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Ice Cream and Ukuleles In Syracuse, New York
There’s more to New York than Central Park and Lady Liberty. The Empire State, as it is sometimes better known, is also home to several towns that put their own unique spin on what it means to be from New York.
Syracuse, a small city with big Italian food, is the home of Chocolate Pizza, biker bar chain Dinosaur BBQ, The New York State Fair, and plenty of fresh water lakes. As of late, it’s also playing a large role in the resurgence of the ukulele.
The city has plenty of uke clubs, with two of the most popular being SyraUke and Salt City Ukulele. The members of SyraUke, who describe themselves as “an occasional anti-virtuosic come-one-come-all Syracuse ukulele conflagration extravaganza”, meet every two weeks on Saturday afternoons to play. The group is made up of beginners and incredible musicians, but most members lie somewhere in between. In the summer, SyraUke meets in Thornden Park. Other times, they meet at The Art School (1003 E. Fayette Street on the corner of South Crouse and the Spark building). New players are welcome and the club will even provide you with a ukulele if you don’t have one. Compiled songbooks are available on their website.
Salt City Ukulele is also a Syracuse-based ukulele group who meets to perform and learn how to play in a fun and supportive atmosphere. If you’re picking up the ukulele – or any instrument, for that matter – for the first time, the club’s six-week long beginner class is where you want to be. Every Thursday from 6:00 until 7:00pm, beginners learn the basics of how to play and strum with just a few simple chords. The class progresses as slow and steady, and by the end, members will be able to perform with a group of players in a relaxed atmosphere.
For graduates of Uke 101, or anyone comfortable with half a dozen or so common chords, Salt City Ukulele’s Intermediate Workshop teaches more complex chords and picking patterns. Know what you’re doing already? Salt City Ukulele also has gigs and sing-alongs, and something a little more bizarre called Ice Cream Therapy.
Every year, the club hits the road with beginners and experienced players alike to have weekly sing-along gigs at ice cream stands around Central New York. Their repertoire ranges from old songs to new ones, kids’ tunes, folk songs, country, reggae, rock and jazz. If people can sing along to it, they’ll play it.
A warm summer night, a community of passionate ukulele enthusiasts, great songs and a delicious ice cream cone: What could be more therapeutic?
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