Category Archives: Blog

Sunday Fun with Ukes in Hand

Photo Credit: Judy Williams

What did 30-some people do on a warm sunny afternoon last Sunday? Well, they stayed indoors, were air-conditioned, and played their hearts out on their ukuleles, of course!

Gary and Ron

We are tremendously grateful for the enthusiastic turnout at our first circle meeting. The room was packed with Cuties of all ages! Our thanks go first and foremost to Gary and Ron for their musicianship and leadership! They even brought along hardware to round out the performance, too! We also thank Braden, Gladie and Jacqueline for volunteering, and the Pinetree staff, Mike and Sue for having the room ready for us.

Derek - first Cutie performer

As for Cutie talents, Derek will always be known as the very first Cutie to ever strum and sing at our performance time! He was the brave one and picked out a song with under 15 minutes notice! Good job with “Down on the Corner”!


Up next was Brenda, an avid songwriter and activist, who shared her song, “Old Home Place,” with much gusto.

Brian and Mike

We were then graced with the song, “On the Road Again” by our friends, Brian and Mike, who drove a long way to attend and wow the crowd. Mike played his harmonica and uke in addition to singing! What a treat for us.


Finally, Ron played a special edition of “One Toke Over the Line” just for the Cuties. Hmm, but what did he mean by “What happened in Port Townsend stays in Port Townsend”? I guess we’ll never know.

Cuties Group Sept 14

Last but not least, we thank all the Cuties for playing music together and for having fun.


For the next meeting, we are also happy to announce that we will have some music stands on site for use during the circle.

See you next month!

Cuties in the News

The Cuties have been active on the web lately and what better way to summarize these wonderful events than to put them all on the same post!

News Clipping - The Vancouver SunNews Clipping - Snapd CoquitlamNews clipping from the Tri-Cities Now

Being in the news is one thing but showing up on YouTube is quite another matter. Some Cuties followed Ron Usher’s lead and performed “Summer Wine” at the Vancouver Ukulele Circle on July 15. Here is the standing-O performance in YouTube-style.

The Origin Story of an Everyday Ukulele Hero

My dog has fleas

<from the blog of Carmen Mills:>

I was haggling over a bit of purple bridesmaid dress with a cross-dressing Reno housewife at a free boutique in Black Rock City, Nevada. Maria Mango strolled up. She was strumming a ukulele and she crooned, “love is sumthin’ if you give it away, you keep on gettin’ more. ” When that moment returned to my mind, what was most utterly vivid was the ukulele.

As soon as I got home to Vancouver I rinsed the dust off my body and went to Long & Mcquade to meet Ralph Shaw, who would be my ukelele guru. His blue Cannondale recumbent was parked outside the store. As soon as i entered the store i heard enthusiastic strumming emanating from the guitar section. I followed the sound to find a tall thin guy wearing suspenders and a bowtie. Ralph nodded his approval and held the ukulele out to me: this one. A Mahalo, born in China but conceived in Hawaii. Its body is mahogany, finish slightly rough to the touch. The neck is rosewood. I paid $75 and walked out of the store holding the uke in its cardboard box.

I couldn’t quite believe I had just bought myself a musical instrument. I would have felt more comfortable with a machine gun in a violin case. The words ‘musical instrument’ scare me, you see, because I am a Mills. Millses are drawn to the visual arts. Millses draw well. Millses are verbal and tend toward the literary. But when everyone stands up to sing oh canada at the baseball game the Millses do not. Millses stand up in respect but they only mouth the words or hum really low, because you see, Millses are not musical. Millses DON’T SING. So there is something furtive and transgressive about the whole act of buying a musical instrument, feeling almost ashamed, like I’ve violated my caste. What are you DOING?! You’re not a MUSICIAN! You are a MILLS!!

But I am learning some things about music. Obvious mysteries. Like, when you walk with your feet you set a beat, and you can play to the beat. And, that 4/4 time exists the same in a djembe as it does in a techno track (which i kind of knew), but it also lives in a ukelele! A strum is a beat!

Hot damn.

So I’ve been practicing walking around on the street with the uke, just to see how that feels. I notice guys carrying guitars look at me, and we meet eyes and smile a little. There’s that insider secret recognition like I always used to get with dreadies when I had dreadlocks. And I wonder then, should I even have smiled back? Because, was that really honest, implying that i might be, like, a musician or something? I’m  a Mills, not a musician. I’m just carrying a ukulele. It is a disguise.

But get this: I’m learning some SONGS. Really–songs! I have never played a song on a musical instrument before. And what songs! Songs about cowboys, and amphibians! Hello my baby, hello my honey, hello my ragtime gaaaaaaal…. Frogs, and ukeleles, and singing Millses. Strange but true.