Uke-tide caroling in Gray

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The Gray Public Library and Sebago Lake Ukulele Society are set to host their third annual holiday ukulele concert and sing-along on Thursday, Dec. 14. The ukulele group is led by Dana "Captain Ukulele" Reed, left, and library circulation director Darcel DeVou, right, is also a member of the group. Library director Josh Tiffany, center, does not play the ukulele but has been pleasantly surprised by the event's success. 

GRAY — For the third year in a row, the Gray Public Library will host a big holiday event with little instruments.

Members of the Sebago Lake Ukulele Society will perform at the library on Thursday, Dec. 14, in the third annual Holiday Ukulele Concert and Sing-along. The event, which organizers expect to include about 45 minutes of music, starts at 6:30 p.m.

The set list will be seasonal music, and refreshments will also be offered. Lyrics are often printed out for the audience to sing along, organizers said.

The group is led by Dana Reed of Windham, who goes by the nickname (or “ukulel-alias,” as he says) of “Captain Ukulele.” Reed teaches a ukulele class for beginners for Windham Adult Education and the society grew out of that. He jokingly described himself as the group’s “benevolent dictator” when asked about his official title and said most of the members are former students from the class.

“I just thought it made sense. You offer a course, but then this is my ongoing commitment to you, because I believe so strongly in people playing music and people getting together and singing,” Reed said. “And it wasn’t an original idea, in the sense that these groups are springing up everywhere.”

One of the other groups in the area is the Flukes, a group based out of the Falmouth Memorial Library.

The Sebago Lake group – now with about 30 members primarily from Windham, Gray and Standish – meets on the first Thursday of every month at rotating locations, including Rustler’s Steak House and Buck’s Naked BBQ in Windham.

“It really is a Lakes Region kind of [group],” Reed said. “And I think that’s our identity out here.”

One of the members is Gray Public Library Circulation Manager Darcel DeVou, who took Reed’s ukulele course and then became involved in the group.

“I always just wanted to learn an instrument,” she said, noting that the size and cost of a ukulele made it seem more approachable that others such as guitar and piano. “And I thought. It’s easy, it’s small. If I don’t like it, if I don’t continue, I I’ve not invested a lot of money in it.”

Reed said “good quality” ukulele’s are available for between $70 and $100.

“Once you get it, it’s like ‘wow, I got it,'” DeVou added about learning to play.

The holiday concert was her idea, developed in part because the library’s  programming tends to be quiet during the holidays, she said.

Library Director Josh Tiffany said he is “very open to trying new things” with the library’s programming, especially when it’s a suggestion from staff.

“It seemed like a decent idea to get something on the board, give it a try, if nothing else, a great practice for people playing in public,” Tiffany said. “And I thought it was a cute little program that would bring some joy to some people, and I never expected people to just absolutely fall in love with it.”

Tiffany said the event also fits into the library’s efforts to highlight local artistic endeavors, including an amateur art gallery.

Last year’s event, held downstairs at the library, ended up being an overflow crowd of at least 70 people, organizers said, and they weren’t able to fit everyone in the room. They’re exploring the possibility of holding the event upstairs in the library’s main room to increase the space.

“We need a bigger boat,” DeVou joked.

Reed said he sees something unique in the ukulele that draws people to start and keep playing it.

“There’s something about how the chords and the size of the instrument lends itself to some sort of ease over every other instrument. It just doesn’t make sense,” Reed said, adding that there’s “no ego” with the instrument.

Tiffany said he was surprised by how “huge” the holiday event has become. He expects and welcomes another sizable crowd this year.

“The ukulele certainly adds to the fun of the event,” Tiffany said. “If we were to say we’re going to have a chamber orchestra come in and preform Christmas music, that’s perceived to be an uptight, more formal event.”

“People just have a blast,” he said.

The holiday ukulele concert is free, though attendees are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items to be donated to the local food pantry.

Matt Junker can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or mjunker@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @MattJunker.

