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Updated: Jun 9

The Genesis of Gotham City Ukes

The Genesis of Gotham City Ukes: Back in 2009, a good friend and colleague of mine decided to start an after school program teaching second, third, and fourth graders ukulele. At the time, I often used guitar in my music classes (or if I was tired, I would plop down at the piano). My eldest daughter, Chloe, was in Grade 2 at the time and absolutely loved the ukulele after school class. I decided to sit in on a class, and what I saw was joyful, relaxed, and well…simply perfect! I immediately purchased a ukulele and with some tips from my colleague who started the after school program (she happened to be my school's Director of Athletics) I was off and running - or should I say “strumming.” I started assisting her with the class and eventually took it over when she retired. The class was so popular it always had a waiting list. Therefore, I decided to add ukulele to our Grade 3 and 4 curriculum. And it’s been an integral part ever since. 

Oh yeah…what about Gotham City Ukes? Well…in those early years there was in existence the New York City Uke Festival run by Ken “Bari” Murray (who now owns and operates the Uke Hut retail store in Astoria, Queens.) For 2 years, I took Chloe and a couple of her friends to the festival - and it was phenomenal. The workshops, the artists, the vendors, the merch - everything. Then just like that - it ended. In the years since, I often reminisce about my earliest ukulele years and in particular, that fabulous festival. 

Fast forward to 2023. The ukulele is now officially my jam. I’ve built a strong following on Instagram and have made great connections with international artists, as well as ukulele lovers from across the globe. One thing I’ve noticed is there is no major organization in the greater NYC area for uke players. Gwendolyn Fitz runs the fabulous Brooklyn Ukulele Festival but beyond that, there are just some small localized groups that get together. I envision an organization that would not only include the whole of the NYC area but expand across the world! To do this, the group needs to have a significant online presence, which I have already established on Instagram. We will begin with regular online “Zoom” play-alongs, open mics, and workshops. We will quickly expand to include in-person play-alongs, open mics, and workshops. Together, we will build a couple different core groups - the local “in-person” group, and the “international” group. In the near future, the in person group will have opportunities to perform in NYC communities. I also want to create performance opportunities for the international group as well, through video collaborations. Those of you who know me, know I love collaborations and even the editing process! And finally…the dream…an annual ukulele festival! One that takes the best elements of the former New York City Uke Festival and adds our own unique spin. It won’t be as big - at least for starters - but who knows where we’ll go once we get rolling!

GCU wants you! Will you join the GCUF (Gotham City Uke Force)? There is no membership fee - EVER! and you can participate as much or as little as you would like. However, when we do community events, there will be a requirement for a certain number of rehearsals. And of course, when we have ukulele artists come in for workshops and performances, there will be tickets required if you choose to attend. One of the things I’m most excited about is our in-person play-alongs. We’ll bounce around the city, hang out in Central Park (when it’s warm!) and share not only great songs, but lots of laughs, drinks and snacks, and most importantly - fellowship. 

The bottom line is, the GCUF is about building community. A community of ukulele-fanatics for sure, but also a group that brings our passion for music and our little 4-stringed friend to the people of Gotham.

I think we need this in our lives right now. Do you agree? If so, JOIN US! 

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