Ukulele fan Nash Peyton shares his uke passion

Reader essay on learning to love the uke

(Nash Peyton )
August 02, 2011|by Nash Peyton

He may have resisted it for a while, but Nash Peyton has joined the ranks of musicians such as Eddie Vedder who are embracing the ukulele. Yes, the ukulele. Nash, 20, a Loyola University student who lives in Lauraville, follows in the footsteps of his father, Don Peyton, who’ll play the ukulele as part of the Happy Houligans at Creative Alliance’s Mobtown Ukefest Saturday. Peyton will be out of town, but will perform at the Creative Alliance on Sept. 9. b asked Nash to tell us why he’s mad about ukes.

I apologize, ukulele, for the years that you spent unnoticed, collecting dust on my shelf. I call these the “dark years.”

You watched patiently while I fiddled with this instrument and the next. Stately classical guitar, rustic steel-stringed acoustic, fun-loving bongos, exotic sitar, comical kazoo — I struck their chords and they struck my fancy while you looked on.

Your worth was not unknown to every member of our household. I often would hear a brother or a sister of yours chiming mellifluously from my father’s room across the hall. At such times, I would think to myself, “Ukulele? Ha! Why would I ever play an instrument with four strings when I have one with fifteen! Especially one that’s so easy to play that my father can do it.” I forgive myself this trespass — I was full of youth and ignorance. I did not understand.

My first experience with the ukulele came during the most unassuming of times, as all great things do. Final exams were coming up, and I was searching for something to take my mind off of my work. I first glanced at the ukulele on my shelf and turned my head back down. I took a few more steps and then slowed. I turned back and gently lifted the ukulele from the shelf and turned it over in my hands.

When I turned the instrument, my finger struck a single note and I felt something inside me jump. I stopped. This time, I readied myself, positioning my fingers carefully along the  ukulele’s neck. I smelled a faint whiff of pineapple. As I struck the chord, I could feel the warm Hawaiian breeze wash over me. My eyes began to close and I plucked a lenient, tropical melody. I could see a peaceful life, with the crystal-clear surf lazily crashing against the unblemished beach. Women in grass skirts wearing bras made of coconuts gyrated their hips wildly.

My shoulders relaxed and the stress that had been building up over so many weeks washed away like a long, slow tide. The ukulele, unlike my classical guitar, is not haughty and obsessed with self-betterment. Unlike my kazoo, it does not try to play the class clown.

It is my small, temporary gateway to a more relaxed life. It’s my home away from home.

Mobtown Ukefest on Saturday includes workshops (2-6 p.m.), a marketplace (2-7 p.m.) and an open mic session (5:30 p.m.) for free. The uke concert is at 7:30 p.m. and is $10-$15. For more information, go to creativealliance.org.

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