The Gray Public Library and Sebago Lake Ukulele Society are set to host their third annual holiday ukulele concert and sing-along on Thursday, Dec. 14. The ukulele group is led by Dana “Captain Ukulele” Reed, left, and library circulation director Darcel DeVou, right, is also a member of the group. Library director Josh Tiffany, center, does not play the ukulele but has been pleasantly surprised by the event’s success.

Dana “Captain Ukulele” Reed and Darcel DeVou of the Gray Public Library get ready for next week’s holiday ukulele concert and sing-a-long.

GRAY — For the third year in a row, the Gray Public Library will host a big holiday event with little instruments.

Members of the Sebago Lake Ukulele Society will perform at the library on Thursday, Dec. 14, in the third annual Holiday Ukulele Concert and Sing-along. The event, which organizers expect to include about 45 minutes of music, starts at 6:30 p.m.

The set list will be seasonal music, and refreshments will also be offered. Lyrics are often printed out for the audience to sing along, organizers said.

The group is led by Dana Reed of Windham, who goes by the nickname (or “ukulel-alias,” as he says) of “Captain Ukulele.” Reed teaches a ukulele class for beginners for Windham Raymond Adult Education and the society grew out of that. He jokingly described himself as the group’s “benevolent dictator” when asked about his official title and said most of the members are former students from the class.

“I just thought it made sense. You offer a course, but then this is my ongoing commitment to you, because I believe so strongly in people playing music and people getting together and singing,” Reed said. “And it wasn’t an original idea, in the sense that these groups are springing up everywhere.”

One of the other groups in the area is the Flukes, a group based out of the Falmouth Memorial Library.

The Sebago Lake group – now with about 30 members primarily from Windham, Gray and Standish – meets on the first Thursday of every month at rotating locations, including Rustler’s Steak House and Buck’s Naked BBQ in Windham.

“It really is a Lakes Region kind of [group],” Reed said. “And I think that’s our identity out here.”

One of the members is Gray Public Library Circulation Manager Darcel DeVou, who took Reed’s ukulele course and then became involved in the group.

“I always just wanted to learn an instrument,” she said, noting that the size and cost of a ukulele made it seem more approachable that others such as guitar and piano. “And I thought. It’s easy, it’s small. If I don’t like it, if I don’t continue, I I’ve not invested a lot of money in it.”

Reed said “good quality” ukulele’s are available for between $70 and $100.

“Once you get it, it’s like ‘wow, I got it,'” DeVou added about learning to play.

The holiday concert was her idea, developed in part because the library’s  programming tends to be quiet during the holidays, she said.

Library Director Josh Tiffany said he is “very open to trying new things” with the library’s programming, especially when it’s a suggestion from staff.

“It seemed like a decent idea to get something on the board, give it a try, if nothing else, a great practice for people playing in public,” Tiffany said. “And I thought it was a cute little program that would bring some joy to some people, and I never expected people to just absolutely fall in love with it.”

Tiffany said the event also fits into the library’s efforts to highlight local artistic endeavors, including an amateur art gallery.

Last year’s event, held downstairs at the library, ended up being an overflow crowd of at least 70 people, organizers said, and they weren’t able to fit everyone in the room. They’re exploring the possibility of holding the event upstairs in the library’s main room to increase the space.

“We need a bigger boat,” DeVou joked.

Reed said he sees something unique in the ukulele that draws people to start and keep playing it.

“There’s something about how the chords and the size of the instrument lends itself to some sort of ease over every other instrument. It just doesn’t make sense,” Reed said, adding that there’s “no ego” with the instrument.

Tiffany said he was surprised by how “huge” the holiday event has become. He expects and welcomes another sizable crowd this year.

“The ukulele certainly adds to the fun of the event,” Tiffany said. “If we were to say we’re going to have a chamber orchestra come in and preform Christmas music, that’s perceived to be an uptight, more formal event.”

“People just have a blast,” he said.

The holiday ukulele concert is free, though attendees are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items to be donated to the local food pantry.

Matt Junker can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or mjunker@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @MattJunker.

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