Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Ukuleles Rock at High Strung, says Herald Sun

There was a nice article about the uke jam in the Herald Sun recently.

1 comment:

groovejuice said...

In case you don't want to have to register with the Herald Sun, here's the text of the article:

Ukuleles rock at High Strung
By Stacey Hunter : The Herald-Sun
Mar 1, 2009

DURHAM -- They're little and cute and they fit really close to the body.

They are, said Christine Spiak, like popcorn.

"They're also easy easy easy to play," said Spiak, the co-owner of High Strung Violins & Guitars at 1116 Broad St.

She's talking about ukuleles, the small, figure-eight shaped instrument with just four strings, that originated in Hawaii. For the past three years, her shop has hosted a ukulele jam on the first and third Mondays every month from 7 to 9 p.m. The next jam will take place March 2.

"It's a great way for people who are new to the instrument or that play, but are new to the area to meet up with other ukulele players," Spiak said.

The jam is taught by Marilee Annareaux. It is free and open to anyone, even if you don't have your own instrument. High Strung has several available loaners.

"The ukulele is associated with fun," Annareaux said. "It's small. It's pretty accessible. It doesn't take very long to learn the basics. You can pick up one and after fooling around for a couple of hours, you can play a lot of songs."

Currently the group has about five regular attendees and three to 10 others who come occasionally. They play all types of music from "Tin Pan Alley" type of songs to Guns N' Roses, she said.

The jam began after Duke Performances Director of Artist Relations Paul Overton had trouble finding local people with whom to play.

"I wanted to get more people to play within the group setting," he said, "and High Strung Guitars was really supportive."

From an initial group of about four people a few years ago, the jam grew. The Durham Ukulele Orchestra was born from the jam sessions.

"It's fun because the ukulele is so versatile," Overton said. "It's an easy instrument to learn. It's a great way to get out from in front of your television and play with others. You need no experience. You don't even need to have held a ukulele to go to these jams."

Ukuleles are also relatively cheap compared to other instruments, like six-stringed guitars. A decent ukulele can be purchased for about $50, Annareaux said.

"For some people, it's a little bit of an outsider thing," she said. "It's quirky. People feel like they're doing something really different, but there's also a sense of community about it."

Being a community music store is one of High Strung's main goals.

"Jams are a great way for people in the community to get together and share their interest," shop employee Aaron Greenhood said. "Music is a wonderful community activity and experience. It's a way of bridging people of different backgrounds together, and it's a great incubator for musicians."

For more information about the ukulele jams, call (919) 286-3801.