Ukulele Society of Decatur go out every other week to spread happiness. They play at senior citizens homes, farmers’ markets and other public events. And any money they make, they give away!
“It’s not an intimidating instrument to pick up and play,” said John Anderson. “It’s an activity you can do with other people and it’s gratifying to go out and have people to respond to the music enthusiastically. It’s just something we’ve always enjoyed.”
The quartet, which includes Doug Allison and Pete Senkowski, plays a wide variety of music, including toe-tapping pop tunes from the first half of the 20th century (“Ain’t She Sweet,” “The Sunny Side of the Street,” and “Autumn Leaves”) as well as some Hawaiian favorites (“Maui” and “My Little Grass Shack”).
The Andersons met each other four decades ago at the University of Michigan. After graduating, they married and moved to Atlanta. John Anderson, who had started on the clarinet at 12, got his wife interested in music. She picked up the dulcimer and the guitar and started performing in a Renaissance group and later, a country-folk band called The Stone Mountain Country Band. The couple also formed a polka group.
The Andersons said they began playing the ukulele on the back porch during the evening for fun and relaxation. The performing group evolved from that, about five or six years ago. “I think it’s just been wonderful,” said Lynda Anderson. “I think I always had a lot of ability. I didn’t get to develop it as a child but I did as an adult. I really love doing it. It’s been amazing to perform. I never thought of myself being a performer.”
Fionnula Fiddle features Atlanta fiddlers Katherine Irwin Thomas and Suzanne Harner performing traditional music from Ireland and Scotland. Only separated by twelve miles of sea at the nearest point, it’s not surprising that Ireland and Scotland share several cultural connections such as language, whiskey, sheep – and especially great fiddle tunes! After playing several gigs with talented friends Claire Shirey (fiddle, concertina, dance) and Lauren Fariss (accordion, piano, guitar), Kat looked at Suzanne and said, “Hey, we should be a proper band…” Suzanne agreed and thus, Fionnula Fiddle was born. Influenced by some of the biggest fiddle groups in the British Isles – Altan, Blazin’ Fiddles, Session A9 – Fionnula Fiddle strives to bring the beauty, the fire and the craic of traditional fiddling from the Highlands to home.