Nick Mascotti, 29, has been playing the ukulele for almost a year now, but he recently spent his first day as a part of the Long Island Ukulele Strummers Club. He had traveled all the way from the Bronx to Plainview to join the meeting. Seated in a room filled with fellow ukulele players, Mascotti took out his instrument to show the group his skills.
“This song is for everyone to follow along,” Mascotti said. “It’s all about cats!”
Mascotti then began to strum, singing his original song “What Kind of ‘Cat’ Are You?” – a song that plays on the different uses of the word “cat.” The other members of the club giggled as they tried their best to guess the answers to the clues.
The Long Island Ukulele Strummers Club was formed last October as a way for ukulele enthusiasts to come together to practice and learn new skills. The club meets every other week, usually on Fridays, at the Plainview-Old Bethpage Public Library in Plainview.
“You know, they have clubs that meet like this in Manhattan and in Brooklyn. I figured, if there were people over there who wanted to play, there had to be people out on Long Island with interest, too,” said the mononymous Suzala, 54, of Plainview, who founded the club.
Maureen and her brother Joe McMahon joined the group together— a “brother-sister team,” according to Joe. Both of them had some experience playing guitar, but chose the ukulele because it is a simpler instrument to play.
“It’s amazing what people can do with a ukulele,” said club member Maureen McMahon, 49. “Most of us here are just beginners, too.”
Some members of the group shy away from traditional ukuleles, preferring the more obscure banjolele, a four-string mini banjo ukulele.
“The banjolele creates a completely different type of sound,” said club member Al Aberg, 49.
The club is open to anyone who wants to join regardless of experience.
“It’s a very versatile instrument,” said Joe McMahon, 50. “You’re only limited by your desire to learn how to play.”
Photo: "Brother-sister team" Maureen and Joe McMahon are members of the Long Island Ukulele Strummers Club, which meets bi-weekly at the Plainview-Old Bethpage Public Library in Plainview. (July 26, 2012)