On Friday night we caught up with one of my favourite front room alumni, the ridiculously talented Nate Swettenham, also known as The Skunk-Boy Project. Nate was in London to take part in The Idler Academy’s Ukelele Player of the Year competition.
Anything hosted by The Idler founders, Tom Hodgkinson and Gavin Pretor-Pinney, was always going to be a quirky and gently shambolic affair. These are, after all, the men who eschew the work ethic and promote idleness as a noble pastime. Tom and Gavin are great exponents of the ukelele, and this event was ostensibly to promote their new book, The Ukelele Handbook.
What the evening lacked in organisational detail was more than made up for in charm and conviviality. Oh, and the most amazing Hendricks G&T, served in tea cups.
Just five ukelele players took to the stage, one of them virtually. First up was Val via video singing about Valium (her anxiety too great to appear in person, it would seem), followed by a talented 13 year old from Brighton, a comedienne with a love song about Gordon the Traffic Warden, and then the inimitable Ukelele Eric. Eric gave us the most extraordinary cover of Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance complete with hip wiggles – a definite improvement on the original.
Last up was Nate, singing Love is Many Things – one of my favourites of his. Still only 21 and in his final year at university, Nate’s songwriting skill already shows incredible maturity and there can only be good things ahead for him in his music career. His songs are charming, witty and intelligent, but most of all, they leave you feeling a bit warm and fuzzy (or was that the G&T?). The other competitors were great, but it was lovely to see Nate walk away with the prize at the end of the night.
You can find Skunk-Boy project on Facebook www.facebook.com/skunkboyproject
Or listen on Reverbnation www.reverbnation.com/skunkboyproject