So it turns out the ukulele craze has made it to Schenectady.
What? You didn't know there was a ukulele craze?
Well, we're not sure craze is the right word, but apparently the uke has seen a resurgence in popularity. In the past several years it's moved well beyond the hula and folk to rock and even punk (yes, there's actually a punk group called Uke til You Puke.)
Search ukulele on YouTube.com and you'll find a ton of renditions of pop and rock songs done uke-style. There's even a documentary called Rock that Uke along with festivals and groups around the country dedicated to the pint-sized string instrument.
If you're a ukulele lady (or man) or you're just curious, you can jam with other uke lovers or listen in at The Electric City Ukulele Club.
Once a month, local uke aficionados gather at Schenectady's Moon and River Cafe to talk chords, compare instruments and most of all, jam.
Attendees vary, but typically there's a group of core regulars like Jay Freud of Clifton Park, a self-described uke enthusiast who keeps a photograph of Marilyn Monroe in his instrument's case for good luck. Musician Ron Gordon started the group about three years ago. He wears a Ukulele Lady T-shirt and black Converse high tops and has been playing the uke for over 35 years. Almost every year, he attends the New York Ukulele Festival, which is being held this May.
Attendees at the Electric City Ukulele Club are encouraged to bring sheet music to share with the group, resulting in a wide array of genres. Song selections range from the kitschy --- "You get a line, I'll get a pole" -- to classic rock, like Van Morrison's "Brown-eyed Girl." This month, one member even led the group in a uke rendering of Radiohead's "Creep." Don Ho this is not.
The gatherings are informal and new people are always invited to attend. And just because you don't own a ukulele or know how to play one, don't think you can't try it out. Ron says he always brings an extra instrument or two and the friendly group is more than willing to help you learn. Did I mention it's free?
The Electric City Ukulele Club at Moon and River Cafe
115 S. Ferry St.
Schenectady, NY 12305
The second Monday each month
7 p.m. - 9 p.m
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