My mother brought a ukulele on a family trip to Atlanta. The 7 hour drive was pretty stressful as three unruly bored brothers turned the backseat into a war zone. In addition to our battles this trip we each learned to play 5’2″ on the uke. My first experience with a stringed instrument. Of course we performed for Grandma, Aunts, Uncles, and cousins. That was over 50 years ago.
Since then I’ve played guitar, upright bass, and uke in assorted bands and groups mostly in Mississippi and Maine. (more…)
Mike Burd is a professional musician who tours nationally playing bass with Maine’s own Dave Mallett. His (not so) secret passion, however, is playing ukulele and he is indeed the facilitator for the uke group The Merry Plinksters in Farmington. Joel Eckhaus says, “Mike Burd, … is one of those bass player/uke genius types..and is encouraging uke players to bring their ukes to Dave’s shows, to play along on the Garden Song…I think it could be a movement…” Mike answers he wants to “bring folk music back to the folks”. Mike will be joining the Maine Fiddle Camp staff, teaching uke, in 2015.
Maine’s “Ukulele Eck” has been “out there” for four decades or so…singing and playing the ukulele, mandolin, tenor guitar, banjo, and musical saw in string bands, swing bands, vaudeville shows, and weird gigs of all sorts. A founding member of the Arm & Hammer String Band, the Neverly Brothers, the Blue Sky Serenaders, the Pinetones, Al Dente’s Inferno, and the Fabulous Lacklusters, Joel can’t seem to stay away from a stage and a microphone for very long. He studied the uke and tenor banjo with Roy Smeck, Vaudeville’s Wizard of the Strings, and now teaches at uke festivals and workshops around the country. He currently performs with the Uke-abilly duo, dos Eckies, and vaudeville duo, the Vododeeyos, and has recorded one CD “Tarnished Reputation” Ukulele Eck and the Fabulous Lacklusters, on Goodenuff Records. When not performing, he’s most likely to be found covered in sawdust, building the tools of his trade, ukes, mandolins, tenor guitars as proprietor of Earnest Uncommon Musical Instruments (www.earnestinstruments.com). His instruments are played and collected worldwide, and beyond!
Frets has been playing and teaching ukulele and guitar privately and in groups for many years. He was surprised that while he was rediscovering the ukulele, so was the rest of the world! Over the past few years the ukulele has been seen and played at Maine Fiddle Camp. Inspired from seeing the uke at camp, Frets offered a specialty workshop and formed the ukestra and things just took off. Frets has been a catalyst for community uke groups in Maine, including Belfast and Newport. He currently lives in Belfast and plays guitar and uke with the Belfast Bay Fiddlers. Email: [email protected] or 207.992.3535.
Margery Landis has been teaching instrumental music in MSAD #75 since 1986. First she taught at the elementary level, and has been at Mt. Ararat Middle School since 1995. Margie’s bands have performed in the Hall of Flags in Augusta, the Augusta Civic Center, in Providence, RI for the New England League of Middle Schools Conference, MMEA Conferences (1995, 2003, 2007), and along the shores of Merrymeeting Bay. During the 2008-2009 school year she took a leave of absence in order to study music therapy at Arizona State University in Tempe.
Her current teaching responsibilities at Mt. Ararat include 7th & 8th grade concert band, 7th & 8th grade jazz band, and 6th grade general music. In 1992 she founded a multi-generational community band called The Merrymeeting Community Band. The band performs throughout the summer months in the mid-coast area and will proudly celebrate their 25th season in 2016. Margie plays the horn and serves on the applied music faculty at Bates College. She studies ukulele with Joel Eckhaus in South Portland, and attends the Strathmore Ukulele Summit in Bethesda, Maryland and the Aloha Music Camp in Hawaii.
During the fall, she teaches beginning and intermediate ukulele through Merrymeeting Adult Education, and has formed The Ukulele Club of Brunswick, which plays monthly at the Brunswick Inn. She holds the Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music History from the University of New Hampshire and a Master of Music Degree in Performance from the University of Idaho.
Kenny first picked up a ukulele at age 8, when a family friend bought him one. Now 50 plus years later, he’s not half bad! He’s got a menagerie of them, from soprano to baritone, and plays a variety of styles, swing music being his favorite. Kenny has been an actor and physical comedian for 35 years, and has performed internationally, as well as on Broadway. He also starred as the lead clown in Cirque du Soleil’s Nouvelle Experience. He and Francis Berks make the acoustic duo The Doppelgangers.