The Electric City Ukulele Club

Electric City Ukulele Club.jpg

Electric City ukers

By Jessica Pasko

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 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?

Find It

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


For those of you who haven't checked out the Moon & River cafe, I recommend that you do. The place is a gem. Last time I was there, you could purchase animal crackers "by the handful". It doesn't get any more awesome than that! It's run by the same man who headed up the old Mother Earth's cafe (that's now home to Pepper Jacks on Western & Quail).

I Uke exclusively for the groupies. There's just no money to be made in it anymore.

This piece is either freakishly timed or there truly is a craze sweeping the nation. Ukes have been mentioned to me on two other occasions this week. Prior to this week the subject has never come up. Ever.

The uke is huge on You Tube! My personal favorites are Gus and Fin, a couple of English blokes who do the classic punk, new wave, and surf guitar songbook as if they were mining my own record collection

On the more serious side I'm absolutely smitten with Montrealler Krista LL Muir and wishing she could make that trek down the Northway and play for us deprived souls

John is my favorite UKE player and quite a dancer.

Is this event still going on? I am just starting to earn to play and would love to meet others who already do. Does anyone know of any teachers in the area? I'm going to try to learn on my own, but would love a handful of lessons.

just arrived from NZ and would love to meet some other uke learners as well as get some lessons. Playing on your own is only half as much fun.

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