By Susan Rose, email@example.com
It started at the fence line. Candler Park mom Dana Fowle was telling neighbor Kate Sandhaus that she regretted not learning to play an instrument. “Growing up, we just didn’t have the money,” she said. Both women admittedly felt a little left out watching their children and their husbands play instruments together. “Get a ukulele,” Sandhaus said. “I got one for Christmas.” Sandhaus, who played piano as a child, simply thought it would be fun to learn another instrument.
Fowle got a ukulele that week. Soon after other neighbors, Silvia Medrano-Edelstein and Dima Nizzal Duwayri, joined in. Together the four women became the initial core members of what would become The Real Ukuladies of Atlanta. Within four months, the neighborhood mom band grew to 15 members.
The Real Ukuladies of Atlanta began meeting on Friday evenings earlier this year and learning to play the ukulele through YouTube videos. “It’s a lot of fun,” said Fowle. “Even our kids now refer to us as ‘Mom’s band.’” And many of the group members are very studious and work hard practicing in the group and at home on their own. One of the group members remarked, “We may not be tight, but we are uptight.”
According to Medrano-Edelstein, the ukulele name and instrument comes from Portugese explorers who came to Hawaii in the 19th century. In Hawaiian, “uku” translates to “fleas” and “lele” to “jumping” which is a reference to the quick picking action going from fret to fret. “If you want to be a hipster in the know, you pronounce the instrument correctly as ‘oo-koo-laylay’,” said Medrano-Edelstein.
Not only have the Real Ukuladies of Atlanta benefited from the personal learning, but they know their children have watched them “tackle a challenge and succeed, so they have no excuses for not doing the same,” said Fowle. Another core member noted, “My kid sees me overcome stage fright, feels empathy and expresses encouragement!” Their hard work and word-of-mouth publicity has resulted in several recent gigs including the Inman Park Festival and the Benning Bayou Bash (the first CPNO block party of 2017.)
Most of their repertoire focuses on pop and rock songs often learning new songs popular with the younger set and alternatively introducing oldies but goodies in a breezy ukulele style.
At the Bayou Bash, several of their daughters joined them on stage to sing Lady Gaga’s “Million Reasons.” Their next planned gig is the Oakhurst Porch Party. Creating their brand identity was another creative challenge. They casually referred to themselves as “The Ukuladies”. When Sandhaus began setting up a Facebook page, she discovered there were Ukuladies all over the world. (Hello, Ukuladies of Signapore!) The group needed a unique name.
According to Medrano-Edelstein, “Fans riffed on names like ‘Hootie and the Ukuladies’ and ‘Ukuladies and the Blowfish!’” One band member texted, “How about ‘The Real Ukuladies’?” Another replied, “Is this a reference to ‘The Real Housewives of Atlanta’?” Medrano-Edelstein said, “The layered ironies of the reality-show dramatists appealed to the middle-age mom ukulele cover band.”
One spouse took the “Housewives” logo and created a band logo by swapping out their peach for a ukulele. The Real Ukuladies of Atlanta group is considering ways to ‘give back’ by contributing to the Mary Lin music program. Both Mary Lin’s principal Sharyn Briscoe and its music teacher Mr. Marvel are enthused about the new monthly Ukulele and Friends Open Mic Night, which is billed as a family affair.
Still, others in The Real Ukuladies of Atlanta group are adamant that the group maintain its focus on the social aspects of their effort and individual growth of learning to play the ukulele with other Candler Park moms. New Monthly Social Event Featuring Ukuleles! What: Ukulele and Friends Open Mic Night (though other strings are welcome)
When: Every second Thursday of the month, 6:30, starting June 8, 2017 Where: Cameli’s Pizza in L5P on Moreland Cost: Free, but please purchase something at the host restaurant.