South Tahoe ukulele group continues to grow |

South Tahoe ukulele group continues to grow

Griffin Rogers
The South Shore Ukulelians play a song together at Mo's Place on April 8.
Griffin Rogers / Tahoe Daily Tribune |

It’s not every day you get to hear Willie Nelson’s “Crazy” played by about 50 ukuleles simultaneously, but that’s exactly what you can expect Tuesday nights at Mo’s Place in South Lake Tahoe.

On any given week, about 30 to 50 ukulele players show up at the bar to jam on their instruments, shout out songs and have a cold one.

It’s a fair amount of people for such a small town, said Bob Fannan, one of the group’s organizers, and the event’s popularity is only spreading.

New people show up to the meet each week and are given a book of songs to play along. They are even loaned a ukulele, if needed.

“To tell you the truth, I’m not surprised it’s taking off,” said Fannan, who chooses which songs to play and leads the crowd from the front of the room. “It’s fun.”

The ukulele, a traditional four-stringed Hawaiian instrument, is relatively easy to play at a beginner’s level. Fannan said that’s one reason why more and more people are picking one up.

“I could teach you three chords in five minutes,” he said, “and you play a third of what’s on our (song) book.”

Last Tuesday, about 50 people showed up to the weekly event. It’s a significant boost from the 12 players who were initially involved with the South Shore Ukulelians when it formed last June.

Fannan and his wife, Diane, and friends, Jeff and Karen Miner, founded the group. He said he got the idea after meeting up with other “ukulelians” while on vacation in San Diego.

“It was the most fun I’ve ever seen,” he said. “It was all those people having a great time.”

Upon returning home, he decided to organize a group of his own and find a place where people could play together. He eventually found Mo’s Place, and bartender Scott Shehadi said he’s more than happy to have them.

The group provides a significant boost to his business, he said.

“Without them on a Tuesday night, we’d be very quiet,” Shehadi said.

Mary Lou Whitcomb, a South Lake Tahoe resident, was busy strumming away at her ukulele during last Tuesday’s meeting. She had attended the event several times before and has been playing the ukulele for 57 years.

“I love it,” she said. “My friend, she’s been going through some stuff in her life, but she comes here and it lifts her up.”

Fannan said the South Shore Ukulelians has grown beyond the South Shore, attracting people from Minden, Gardnerville and around the Carson Valley. The get-togethers are free, open to the public and are held Tuesdays from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

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