By Wayne Smith
The Machias Ukulele Club is a group of performers, that started ten years ago, that play all over Washington County, Maine, and they played in Milbridge. There are around 70 members that play all cover songs. They were the second act to perform at The Milbridge Theatre Outdoor Stage Concert this year. I caught up with Harrington’s own Jim Sawyer, one of first members.
Jim Sawyer tells me that he likes to perform with the Machias Ukulele Club that recently played at the Milbridge live opened Milbridge Theatre Outdoor concert. “I like to perform, tapping my feet, singing along. When the crowd is having a good time, it’s easy to perform. You get a lot of joy to perform. It isn’t nothing that you are going to get a lot money out of,” he said, “people do it because they enjoy it. I looked out at the crowd, and I was surprised how big it was. When I looked out at it, there were young kids, old people, and families,” he said “I try not to be unique. I try to be part of the band because that’s how it works. Everybody is a part of it. Everybody gets on stage and makes music. We are all part of show. It’s not just one of us.”
Sawyer talked about when the movie theatre was in operation and about when the ticket prices went up from a $1.75 to $2.00. He always brought his kids to the movies. He told me it was great for the community to bring it closer together. “If you want to see a movie, you would have to go to Ellsworth. I hated to see the Milbridge Theatre when it closed down in the wintertime. When it was going, you wouldn’t go on a Friday night because that’s when the kids came. It was loud. I was excited to see a movie on another night. I came out of the movie and either I was pleased or disappointed, depending how good the movie was. Usually pleased. But in the end the movie theatre was old and tired. It seemed like it was time to go,” he said.
Sawyer went on and tells me how he enjoys the ukulele club. “People show up for a chance to put on a gig and have a good time. We can’t play all the time, but it’s fun when we can. We get together and play music. “Gene Nichols is the music man that runs the show. He is also the Professor of Music at the University at Machias,” said Sawyer. “He plays the saw, and he makes something out of it. He’s an amazing talent. We play music that people like. It’s good to see people come back and we have a nice following. We all get along and play. People go by and stare and the traffic stops. They are trying to figure out what is going on,” he said.
He told me once you’re a member, you are always a member. Sometimes the stage can be really full. Packed in pretty hard like sardines. He told me that he shows up just in time, finding a place on the stage. He sang in church and around the stove with his mother. He told me that he has never has taken lessons. But always likes it when he performs.
The Milbridge Outdoor Theatre is hoping to start concerts up again, next Spring. You can learn more about their efforts at milbridgetheatre.org.