mon 17/06/2024

Diary of a Strumpette, Part One: Three ukes on the road to Glasto | reviews, news & interviews

Diary of a Strumpette, Part One: Three ukes on the road to Glasto

Diary of a Strumpette, Part One: Three ukes on the road to Glasto

Miss Kitty Kowalski presents the inside track as her band heads to Glastonbury

Introducing The Strumpettes: Miss Kitty Kowalski, Miss Velma Valentine and Miss Bettina WintersPhoto: Ray Kyte

theartsdesk has an insider at Glastonbury this year - one of our writers is performing in the festival. Here we present the diary of Miss Kitty Kowalski, ukulele diva, and her cohorts in The Strumpettes.

"Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce The Strumpettes - three gals, three ukes, all the best tunes from the Twenties, Thirties, Forties and Fifties sung in perfect three-part harmony. Imagine The Andrews Sisters crossed with Rita Hayworth and a little George Formby, and you’re gettin' pretty close.

"We've been kickin' around the London cabaret scene for about a year now, after driftin' over from the States with nothin' but the clothes we were standin' in and a battered old ukulele - just three sweet-singin’, wise-crackin’, low-down vagabonds lookin' to hit the big time. And it turns out you Brits know a good thing when you see it. A few months back, the call came through. Some festival out in the sticks… Glastonbury or somethin'… has asked us to swing by and strum our stuff on the Croissant Neuf stage, which we’re told is kind of a big deal. And now, all of a sudden, it ain’t so far off. On 27 June The Strumpettes will be entertainin' the troops in the Greenfields, and I’m gonna keep this little ol' diary going each week and tell you all about it - the highs, the lows, the backstage buzz, the onstage fear.

"But first I guess I’d better introduce the band. First up is our head girl - the brains behind The Strumpettes - Miss Velma Valentine. This tough little cookie had a rough start in life. The 16th child of Irish immigrants, she grew up in the back streets of Brooklyn and soon learned to trade that pretty face and sugar-coated voice of hers for a dime or two in the subway. Some say she picked a few pockets on the side, but they never pinned nothin’ on Miss Valentine - though Lord knows they tried…

"Next in line is Miss Bettina Winters. This broad needs no introduction - we’ve all heard the stories. The infamous love child of a German film star and a certain ex-President, she quickly made a name for herself as a high-class society girl, famed for that incorrigible opium habit and her string of famous lovers – Charlie Chaplin, Howard Hughes, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald... Believe me, this hoochie coocher has seen and done it all. Just buy her a couple of gins and she’ll tell you all the dirty details.

"So that just leaves me, Miss Kitty Kowalski. I ain’t had it so easy either. Once upon time I was quite the little rich girl – heiress to one of Poland's wealthiest lines, would you believe. After the uprising, though, I had to get the hell outta there. A girl’s gotta look after herself, ya' know, so I got myself smuggled outta the country in a vodka barrel and shipped all the way to America, where I paid my way singin' in jazz bars and fleecin' all the hepcats at poker. The girls found me in a gambling den in New Orleans when I was pretty down on my luck. The rest, as they say, is history.

"And that’s just about all you need to know, for now. You’ll find us trying to keep our victory rolls neat, our noses powdered and our seams straight in the Greenfields soon enough, but in the meantime we'll be teasing the crowd with a little warm-up show at this swell speakeasy joint in the City tonight. So why don't you come up and see us sometime...?

  • Miss Kitty Kowalski is the stage name of a writer on theartsdesk - read Parts Two and Three of her Strumpettes diary


Great name, great look, wonderful idea: I bet you're good! Where else can the poor suckers who don't do Facebook or MySpace find out where to hear you after tomorrow's gig?

You were my favorite act at Glastonbury! Brilliant, soothed the hangover a treat. Met a guy who interviewed you last week? Any idea where I would find it?

Well hello there, Velma Valentine here, Kitty's abovementioned co-Strumpette. I'm real pleased we fixed that hangover for you Bonnie. I think the interview in question was with a nice young feller from Radio Netherlands. You can have a listen to it by going to our website and clicking on the 'Press' menu on the left. David, you can have a listen to some of our songs by visiting our website as well, and we also keep it updated with all our upcoming shows in case you feel like coming along and seeing us in the flesh (not literally, I must add - I'm afraid none of us are that kind of a gal...) V.V. x

PS - I got in touch with my friend who runs 'bad sneakers management/ record Company. He is going to check you out. I also have some pretty pictures of you on my facebook but cant paste them on 'the strumpettes' facebook page. Request me if you would like to add them to your profile. Bonnie Shabalala (you need to find that) Thanks for the reply. xx

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