Over the past decade or so, the ukulele has grown tremendously in popularity among a wide variety of people, helped by its use by popular artists such as Jason Mraz and Ingrid Michaelson. The trend hit the Midlands recently when University of South Carolina music student Tim Hall got a grant to start the Cola (not Columbia, though that’s where it’s located) Ukulele Band. Since its beginning, the band has attracted members of all ages, from elementary school children to grandparents.
Hall’s friend Don Russo helped organize the band and he says the ukulele’s popularity can be traced to the facts that the instrument is inexpensive and easy to learn. Jessica Skinner now leads the group, which practices monthly at a Columbia music store, and she says it’s a happy instrument. Her student, retiree John Finch, is a fan of the Beatles, whose music he grew up on. He gives another solid reason to play the music of the Beatles, Van Morrison, the Drifters and more: it makes him feel young again. Good reasons, all.