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Farewell, Sweet Summer of Uke

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It’s a melancholy week. My epic Summer of Uke has come to an end. On Wednesday, my kids will start school and I will return to work. It’s been an amazing summer, highlighted with camping trips, performance debuts, countless friends—both old and new—and concerts, music festivals, ukulele meet ups. It was bookended by amazing music events, starting with the Ukulele World Congress in June, and finishing off with an amazing performance by Michael Hurtt and His Haunted Hearts last Thursday. For the most part, as most of you know, most of this happy road has been paved with ukuleles, laid end to end.

Now, it’s time to pack up the fun and get back to real life. It’s a sad business, giving up the indulgences of sleeping in and lazy pajama-clad mornings over coffee. But the most difficult thing I’ll be giving up are the sometimes endless, impulsive sessions with my ukulele. In the bedroom. In the car. In a tent. At the pool. On the beach. On the couch. In the back yard. On the front porch. I’ve managed to give my ukulele a vigorous workout in every place imaginable. Of course, I have plans to pack one up and take it with me to work every day, but I have a feeling that I won’t be quite so uninhibited as to whip out my uke and belt out a couple verses of “I’m Gonna Give it to Mary With Love,” in a professional setting.

It’s a poignant thing—like letting go of a summer romance. To illustrate the swelling sorrow, I turned to the comfort of YouTube and came across this wonderfully sad, sweet song by Burning Hell. It’s appropriately titled GOODBYE UKULELE.

I’ve been wondering about the many ways a person might deal with the ending of an epic period in their life. Some people probably scrapbook or journal, while others take up a lengthy correspondence with their lost love. Often, no matter how strong the effort, the romance fades. While I know that won’t be the case for me and my ukulele, I still feel the giddy joy of of a seemingly endless summer screeching to a halt—and I know that some things between us are bound to change.

If this musical romance is going to continue, we are going to have to find a little variety; just a little something here and there to keep things interesting. If this ukulele is going to to continue to satisfy me, a little experimentation will be required. Maybe it’s time to get a little wild and try some new positions. Things could get a little funky.

As time goes on, I’ve become aware that I need to leave those first position chords in the dust and take things to the next level: I’ve been working on reading music and memorizing the notes up the fret board in the weekly Blue Stone Folk School Beginning and Intermediate Ukulele Workshop. If that’s not enough, I’ve also been challenged to learn second and third position chords with the ukulele group that meets at Sam Ash. This means more practice, more long sessions on the couch, just me and my ukulele. We are going to do it till we get it right. And, when I’ve found that perfect note, hit just the right spot, maybe, just maybe I’ll be able to produce something that will bring all the joys of summer back on the dullest winter night. Maybe something like Ukulele Hunt’s Woodshed is doing with Indiana Composer Cole Porter’s EVERY TIME WE SAY GOODBYE.

So, as the trees start to fade and the days grow shorter, you are still likely to find me somewhere, with my trusty ukulele. I’m going let my fingers move gingerly up the fret board. I promise to be gentle as we ease into the frosty days ahead. And, we’ll always have the Ukulele World Congress.

Here's my friend Todd Baio speaking the truth with his trusty old Flea.


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