If you are interested in playing the ukulele, the Prairie Strummers are hoping to hear from you!
Organizer Jerry Maksymyk started the group back in February 2018 as a way to provide a place for Portage players to strum and have fun. He says he has been privileged to work with many great musicians and he knows not everyone had that luxury.
"I was working as the Executive Director for the Glesby Centre for almost 14 years, and I had the opportunity to meet some very, very fine musicians from across Canada," says Maksymyk. "Being an amateur musician myself, I took it as quite a privilege, and I realized very quickly that a lot of people don't have an opportunity to get together to jam or play. Because I have totally fell in love with the ukulele, it was an opportunity for me to maybe go out and see there were others like me, and sure enough, there were."
The group gets together every first and third Wednesday of the month in the Crocus Room at the Herman Prior Activity Centre from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Maksymyk says they first started in Rotary Housing back in 2018 before moving to the art gallery. He says the Crocus Room is perfect for the group they have now and they hope to grow.
Jerry Maksymyk and the Prairie Strummers are hoping to recruit more ukulele players to their jam nights. Here's a song from the man himself! pic.twitter.com/9zgSPxAAHq— PortageOnline (@PortageOnline_) January 16, 2023
"Currently, we're probably sitting at about 10 to 12," says Maksymyk. "We weren't able, because of COVID, for two-and-a-half years to get together at all, because of singing and so forth, we couldn't be together. I think, when we parted, we probably had about 20 members that were active all the time."
If you're looking for a new instrument to play, he calls the ukulele a great choice, noting it's not as hard to find a quality, inexpensive ukulele as it was a decade ago. He believes it's easier to learn than a guitar, more portable, and calls it a 'sweet sounding instrument' that is fun to play. You don't have to be a master ukulele player to take part, according to Maksymyk. As long as you have a little knowledge of the instrument, you'll be welcome.