The Hippo


Dec 7, 2019








A past New Hampshire Ukulele Picnic. Courtesy photo.

Attend the third annual New Hampshire Ukulele Picnic

Where: Greeley Park, 100 Concord St., Nashua
When: Saturday, Aug. 15, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Admission: Free, part of Nashua SummerFun program
More information: Schedule and workshop information can be found on the New Hampshire Ukulele Picnic Facebook page
While you’re there: The Greeley Park Art Show is also on Saturday, Aug. 15, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., in the park. Visit

Calling all ukesters
Bask in happiness at Ukulele Picnic

By Kelly Sennott

Why play the ukulele? June Pinkham says it’s the “world’s happiest instrument.”

“It really is. People might argue with this, but I think it’s really hard not to play a happy tune on a ukulele,” Pinkham, a member of the Southern New Hampshire Ukulele Group, said via phone last week. “It’s also very easy to learn how to play, and it’s very portable. I take mine on our sailboat. I think the simplicity of it is what makes it very appealing to a lot of people.”
And so the third annual New Hampshire Ukulele Picnic this Saturday, Aug. 15, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., is a happy one; it occurs at Greeley Park, and “ukesters” from all over will be listening to and strumming on the ukulele, in the park and onstage.
Nashua residents Michael and Ben Chung started the event in 2013. Ukulele picnics, Michael Chung said, are common in Hawaii, where he’s from, and he thought New Hampshire could use something of the sort. The father-son team got a lot of support, both from the City of Nashua and from the participants; they figured a crowd of 50 attendees was a fair estimate for the first event. Instead, they saw 300. During a group jam, which organizers call “New Hampshire Woodstock,” 153 people played “This Land is Your Land” simultaneously, which is an unofficial world record.
Michael Chung was surprised to find so many Granite State ukulele players. The Southern New Hampshire Ukulele Group, which boasts more than 200 members, organizes the 2015 event, but it’s just one of the many uke groups in the area. 
Lots of stage performers have local roots, including MB Padfield (based in Manchester, who plays at 11 a.m.), Ukestra (based in Nashua, playing at 11:30 a.m.), Frets Halligan (who has started many community ukulele groups in Maine, playing at 12:30 p.m.), The Kukuleles (which originated in Milford at the ukulele school, Ukulele Revolution, playing at 1 p.m.), The Ben Chung Trio (which contains father-son team and vocalist Corinne Bernsten, playing at 1:30 p.m.), the Songwriters of New Hampshire Group (SONG, playing at 2 p.m.), Jeff Bellin (based in Boston, playing at 2:30 p.m.) and SNHUG (playing at 3 p.m.).
Pinkham said she’d like to see even more ukesters this year; event programs will contain not only the day’s happenings, but also sheets of ukulele music with songs like “We Will Rock You” by Queen,“Black and White” by Three Dog Night, “Eight Days a Week” by The Beatles and “Shake it Off” by Taylor Swift. At 3:30 p.m., there will be an attempt to break 2013’s strumming record. 
Pinkham thinks it can happen; the instrument’s become very cool the past few years, with thanks to pop stars like Swift, who’s occasionally taken hers out for concerts. The economy could be to blame, too.
“For some reason, ukuleles have grown in popularity the past several years. Last time they were this popular was during the Great Depression,” Pinkham said.
Seven top-of-the-line ukuleles will be raffled off, and workshops for experienced and beginner players happen between concerts. (Some, like “Two Chord Songs for All Ages” taught by Amy Conley, have loaner ukes available.) Net proceeds from the picnic raffle will go to the Ukulele Kids Club, a 501(c)(3) national organization dedicated to helping sick children by donating ukuleles to music therapy programs at hospitals nationwide.
UKC founder Corey Bergman, based in Miami, started the nonprofit a couple years ago, and The Elliot Hospital was one of its first ukulele recipients. He thinks the instrument is perfect for music therapy for the same reason Pinkham likes it.
“[A] ukulele is very small. It has four strings, and it’s the easiest instrument to learn. A 6-year-old can learn four to five chords in about five minutes,” Bergman said via phone. “When kids are hooked up to an IV tube, a ukulele is such an easy, sweet instrument. We deliver them ourselves, and they’re beautiful.” 
As seen in the August 13, 2015 issue of the Hippo.

®2019 Hippo Press. site by wedu