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HomeUncategorizedDon’t Fret – The Silver Creek International Ukelele Carnival is Back!

Don’t Fret – The Silver Creek International Ukelele Carnival is Back!

There is no mistaking the music of a ukelele, described as a “happy sound,” by Dale Moe, a member of the Two Harbors Ukelele Group (THUG) which organized the first Silver Creek International Ukelele Carnival back in 2010 (or maybe 2011). I would add, since I’ve seen THUG perform, that “happy sound” comes from some pretty happy people who love what they do. They are fun to watch, play a variety of songs, and they cracked me up at the Heritage Day’s Lutefisk Toss this year.

“We’re a unique community,” Dale, who has been part of THUG since it was established by Al Anderson, told me.

“We had a good time. We enjoy each other’s company.”

The Silver Creek International Ukelele Carni­val has been a chance to share the fun and love of the instrument since it began. It started out a little small. Dale said there were seventeen at­tendees when it was first held at the Silver Creek Town Hall. But the next year that number dou­bled, and that trend continued. These days the carnival brings in three hundred ukelele lovers to the area. To accommodate, this year the cel­ebration will be held at the Lake County Fair­grounds in Two Harbors, (which is still Silver Creek Township, so there was no reason to re­name the carnival).

The new location allows for camping spots right at the venue and visitors can bike, hike, and visit local businesses. The fairgrounds give the growing festival more room for visitors and “it’s easier to find,” Dale laughed.

Dale had sat in on his dad’s band over the years, playing guitar and lending vocals in coun­try and polka songs. (There were no ukeleles.) When approached to join THUG, Dale found the transition from guitar to ukelele was not dif­ficult. “It’s four strings instead of six!” he said, also telling me how the ukulele’s nylon strings make it easier on your fingers to play.

From the very beginning, THUG was about so much more than just a band. According to their website, “Our mission is to serve the community by spreading the joy of music through education and live performances. We really enjoy seeing the smiles on our audience’s faces as they hear us for the first time.” I would say, the mission was suc­cessful, as they are popular entertainment. They have been playing 45-50 gigs a year all over Minnesota and neighboring states.

The group plays pop, classics, rock, oldies, and older than oldies. When they played for a younger crowd at the Red Star, they briefly con­sidered changing their playlist. But when they started playing Neil Diamond, the attendees swayed with lighters in the air and danced all night. They knew that they made the right deci­sion to stick to their set. They have great taste.

There is no entry fee to get into the party and it is quite the party. “We have many fine concerts this year,” Dale said. Some major ukulele mu­sicians will play throughout the weekend. Vic­toria Vox, Devin Scott & Ally McNatt, Ukester Brown, Petey Mack, and Chris Russell are some of the headliners who will be performing and will be participating in other events during the carnival. Steve Solkela looks like an interesting act. I’m curious to see how he is a one-man-band but also a 21-piece ensemble.

Other “mini concerts” will be held through­out the fairgrounds. There are also open mics, strum-alongs, and M.U.G rehearsals. (M.U.G equals Massed Ukelele Group). Rehearsals will be held multiple times a day and, on Saturday, the masses of ukelele lovers will perform a con­cert.

It’s more than a concert weekend, though. Re­member in the THUG mission statement there was a mention of education? There will be no shortage of that at the carnival with daily work­shops for beginners and experts. In addition, there will be a variety of food, including Nacho Bizness, catered dinner, a lunch fundraiser for the Two Harbors High School Football Team, and a pancake breakfast hosted by the Two Har­bors High School Cheerleaders. The students’ efforts have made the Ukulele festival their big­gest fundraiser of the year.

THUG will kick off the event by playing at the Paul Gauche Memorial Band Shell at 6:30 on Thursday, after the United Church hosts a Simple Supper. The weekend will wrap up on Sunday with a Gospel Music Jam with David and Judy Remiger. There are so many events in-between, more than I can mention here. I en­courage everyone to visit the twoharborsukule­legroup.com website to view the full schedule and learn more about the group and the festival.

“You should come,” Dale urged me. I replied that I was pretty convinced, in the short time we talked, that I should. He seems to think I’ll be able to spot him in the crowd. He joked, “I’ll be the one with the ukelele!”

Feel free to contact me at sarahwritesnsj@yahoo.com with any news we should news about!

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