Half-way around the world I met a man named Graeme Steel with two ukes. One he’d inherited from his grandfather. The other, a lovely Kono uke, recently purchased. I’m holding a photo of his grandfather playing the ukulele, circa 1910. Graeme holds a photo of his grandmother playing her uke, same vintage.
With your eyes and heart open, travel allows you to step, for a brief moment, into someone’s else’s life. After my last class in Surabaya, Graeme and I hunkered over our ukulele’s practicing chords. I learned that this dapper gent with British and Australian roots has lived on Surabaya for over 20 years and now runs a business called Authentic Java Tours.
I love the uke; the way it sounds, the ease of play. It’s hard to strum this instrument and not feel happy or smile. Does the world need more uke players? Of course, it does. How can you get into trouble when you’re plunking away on a four-stringed mini-guitar?
I play the uke. My daughter, Hayley, plays one. My youngest daughter, Devon, recently received a nice uke from her boyfriend. So if my wife, Heather, starts playing…is it possible….ladies and gentlemen… live from Vermont….It’s the Swinny Ukuleles!
P.S. What do you think about using that fantastic name — Graeme Steel — in my next kid’s spy novel?