Sat, Dec 14 2013 12:00 PM Posted By: Richard Peña
The song starts out by telling us that first there was Donner and Blitzen and then four other animals who pulled Santa’s sleigh around on Christmas morning, but then Santa ran into trouble. The North Pole suddenly became like Southern California with a thick fog setting in making visibility zero, as the guy in the airplane would have put it. Santa needed help. So he yelled “Mayday” and in stepped Rudolph with his “red nose” saving the day for at least one more year.
I toss in this bit of trivia because a few days ago the Merrie Ukes, Bonita’s own ukulele group, continued a tradition and entertained the folks at the Villa Bonita with their annual Christmas program. And with this program the virtuosos of the group have given me my 15 minutes (more like five minutes) of fame and allowed me to sing the verse to “Rudolph, The Red-Nose Reindeer.”
The Merrie Ukes have entertained at Villa Bonita many times in the past. The Villa Bonita is the assisted living establishment on Bonita Road just out of the entrance to the village. It has been there for some years and has a good number of permanent residents. These coupled with a dedicated staff and better than average ambiance make for a pleasant venue.
This assembly of musicians has entertained with ukulele, and other string instruments, at many of the assisted living homes in the South Bay. And with this opportunity to play, not only for themselves but for another segment of society the group has grown to where it resembles a symphonic company minus the brass.
As we have mentioned in the past the ukulele group was founded in 2003 by Bonitan John Porner and three others. One of these, Ellie Fulks, is still one of the mainstays. The original meeting place was Chula Vista’s Senior Center on F Street. Through word of mouth and other publicity the ukes grew adding guitars, banjos and other string instruments. These items along with pleasant singing voices have added a mellow tone to the group’s offerings. A couple of years back the group found a new home at the community room of the Bonita/Sunnyside Country Library.
Because of the many positive aspects that the Christmas Season might have, the music emanating from it has become a sort of a favorite among musical artists, the Merrie Ukes being no exception. There is no limit to what the Ukes Christmas program might have. For example one of the Christmas offerings, the ever popular and solemn, “Silent Night” is sung in German, Spanish as well as English and if one listens closely he might find that there is also a bit of Hawaiian in the melody and lyrics. With efforts like this the leaders of the group have shown innovation of a pleasant type.
Such a thing could have drawbacks. A few years ago the group was entertaining at a library gathering at Christmas time and Jim Mau, a guitar player in the group sang a solo, “Edelweiss” a song from the “Sound of Music.” Upon completion the audience was asked if they would like to share a song and a 4th grade youngster answered that she know that song, meaning “Edelweiss” and sang it with Mau accompanying. She brought down the house which lends credence to the old vaudeville saying, “Never follow a child act.”
The aforementioned Ellie Fulks recently had major surgery and promised that on her return she would sing a solo provided someone joined her in making it a duet.
I was selected and a couple of weeks back Ellie and I gave our rendition of “Sweet Molly Malone.” Most of us remember Molly who lived in Dublin, sold fish door to door and died of a fever. I saw Ellie the other day and told her that my son David and his wife, Terri are currently in Dublin. “They are bringing me back a present,” I told her and she asked what.
“Cockles and mussels,” I told her. I have often wondered what they were.
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