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March 7, 2008
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The 'Mighty Uke' a big deal for 'ukesters'

The local ukelele orchestra with a national reputation - The Strum Bums - is being filmed by a Canadian film producer as it performs at a benefit Sunday, said band leader Dan Scanlan.

The full-length documentary called "Mighty Uke" focuses on the worldwide resurgence of the instrument. Though the filmmaker, Tony Coleman, makes documentaries for Canadian public television, he is making and distributing this film worldwide by himself, says Scanlan, adding, "It's a big deal, really, for us ukesters."

When and where to see it? Not until the end of the year, "but don't hold me to it," says Coleman. "As to TV, film and DVD, I hope for all but no deals signed yet."

For the concert Sunday, 3-5 p.m. at St. Joseph's Cultural Center, a host of local musicians will perform with the Strum Bums, using the 20-member group as its "back-up band." Performers include jazz pianist Jim Lowe, folk singer Kelly Fleming, the Buffalo Gals vocal group, Paul Kamm and Eleanore MacDonald, former members of the band Jukolin, and multi-instrumentalist Adam Heilbrun.

The show, which includes a sing-a-long and benefits St. Joseph's cultural programs and the Strum Bum's travel plans to Honolulu to perform at the International Ukulele Festival in July.

The orchestra began as a class taught by Scanlan for seniors six years ago and now performs locally at least once a week at retirement and convalescent homes, schools, fairs and other civic events. Last year the orchestra performed at the New York Ukulele Festival, where it was treated to a standing ovation, said Scanlan, a performer and workshop presenter who is known in the ukulele world by the moniker Cool Hand Uke.

Included in the afternoon are light refreshments and a drawing. Admission is by donation at the door is at 410 S. Church St., Grass Valley.

The show is appropriate for all ages, and no one will be turned away. Contact Scanlan at 477-7393 or

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The Union Updated Mar 13, 2008 04:58AM Published Mar 7, 2008 03:00AM Copyright 2008 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.