Last night, I heard a woman say, "We can do Christmas music on the ukulele without singing 'Mele Kalikimaka' you know."
But we did sing that song, among many others. Last night was the monthly ukulele meet-up at 2&, an interesting spot that's both a bar and a performance space and a bike repair shop (bike racks inside!). It's in the trendy part of Ft. Lauderdale, on Las Olas, and the summer days of easy parking are over--but because we had to hunt more, we found free parking on a back street.
It was a drizzly night--not the wintry drizzle that you would expect in December, but the kind when humid air finally starts to weep a bit. Still, it was great to see the lights, to arrive at the bar, and to spend a few hours working our way through Christmas music.
One member of the group brings a projector, and the rest of us pluck along to the chords beamed on the wall. One woman said, "We should turn off the projector and see how many people can sing the second verse."
We didn't, but if we had, I'd have won that prize. The sacred songs I've sung my whole life, and they were probably the first songs I memorized. I have spent every December of my life with Christmas albums, tapes, and CDs on endless loops, so I know the secular music too.
As we played, I watched the people wander by. I wondered if they recognized the music. Did they say, "Hey, where's that ukulele music coming from?" Or do they even know what kind of instrument we're playing?
Last night, as we sang "Silent Night" at the top of our lungs (incongruous, I know), a pair of young guys came in. One had long dreadlocks. One had a shirt that declared "Drink Wisconsibly." They had that baffled look, as if to say, "Who has invaded my bar?" I wanted to know if they knew the hymn. That baffled look could have also been, "I almost know this song. It's so familiar. What is it?"
Or maybe very few people know these songs anymore. But we did--and they're easy songs, so people could sing along.
All in all, it was a fun night--not the meditative Advent night I'd have had at home, but a good practice for our Christmas Eve ukulele service.
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