PATRIOT LEDGER.com – The first South Shore Ukulele Festival was a success. On Saturday at Laura’s Center for the Arts in Hanover, Juli Morgan of Whitman, who teaches guitar and ukulele at the South Shore Conservatory in Hingham, and two Berklee College of Music professors, guitar/bass player Jon Finn and drummer Larry Finn, led a contingent of 60 ukulele players in a concert of popular music.
Ed Fitzwilliam, 85, of Hingham was aglow. After taking up the ukulele late in life, he was onstage at Laura’s Center for the Arts with a speaking part in a live rendition of Dion’s “Runaround Sue” at the first South Shore Ukulele Festival.
“I thought it was terrific. It was a lot of fun, and they had some really good music,” Fitzwilliam said. “There was a lot of real good talent there.”
Other songs included “You Are My Sunshine”; “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”’; “Stand by Me” and “Shake it up Baby,” arranged by teacher Juli Morgan of Whitman for ukulele.
The festival drew some 60 ukulele players and others who came to listen. It was organized by Morgan with the South Shore Conservatory in Hingham, where she teaches guitar and ukulele. She also teaches ukulele at area senior centers and after-school partnerships through the conservatory.
Joining her on stage were two professors from the Berklee College of Music: Jon Finn of Whitman, known as a virtuoso guitarist, who played bass and Larry Finn (no relation) on drums.
For the two-hour festival, Morgan had prepared sheets showing the music to be played with diagrams for the chords and lyrics which were projected on stage so people in the audience could follow along playing and singing.
Several members of her ukulele classes at the Hingham and Norwell senior centers were there, including Lisa Smith and Pat Adamson of Hingham, Alfred Cox of Braintree and Paul Freiberger of Norwell.
Morgan is known among seniors for her easy-going and encouraging manner of teaching. Adamson, 71, said the festival continued that style.
“Juli always says that you can’t make a mistake — if you play the wrong note just move on,” Adamson said. “This was was my first time doing anything like this festival and not knowing what to expect. It was fun, and it was great seeing the younger kids coming in with their ukuleles, too.”
Trudy Harney, 76, of Marshfield, who plays the French horn with the Rusty Skippers Band of Cohasset and the Bay Band in Duxbury, brought her ukulele and strummed along. Harney said she recently has taken up the simpler ukulele as well because “this is so much more portable” and “fits better” with her contra dancing interests.
Melissa Rice of Braintree brought her son, Connor, 4, who is just starting to learn how to play the ukulele, and her daughter, MacKenzie, 5.
Rosa Dambrosio, 19, of Plymouth strummed along on her ukulele; senior Barbara Betzger of Braintree came to listen.
“It sounded like fun,” Betzger said.
Anne Smith, senior director of community engagement, welcomed everyone and noted the conservatory has started a new seniors ukulele program at its campus in Duxbury.
“It seemed like everyone had fun,” Morgan said. “One of my favorite moments was when Jon, Larry, and I played really quietly and we could hear all the other ukuleles. It was so great to have all of those people sharing music together. Most of the people were able to play the songs all the way through.”