Ukelele Wednesdays

Hawie Veniegas, a photography senior, plays along with Paola Lopez, a Digital Arts freshman during Ukulele Wednesdays. Photo by Jesus Trujillo.

A new club has started this semester at Santa Fe University of Art and Design. Lead by Creative Writing senior Charlotte Renken, the Ukulele Club has gotten off to a good start.

Meeting in Benildus at 7 p.m., Wednesday nights, the club is known as Ukulele Wednesdays, inspired by the London pub gatherings, says Renken, who was in Britain last summer studying abroad. “I was walking around in Coven Gardens, and it was super hot outside, but most places in London don’t have A/C so I was trying to find anywhere with air conditioning and sort of freaking out. Then I stumbled across this sign for Ukulele Wednesdays down this dark alley to a pub’s basement. It was ridiculous but really cool; I stayed until like 1 a.m,” Renken recalls.

Creative Writing senior Charlotte Renken leads the Ukulele Club in song, as Hawie Veniegas, a Photography senior, follows along with Judy Ripley, a Creative Writing sophomore. Photo by Jesus Trujillo.

For the purposes of the club, musically inclined students of all disciplines and uke-savviness can meet to casually jam together. The club attracts roughly four regular members, though numbers fluctuate each week. At this past March 1 meeting, players included digital arts student Paola Lopez, creative writer Judy Ripley and photography major Hawie Veniegas. Renken came in with a big black bin full of ukes: a couple of her own, a tenor and a turquoise soprano signed by the band Not Literally, and then several sopranos provided by Campus Life Coordinator Malcom Morgan, so there were plenty of instruments for everyone. Lopez also brought her own uke, but switched between it and one of the provided ones; Ripley, who hadn’t played in years, picked it back up swiftly; even Jackalope photographer Jesus Trujillo plucked along at the beginning of the club meeting.

After retuning all the ukes, Renken also set up her laptop to the room’s projector so that attendees could follow chords and lyrics together, along with printed packets of the UK Ukulele Wednesdays’ songbook. Both Renken and attendees proposed songs to learn and play. “Help” by Pink Guy, “Stay Stay Stay” by Taylor Swift and “Complicated” by Avril Lavigne all featured at their meeting last week.

Creative Writing Senior Charlotte Renken takes a song request from the group.

So far the club’s been a mix of teaching students how to use the ukulele, and just playing and singing and vibing together. Renken’s goal is to eventually have an hour-long Open Mic slash jam session slash play-along, though right now is focused on the basics and getting attendees all on the same page.


Ukulele Club meets on Wednesdays from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in Benildus 102. Students can stay updated on Ukulele Club via its Facebook Group page