Here is the letter I sent to Stuart McLean of CBC’s Vinyl Cafe:
Greetings from Halifax, Nova Scotia!
My name is Jonathan and I am, for lack of a better description, second in command of the Halifax Ukulele Gang, or HUG as we like to call ourselves. (Our fearless leader, Mike, prefers to call us the Halifax Uke Gang as he feels that sounds tougher. He likes to stress the “gang” end of it.)
HUG is a ukulele strumming group that has been meeting monthly since early 2008. We started with a handful of people and have since grown to a regular turnout of 30-50 ukuleles per month, packed into a tiny room in a pleasant little pub on the Dartmouth side of the Halifax Harbour.
Some of our members are amazing musicians. Many, like myself, are learning (and enjoying the company and atmosphere along the way). Every month brings someone new with their first ever ukulele or the battered old attic uke they or their parents used as part of Chalmers Doane’s famed ukulele program of the 1970s and 80s. Whatever the skill level, we always try to send the person away at the end of the night with a couple of songsheets, a bit of a song they can hammer away at, and an invitation to next month’s gathering. It is always a joy to see them arrive the next month, uke in hand, and ready to strum away another night.
Our members range in age from those in the latter part of their teen years to well into retirement age. The music we play is a mix of anything and everything – traditional folk and camp songs, songs from the 20s, 30s and 40s, old rock and roll, country, show tunes, new pop, rock and alternative. We’ll try anything at least once. And the best part is that everyone is singing along!
If you were to visit our monthly gathering, you would see a happy throng strumming away in a tiny room to some of our club favourites like ABBA’s “Mama Mia”, AC/DC’s “Shook Me All Night Long”, Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” and the Bonzo Dog Band’s “Urban Spaceman”. Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” is absolutely mind-blowing when played by 40 ukuleles. Our night always ends in true Canadian-Rock-Anthem style with Andy Kim’s “Rock Me Gently”.
And now to the reason for my letter: ON BEHALF OF THE HALIFAX UKULELE GANG, I WOULD LIKE TO INVITE YOU TO A HUG GATHERING. Please join us for a relaxed opportunity to strum, learn and laugh!
I know you have made a commitment to learning the ukulele and you have been singing its praises for years on the Vinyl Cafe. Come out and join us when you are in Halifax later on this month. Bring your ukulele (or if you – heavens forbid – don’t have one, we can lend you one – we have lots) and come out for a relaxing strum. Normally we meet on the first Monday of the month, but I know that many of our members would love to throw together an extra gathering just for you.
All you need to do is tell me when you might like to get together and I will contact the rest of our group and arrange for the location. If you come, we will build it!