“More music, more love” is the mantra of the harmonious Coronado Ukulele Club that boasts up to 40 members, with weekly attendance at practices averaging 15 dedicated individuals, who all come together with a shared love of music. With members ranging in age from 17 to 94, the lively ensemble plays their ukuleles and sings around town at a variety of events including local fundraisers, for the Lahaina fire victims, the Coronado Music Festival, Concerts in the Park, Easter Sunrise Service, and many more.
The origin of the ukulele, which translates to ‘uku for flea and lele for jumping,’ is the most familiar Hawaiian instrument dating back to 1879, when Portuguese settlers from Madeira brought a small braguinha guitar to the islands. Did you know that ukuleles come in four main sizes, from soprano, concert, tenor, to baritone? Ranging in dimension from 21 inches to 30 inches, these small guitar-like instruments can be used to play chords, strum, or for finger picking. Member Joe Melloy has a double ukulele that combines a concert and bass ukulele into one unique instrument.
The club’s upbeat musical repertoire encompasses a wider range of songs than I had imagined. From traditional Hawaiian songs to Hank Williams, Harry Belafonte, Jimmy Buffett, Led Zeppelin and beyond. I couldn’t help tapping along to “Under the Boardwalk” and “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” during a weekly rehearsal I attended. They even livestream practices, for the members who have moved away and still crave the connection.
The group was started in 2015 by Daniel Perwich, who has lived in Coronado for 33 years, after picking up a ukulele in Hawaii. Through the years, they have met in various locations, but have now found a home at Sacred Heart Church. When the club’s musical director and local resident Tricialynn Naval is not corralling third graders, she is performing music or DJing throughout the county. She plays most instruments, and also teaches ukulele classes in San Diego. One of her goals as musical director of the group is to “help musicians build confidence as performers.” During rehearsal, she engages all the members, and reminds them to smile to make their singing even better.
Member Dawn Richards shared that “music makes my life. I lived in Hawaii and love the ukulele and island music.” Chris Hajjar says, “I love to jam with the group;” he is Tricia Lynn’s neighbor and is self-taught. Mike Woiwode, who is musically inclined, plays the accordion and sings, but had never played a string instrument until he taught himself the ukulele. Larry Nuffer, who previously played the clarinet and sang, helped start the group with Daniel and learned to play the ukulele by watching YouTube.
Anyone is welcome to join, regardless of ability or where you live, and be prepared to be in good company with celebrities such as Taylor Swift, Tiny Tim, George Harrison, Ryan Gosling, Dwayne Johnson, and Zooey Deschanel to name a few, who also play the ukulele. The Coronado club is currently looking for a percussionist who can play the congo, bongo, or snare drums.
Weekly rehearsals are Mondays from 3:45 to 5 pm at Sacred Heart Church music room, 655 C Ave. Musicians with all instruments are invited to join the monthly Kanakapila jam sessions at Serrano’s Restaurant, 126 Orange Avenue, on the first Monday of the month from 4 to 6 pm. And don’t miss the Holiday Sing-along on December 16 from 3 to 4 pm at the Coronado Library.
For more about this harmonious group that is sure to make you smile, check out their website at http://www.coronadoukuleleclub.com/ and follow them on Instagram and Facebook.