by Elaine Corrington
HURLEYVILLE, August, 2020– Many moons ago, the Hurleyville Ukulele Orchestra was formed to play in a “Vaudeville in the Catskills” performance in the theater of the Sullivan County Museum. There were a couple of people who had sung or played instruments in high school, college, or professionally, but none had performed with ukuleles. A challenge had been put forth by a person who always made a New Year’s Resolution to do something that was scary. The scary thing in 2012 was supposed to be to audition, not to win a spot– actually being chosen to be in the show was not expected.
With the horrifying discovery of unexpected success came a very fast and furious determination to not have to do this performance alone. At the January meeting of the local Hurleyville-Sullivan first Renaissance group in the Hurleyville Firehouse- the reluctant winner tossed out some ukuleles and a few starter songs, and begged the group to join in. And they DID!! All of a sudden it wasn’t scary- it was fun.
And, we decided to call ourselves an Orchestra (with full recognition of just how un-orchestral we were, for Pete’s sake). With some breaks and trips already scheduled among the Uker’s, we practiced when we could and put together a couple of songs we could do. At the end of March, the show went on. Audiences seemed to have a great time with the whole show (desserts helped!).
People came and went over the years, and we played at SNU monthly and did shows here and there. Then came the pandemic– an awful reality that allowed us to remember fondly the Hurleyville of even six months ago– and wishes to recapture that community where something so simple could be fun and neighborly. Since April, it was clear that we were not going to be able to practice and perform together for a long time. In the middle of July, we found that meeting at the Fireman’s Park right on Main Street allowed us to wear masks and socially distance ourselves and play music- in the midst of cars and trucks passing, pedestrians strolling by, occasional waves and honks, and lots of laughing.
It has now become a tiny revival in the middle of a small hamlet. A revival that welcomes people who want to join in with something new that celebrates something old!