They met in the pub Dominion on Wednesday night, as they do each week. Several bankers, teachers, tutors, fire captains, lawyers, graphic artists, students and elderly people, hipsters and squares, poured it over the bar and the back room.
Eighty people crowded into a confined space. At eight o'clock, a countdown has begun. When it reaches zero a blur of hands throbbed wildly, and the outbreak of the inner life in an accident rattling notes, a joyous cacophony of signage ukelele night, the Dominion, had begun.
"Uke is my tonic," said Debbie Fleming, one of the residents. Old and young, talented and tone deaf, hip and square, no matter in this pub, Queen Street East.
This feeling is closed. Suddenly, a small tool that everyone forgot everywhere.
This weekend marks the New York Uke Fest, a three-day event with artists ukulele from Hawaii, Japan, France, South America and Australia, plus a host of workshops, including "The Complete Beatles on ukulele "and" Let's Make Music Hawaiian Style ".
"It was busy," said organizer Jeff Novak, a municipal employee, the 62-year college during the day and a ukulele fanatic in the making. "I am an apprentice in the ukulele. I took a year ago."
Ukulele festivals have sprung up in Florida, Montana, Oregon, northern California, Thailand, Spain and New Zealand - to name a few.
Eddie Vedder, singer of Pearl Jam and Grunge brooding prince, released a solo album of songs on the ukulele, Ukulele Songs called in late May
You can hear the ukulele in commercial jingles (Rice Krispies, Cialis, Travelocity, Etoy) Grammy Awards (Train Hey Soul Sister), it gives backpacks The Cool Kids "and overcrowding in bars in North America and community centers for the weekly jam.
Worldwide sales of ukulele soar, more than 400,000 in 2010, according to a source. Hawaiian ukulele manufacturers are struggling to meet demand. Brooklyn music stores are depleted. Bette Midler has presented Barack Obama with a ukulele as a gift for their daughters.
"Ukulele has not yet reached a comprehensive approach, which was in 1920," said Jim TRANQUADA Ukulele upcoming author of the book: the story. "Then you can walk into any department store in the U.S. and buy a ukulele. They were literally everywhere."
Great Ukulele boom went bust in 1930, has roared back to life in the fifties, before being sentenced to death in the sixties by four boys from Liverpool.
John, Paul, George and Ringo, and the electric guitar was cool. The ukulele? Not so much. Still less by the end of the decade, a strange man with a falsetto voice and a ukulele passed through the tulips and laughter Rowan and Martin In and The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson.
"It's not fair to blame the decline of Tiny Tim and the ukulele," says Peter Luongo, director of elementary school and director of Langley, BC student ukulele orchestra of the city is widely regarded as among the connoisseurs ukulele ukulele as the capital of Canada .
"Tiny Tim was a good player, very sincerely. But Rowan and Martin and Johnny Carson are not there to take the instrument seriously. They were there to make fun of it."
Joke stuck. In recent years, ukulele sales sank to historic lows and were counted in the hundreds each year. Scores disappeared from music stores and instruments have been relegated to the dusty corners of the attic of a grandmother, a piece of gadgetry kitsch pop culture, which has its expiry date.
But times change.
Mr. Luongo is a student at Chalmers Doane, a music teacher, a member of the Order of Canada, and ukulele virtuoso, which is the period in which the instrument was to withdraw from the world planted Halifax City Schools Music Director.
"No matter what instrument you choose - flute, trumpet, piano, bass guitar, or mandolin," said Doane in 1977. "Nobody can compare with the ukulele as a teaching of music."
Langley embraced the vision of Mr. Doane. After suffering a few bumps because of cutbacks in the 1990s, the ukulele instrument training for 10 local schools, while Langley together a cast of all-star players students had a summer concert standing in a hotel in Waikiki for 16 years.
In Toronto, the daughter of Mr. Doane, Melanie, star of Juno Award-winning indie pop, led ukulele has a handful of schools. Just the other day, he led a group of students from beginners Withrow Public School in the city on the east side is a song or two for their spring concert. The place erupted.
"Today the kids have never heard of Tiny Tim," said Luongo. "There is no shame. And, frankly, a ukulele is easy to learn.
"I could let you play in 10 minutes. And when you hit your peak and you can not do better than anyone yells.
"People pull out the ukulele fun."
Everything the beginner really needs an Internet connection. YouTube is full of "how-to" video. Ukulele is also cheap - a passable tool costs about $ 50 - and portable.
"The Internet has played a huge role in popularizing the ukulele," said Jim Tranquada. "It allowed members of a dispersed community, which in some cases do not even know they are a community and just thought they were the person who loves strange ukulele, go online and find bulletin boards, websites and videos with lessons. "
Seriously ukulele musicians could be the ultimate test in a longer occurs, the digital sound polite.
"It 's like a pencil, if you are an artist with chalk're going to get the truth," says the Toronto documentary maker, Tony Coleman, who is going through Mighty Uke, awarded for his ode to New ukulele York this weekend.
"You will know if a guy is an artist or not, when all he has is a pencil."
Jake Leonardo Shimabakuro of ukulele players. The Hawaiian 33-year-old has exploded in importance in 2006 after posting a video where he paid tribute to his hero, George Harrison (a closet fan ukulele) with a ukulele version of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps."
It is incredible. We recommend it, because it can more than 8 million other people who have expressed a clip. Mr. Shimabakuro has since recorded with cellist Yo-Yo Ma, carried the Queen and appeared on Late Night with Conan O'Brien. Do not laugh, but amazed.
The ukulele is the month of March, but not without resistance.
"We're already seeing some back", said Jim Tranquada. "It got to a point where people start to feel resentment, and people who have played for years are beginning to feel that everything has lost control.
"People make rude comments in the network have seen the logo:. E 'with anarchists Ukueles You can ask my son for 17 years and he will tell you there's nothing more cool ukulele .."
And yet, on Wednesday evening at the Dominion, 80 ukulele jangled merrily away, just as they were the week before. All smiled. He could not stop. What could be colder?