As she tuned her ukulele, first time ukulele jammer Smai Fullerton said, “I’ve never seen so many ukuleles in one place.” Colombo’s was packed with more than 25 instruments Monday night for the Bozeman Ukulele Cabaret’s Ukulele Pizza Jam.
The host, Mark Grenier, passed out sheet music for “Kansas City” before he went over a few chords and finger positions. Before the group started playing, he invited everyone to come up to the microphone, “Anybody who wants to play a song, just raise your hand or walk up and start playing.”
When performers introduced a new song they wrote the chords and finger positions on a whiteboard for everyone to see. Often, they would shout out the chords as they were playing and singing. Fullerton said, “It’s really easy to keep up.”
The room was packed with listeners, family members and players. Many of the participants, like Fullerton, were beginners. She said, “I played the ukulele a lot, but then I stopped for a couple years. I just wanted to start again and found this group.”
After the first song, Fullerton laughed and said, “It’s kind of bizarre.” By the end of the night she was singing and strumming as enthusiastically as the long-time players.
Bill Ziegler was also playing the ukulele for the first time Monday night. When asked how long he had been playing he said, “Ten minutes.”
Daryl Ziegler Henning is also a beginner, but said she attended the Valentine’s Jam at Wild Joe’s Coffeespot with her friend Debbie Waggener, who has been playing for three years.
As the interview went on and they had their pictures taken all three of them said, “You should get a ukulele,” and they invited people to the next ukulele jam at Colombo’s on April 13.
Bozeman Ukulele Cabaret regularly hosts open ukulele lessons. The next one will be on April 6 at 1 p.m. at the Bozeman Public Library, one week before the next jam session. All the events require participants to bring their own uke, but anyone is welcome to join in and sing, no matter how much experience they have had.
According to their blog, Bozeman Ukulele Cabaret has been organizing events in the Bozeman area since February 2012.
More information on Bozeman Ukulele Cabaret and a calendar of their events can be found on their blog at bozemanukes.wordpress.com. They also have a Facebook page, Bozeman Ukulele Cabaret.