Dan Scanlan promotes the ukulele | TheUnion.com

Dan Scanlan promotes the ukulele

Carol Feineman

For the last 42 years, Dan Scanlan has never been far from a ukulele.

Since 1961, when a college friend handed him a banjo ukulele to tinker with, Scanlan has remained hooked on the four-stringed instrument invented in Hawaii during the late 1880s. With 10 solo ukulele CDs released, Scanlan even has a Web site (www.coolhanduke.com) featuring an abundance of ukulele information.

The Grass Valley resident, who also plays guitar and harmonica, has been featured at the Ukulele Hall of Fame Museum in Rhode Island, the International Ukulele Festival in Honolulu and the World’s Fair in Lisbon. Two months ago, Scanlan performed at the Fat Cat Pie Co. – a restaurant in Connecticut – after several customers, who had seen his Ukulele Hall of Fame Museum performances the year before, recommended him.

Locally, Scanlan’s 35-member Cool Hand Uke’s Strum Bums Ukulele Extravaganza Rescue and Relief Band plays three or four times a month at convalescent homes and community events, with more performances scheduled during the Christmas season. The group’s name was earned “because from the beginning, we’d go to convalescent homes to spread some relief around,” Scanlan explained.

Formed three years ago this October, the Strum Bums actually started out as a class Scanlan led at the Senior Center. Still meeting there every Thursday from 3:30 to 5 p.m., the class attracts all ages. The Senior Center charges $1 for members and $2 for nonmembers.

“This is my golf. The planet is in danger; the planet needs stuff like the ukulele,” Scanlan laughed. “People smile when they hear the ukulele. It’s disarming and friendly. The planet needs disarming. You can say some heavy things with the ukulele; I’ve attacked every administration.”

Cool Hand Uke’s Strum Bums Ukulele Extravaganza Rescue and Relief Band will play a combination of old standards, country music, folk music and originals Saturday afternoon at the Empire Mine State Historic Park Fine Arts Show and Spring Open House. Scanlan’s Jukolin Band, in which he is (naturally) on ukulele, will follow with “neo-fangled porch music.” Both bands played at the Uke Fest West cosponsored by the Ukulele Hall of Fame Museum two weekends ago in Santa Cruz.

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