by Jim Ridley
Tonight's offering at Vanderbilt's "International Lens" film series combines two things dear to Country Life's heart: free stuff, and ukulele music.
At 7:30 p.m., Vanderbilt's Sarratt Cinema hosts a free screening of Mighty Uke, Tony Coleman and Margaret Meagher's documentary about the revival of interest in the four-stringed instrument:
Originally brought to Hawaii by Portuguese immigrants, the tiny instrument first captured the musical imaginations of the Hawaiian royal court in the 1880’s. With the dawn of the radio broadcasting age, ukulele music owned the airwaves. Broadway produced ukulele musicals. Hollywood produced ukulele movie stars. The little instrument was so inexpensive and easy to play that by the early twenties the uke was the most popular instrument in the American home and the first musical voice for millions of children. Over the next thirty years the uke was number one, and then, with the rise of rock and roll guitar, faded into nerdy obscurity, until now.
Nerdy obscurity, my ass, says Tiny Tim. Anyway, the filmmakers chart the triumphant 21st century resurrection of ukulele music from Swedish punk to California pop. On hand to introduce the film will be Blair School of Music senior lecturer Jennifer Gunderman — who, on a side note, was great sitting in the other night at Family Wash with Paul Burch and the WPA Ballclub (if not on ukulele).
Afterward, there'll be a brief concert by Nashville ukumaniacs the Ukedelics. (We guarantee it won't be a No Ukes concert.) Come early, stay late, and party til you uke.