“The ukulele is the coolest musical instrument. All the experts agree. It was used as a hand-to-hand weapon by the Finns in olden days, and Chip Hedry was just the first of many astronauts to play one in space.”
Sparling’s passion for miniature guitars seems to have got the best of him because a quick Google search confirms none of these claims, and there is no record of an astronaut named ‘Chip Hedry’.
The uke enthusiast has been in contact with Duncan’s Pub – “my people have talked to their people” – about hosting a musical gathering once a month.
“Looks like it’s going to be the first Monday of the month, starting February. A couple of hours, beginning at seven.”
The amateur musician says the ukulele meet-up will be very informal.
“It’s for adults who play, want to play, want to talk about the four-stringed Hawaiian instrument, or just want to have food and drink on a Monday,” Sparling says.
There’s no cost to the event and no commitment. The pub will still be open for regular business. Beginners are welcome, according to the player. He says he’s a beginner himself.
“There’s an inverse relationship between my enthusiasm and my skill.” Does that mean he’ll get worse the more he likes it? The bald redhead shrugs and says, “It’s possible.”
Darlene Moore, manager at Duncan’s Pub, confirms the monthly meetings are actually happening.
“Eric approached us and we said yes, of course. Sounds fun. Maybe some of them will start performing at our open mics, too.”
Sparling says he’s even come up with a name for the group.
“Machetes Ukulele Crew – or muck for short.”
The organizer feigns offense when told it’s a ridiculous name.
“Ridiculously awesome, you mean” he counters. “The ukulele was developed from a Portugese instrument called the machete. It’s completely appropriate and extremely great.”
A Google search of Wikipedia confirms that, yes, the “ukulele originated in the 19th century as a Hawaiian adaptation of the Portuguese machete, a small guitar-like instrument which was introduced to Hawaii by Portuguese immigrants, many from Madeira and the Azores.”
The Ukulele in Canada
Wikipedia says, “In the 1960’s, educator J. Chalmers Doane dramatically changed school music programs across Canada, using the ukulele as an inexpensive and practical teaching instrument to foster musical literacy in the classroom. 50,000 schoolchildren and adults learned ukulele through the Doane program at its peak.”