRUKE School’s Concert.
- 2022 a ten-day festival at multiple venues. The main event was ‘SPRUKE on the Square’ at King George Square in the centre of Brisbane.
Our Management Committee strives to bring joy of ukulele to as wide an audience as possible. BUMS holds its annual general meetings after the end of the financial year (30 June). Look out for email, Facebook or website notices of the annual general meeting, if you want to become involved.