Ukulele festival brings taste of tropics to Silver CreekThe ukulele, a Portuguese instrument adapted by Hawaiians and popular in the continental states for its tropical sound, has become the backbone of a local group: Two Harbors Ukulele Group, fondly known as THUG.
By: LaReesa Sandretsky, Lake County News Chronicle
The ukulele, a Portuguese instrument adapted by Hawaiians and popular in the continental states for its tropical sound, has become the backbone of a local group: Two Harbors Ukulele Group, fondly known as THUG.
It all started with Al Anderson, former director of the Two Harbors City Band and president of the non-profit organization, Friends of the Band Shell Park.
"I ended up with a ukulele and I knew several people that played also so I thought it would be fun to get together once in a while and one thing lead to another," Anderson said. “Plus, the acronym THUG was too good to pass up.” . THUGs first public performance was in 2010 and the group has only grown from there.
Anderson was also a music teacher for a few years and can play a number of instruments.
“Al has been a wonderful instructor,” said Dale Moe, a member of THUG.
THUG currently has about 16 members. They’ve performed at the Two Harbors Block Party, church services, Friday in the Park and private parties, among other events. The group has participants of all ages and ability.
“[The ukulele] is a great instrument for a beginner,” Moe said.
Their largest undertaking takes place this weekend: the Second Annual Silver Creek Ukulele Festival.
Most of the events during the three-day festival are at the Silver Creek Town Hall, three miles up Highway 3.
“This thing is free. We’ve raised money throughout the year to pay for it,” Moe said.
The festival features concerts, jam sessions and workshops—all open to the public.
The first event will be Friday night at the town hall beginning at 7 p.m. THUG will start the evening off with a few songs and then launch into a jam session followed by open mic for anyone who wants to play. Moe encourages musicians of all types and abilities to join in; those without musical prowess can show off on the dance floor.
“Our credo is ‘it’s fun to strum’ and you’ll see that. We might be a little unprofessional because we all talk [during performances]…but when people can tell we’re having a good time they have a good time, too,” Moe said.
Saturday is the big day at the town hall, with workshops, instruction, ukulele tuning and tune-ups, instruments to try out and food available for purchase from a local Boy Scout Troop. Ukester Brown from the Twin Cities area will lead a workshop at 1:15 p.m. and Gordon Thorne of Finland will direct another at 2:30 p.m. The day’s events at the hall will end with a concert at 4 p.m. featuring THUG, Brown and Thorne. They’ve recruited some other talents to join in the concert-- a tap dancer, trombonist, trumpeter, keyboardist and a nose flute player.
“You’ve got to be there for the nose flute,” Moe said. “It’s exactly what it sounds like.”
Then, the group will head to Dixie Bar & Grill for another open mic and dinner. Finally, at 9 p.m. the crowd will move to a private residence for a bonfire and jam session—any instruments welcome. Directions to the jam session will be handed out at the town hall earlier in the day.
The musicians will meet again bright and early Sunday morning for breakfast. They’ll dine at the Rustic Inn Café on Highway 61 at 7:30 a.m. and then head to the Gooseberry Falls State Park Lady Slipper Lodge to accompany a church service put on by the Beaver Bay Assemblies of God Church.
The group is expecting participants from all over the state, Anderson said. He’s met a number of fellow ukulele enthusiasts while traveling and performing and said it’s the most exciting part of the festival-- seeing his ukulele friends again.
“Everybody who plays the ukulele is a nice person,” Anderson said.
The festival comes on the tail end of a music-filled month. Fridays in the Park, the Two Harbors Block Party, Tori Festival, BradFest and various local concerts have packed the weekends with unique musical offerings, a testament to a welcoming and thriving music scene in Lake County, according to Moe.
“We have a fantastic music scene. There are a lot of [musicians and events] around here and they’re very good,” Moe said.