Ukeing it up

(Continued from previous post… Fatu Hiva, French Polynesia)

I wandered out into the village our last night in town with my trusty ukulele and by using equal parts luck and my limited knowledge of the French language, ended up finding a group of guys hanging out by their pickup truck playing music while their spouses served dinner to some other cruisers.  The words “restaurant” and “living room” are rather synonymous here.

Not being part of the dinner group I sat down with the guys and lent one of them my ukulele, which they in turn informed me they called a “Kamaka”.  Their ukulele is actually an 8 stringed instrument (4 paired strings) that sounds somewhat similar to a banjo, except with an island flair.

Ok, so you heard them at the end of the video, they wanted me to play.  Play my ukulele (kamaka, whatever) with a group of people who invented the instrument on a tiny little island in the middle of the South Pacific?  Can you say once in a lifetime brag-to-other-people’s-kids-because-I-don’t-have-any-of-my-own opportunity?  Heck ya!  Only one minor SNAFU.  You have to understand, I started learning this instrument a month ago.  I’m mostly self taught (though my friend Rod did give me a heck of a boost to get started and Tiffany assisted when I wasn’t too embarrassed to ask.) This is my first instrument…I can’t even read music! (Likely they couldn’t either, but that’s aside from the point) and this is exactly the second time I’ve played with someone else.  Notice I opted to not cover the previous little “incident” in the blog.

But there was no way I was letting this opportunity pass me by.  If these guys voted me off the island, then so be it, at least I’d swung the bat…or strummed the kamaka as the case may be.  Overall, I think I did OK.  I’m playing the lead (and speaking broken French) at the beginning.

There, it may not have been great but you know what, how may of you have been told by a Polynesian musician in response to your playing, “good music”?  That’s what I thought.  Obviously, I still need practice and for a guy who learned strumming about 2 weeks ago, I think I did OK.

We wrapped up the evening with the leader of the group, Serge, showing me that some songs are universal.  There was a little Eagle Scout inside me that was very happy to hear this,

Guess which song I’m learning next?

–          Greg

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