Last night, I took my ukulele and my spouse took his mandolin, and we headed up to the trendy part of Ft. Lauderdale, Las Olas. We went to 2&, an interesting spot that's both a bar and a performance space and a bike repair shop (bike racks inside!). We enjoyed a wide selection of beers at reasonable prices.
We met our friends to enjoy a ukulele meet-up. It reminded me of the folk music sing-alongs we used to attend, except with more ukuleles. I've only been playing since mid-June, and I was pleased with how many chords I could remember.
At one point, I looked at all the bar patrons, most of us between the ages of 45 and 70, singing at the top of our lungs and playing ukuleles at varying levels of proficiency. I looked out the windows and the open door, and I was happy to see that much younger, hipper people walking by looked up, startled, but smiling. Some of them even came in and two sang along to our collection of songs by the Beatles, the Beach Boys, John Denver, Peter, Paul, and Mary, and the Mamas and the Papas.
I thought of how I came to know those songs. Some of them I learned in elementary school, likely from women who had once been hippies, but in the 70's needed something else to bring in money. Some of those songs I learned as they played on the radio. Some of them I learned from years of hanging out with a variety of musicians.
After the ukulele meet-up came an open mic, and as the evening progressed, those folks started showing up--and they played/sang along too. One guy wore what I thought was a Clash t-shirt, but I couldn't make the figure on the shirt be one of those band members. Later I realized he was wearing a Cash shirt--as in Johnny Cash. Alas, we sang no Johnny Cash songs.
There's always next time. As the evening moved into the open mic, I listened to the "band" fronted by the guy in the Cash shirt--they sounded like a mix of Devo and the Bee Gees. I had a sudden urge to find the chords to songs by the Violent Femmes and the B52s to see how they would sound played by a group of ukuleles.
We went home and watched Michael Phelps win his--what, 26th gold medal? His 4th something in a row. As I drifted off to sleep, the first African-American woman won a gold medal for swimming as an individual.
I thought about the contrast between those amazing athletes and the rest of us--and I thought of our ukulele meet-up and the happiness of having yet to master a process. I saw so many varieties of joy last night--a wonderful Thursday night.