This article is part of our On The Record series focusing on amazing musicians that have set a Guinness World Record. We discuss their record attempt, musical careers and current events.
Do you remember that practice session that seemed to drag on all night? There’s a good chance it was maybe 5 or 6 hours with a few breaks built-in. Maybe dinner. Robin Evans, a ukulele player in the UK, has definitely one-upped you by performing for 30 hours and 2 minutes straight. He holds the Guinness World Record for Longest Marathon Playing Ukulele, officially set on November 27, 2016 at the Duke of Uke in London.
That sort of commitment doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a lot of passion for music sprinkled with a little bit of dedication, and that started long ago for Evans. “I’ve been fascinated by playing music for as long as I can remember,” he says. “The process of creating sound is something I’ve always wanted to do. For a while, I had guitar lessons as a child but managed to forget everything, and went through a stage of trying to play the keyboard, but it wasn’t till I picked up the ukulele as a teenager I became serious about playing.”
Like most musicians, Evans wanted to do something to give himself an edge. But he didn’t want just anything, he needed a high-bar to hurdle. That’s why this Guinness World Record seemed like a good fit, he explains. “I’m ambitious, I fancied a challenge, and I thought it would be fun!”
Preparation was obviously necessary, as well as musical talent. You can’t just half-heartedly attempt a Guinness World Record and set it. He was allowed a five-minute break each hour and each song had to be a minimum of two minutes long with a very small gap in between each one. Surprisingly though, playing for over 30 hours wasn’t even the hardest part, according to Evans. “The logistics and paperwork were honestly the hardest bit, but Mary Agnes Krell and Rob Collins from GNUF [Grand Northern Ukulele Festival] helped tremendously on that front, which allowed me to focus on the playing itself. Musically, the fifth repeat of Christmas songs was dire.”
Evolving as a musician is part of the game, a fact that Evans understands completely. “I’m not sure how it’s affected me really – it’s another thing on the musical CV I suppose,” he says. “But I changed my image, style, and location about a year after doing the record. Now, it’s just not as relevant to what I do.” This record-setting ukulele marathon might be his grand finale. “I can’t really see the point in doing any other world records,” says Evans. ”I’m more interested in songwriting and performing right now.”
It’s obvious that Robin Evans loves music. He released his latest EP, Demon Swing, in July 2019 featuring his down and dirty blues style as Robin Evans Esq. During this Coronavirus pandemic, music has soothed his soul as he does ours. Evans explains, “Music has kept me sane, kept me busy, and kept me imaginative.”
For emerging artists, Evans offers a reminder of what can often be forgotten. “Just keep at it. Find what you like, play what you like, and double down on it. Success is down to luck, so give yourself the opportunities to be lucky.”
Robin Evans Esq. is a down and dirty blues musician based in Norwich, U.K. Hear more of his music on Spotify.
Robin Evans Esq.
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I'm the co-owner of The Music Box and a lifelong musician as a euphonium player. The son of a band director, alumnus of the University of Alabama and father of 3, I keep busy on my Peloton and managing multiple businesses.