The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

February 28, 2014

Odell sponsors festival of food and music

The Clinton Herald

---- — MORRISON, Ill. — The Odell Public Library will host an evening of fun and music in the Oak Room of the Prairie Ridge Country Club on Friday, March 14.

A potato bar with all the trimmings and music from the Ukulele Connection will be on tap. The $12 ticket will include the potato bar, soft drinks, coffee, water and the choice of two desserts, plus the music of the trio musicians. All proceeds benefit Odell Public Library.

Food will be served from 5:30 to 7 p.m. The Ukulele Connection will begin the music of Set I at 6:30. After a short break for dessert, Set II will be from 7:45 to 8:30 PM. Tickets are on sale at the library and at Fitzgerald’s Drugstore. Tickets at the door will be $15.

The Ukulele Connection is trio of musicians who sing and play not only the ukulele but also guitar, banjo, tuba and harmonica. They met at a Ukulele-Palooza in the Quad- Cities where many ukulele players jammed for a day. After being asked to play at a local church, they became serious about forming a group. Their first song together was “Wayfaring Stranger” followed by a gig at Resthave Home. Thus, the Ukulele Connections was born.

Members of the group are Aaron Johnson of Morrison, Paul Engwall of Lyndon, Ill., and Jim Roeder of Silvis, Ill. Aaron and Paul met while teaching in the Prophetstown-Lyndon district. Aaron was the instrumental teacher and Paul the vocal teacher. Jim Roeder was a headhunter for Snelling and Snelling in the Quad-Cities. All are retired now and have time to devote to a weekly three-hour-plus rehearsal.

Engwall is one of five brothers, all of whom play tuba and sing. Every summer they all return to Michigan to spend a month together singing and playing. Paul also plays guitar. Roeder has studied guitar over 17 years and has been the catalyst for this group bringing in pop and familiar music standards. Johnson plays tuba, baritone, bass, and the ukulele and was a member of the University of Illinois marching band.

“The original intention was to play just ukuleles until Aaron went to New York City and heard Matthew Broderick (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) singing and playing the ukulele in a Broadway show accompanied by the tuba, said Paul Engwall. “Our repertoire now includes the song, “Do, Do, Do,” from that Broadway show, with tuba accompaniment by Aaron,” stated Jim.

Aaron adds, “The focus of our music has changed from playing just the ukuleles to playing and singing entertaining music from familiar standards to current popular tunes.”