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Friends Of The Mighty Uke Gather

Ukulele fans start monthly meetings at library to strum, sing on Wednesdays

DALLAS — Doneille Chomiak calls it “the magic of the ukulele.”

She says the instrument has a positive influence on people when they start playing. Shy people begin leading songs. Those overhearing the music are drawn to find the source, she said.

“When you get a group of people playing and singing, all differences fall away,” said Chomiak, one of the leaders of Ukulele Fans of Oregon. “It truly is magical.”

The magical Uke

What: Ukulele Fans of Dallas “strum and sing.”

When: First Wednesday of the month, starting Wednesday (today) at 5:30 p.m.

Where: Dallas Public Library, 950 Main St., Dallas.

Of note: other instruments are welcome.

For more information, 503-623-2633.

The group, UFO for short, wants to bring that magic to Dallas by launching a lending program to check out ukuleles and monthly jam session through Dallas Public Library.

UFO made its official introduction at Summerfest’s “Hawaiian Luau” celebration on Friday.

Chomiak and Laurie Linn, the group’s musical director, said UFO often encounters such timing coincidences that they attribute that to the instrument’s mysterious allure.

Something else might be at play, too.

“It’s the easiest to play, but the hardest to master,” Chomiak said.

Linn said that means people can pick it up without getting frustrated, but they won’t get bored either because there always remains room for improvement.

Whatever the draw, ukuleles and groups meeting to play them are growing in popularity. Chomiak said UFO, which started in Salem, quickly outgrew its first meeting place at Lifesource Natural Foods in South Salem. The Salem Library’s lending program can’t keep ukulele’s in stock.

Thirty-two other libraries in Oregon have contacted the group to help start similar programs.

Friday night’s event brought in more than 20 people to play and watch a documentary about the instrument. UFO announced that it would meet at the Dallas Library for the first time Wednesday (today). Chomiak said the group — Ukulele Fan of Dallas — will begin with monthly meetings and grow from there if necessary.

The library has three ukulele kits available for checkout for those wanting to explore the instrument before joining the group.

“Anytime you can get people smiling and singing, it makes the world a little better place,” Chomiak said.

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