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Ed Justen By Ed Justen • June 11, 2018

Singing and Strumming

Screen Shot 2018-06-10 at 10.20.27 PMNot much to say for this week's #Sunday200 post other than I had great time leading my first ukulele sing/strum along at the annual Cabot Square Day block party in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

For those that don't know, Cabot Square Day is hosted by Portsmouth NH resident John Mayer, who, coincidently, lives on Cabot Street, near downtown Portsmouth. Being the progressive city that it is, Portsmouth closes down its downtown one Saturday a year for a huge citywide festival attracting thousands of residents and visitors.

John, being the progressive resident that he is, tapped into this energy and began organizing a corresponding  block party on the same day, gaining permission from the city close off the street, and rallying his neighbors to join in by inviting family and friends to spend a summer afternoon partying in the street. 

34731831_10155612337701662_2894157364447936512_nIt just so happens that John is also a founding member of the Leftist Marching Band, an activist street band born to protest the Bush administration (and still going strong) and the event is a mainstay of the band's summer calendar. John also invites other musical friends to join in the fun, and this year asked me if I wanted to lead a ukulele hoot sing-along after the main band festivities were complete.  As it turns out, there are a few uke strummers, guitar, and mandolin players among the band, as well as among friends of the band. 

I have great confidence leading a band, but my uke and song-leading skills still need some work. Regardless, I accepted John's invite and prepped a few tunes. However, I left the index card at home that had the songs I wanted to do, so I ended up winging it and had to thumb through my 1200 song pdf to find some appropriate tunes. Luckily, fellow bandmate and uke strummer Anne had her Daily Ukulele songbook available to help save the day.

The end result? About an hour of great fun strumming though some familiar sing-alongs (Country Roads, Leaving on a Jet Plane) protest tunes (This Land is Your Land) and even the trippy 60's and 70's (Brown Eyed Girl and Moondance anyone?), and a perfect end to a great day of music and friends. 

Next time, I take a photo of my music list to store on my iPhone. Better yet, I'll do my best to memorize some words.