Conrad Shiba has been playing folk music for more than 40 years, after picking up his first stringed instrument sometime before the age of 14: a ukulele.
“I taught myself to play a ukulele when my uncle left his with me after he moved away,” Shiba says.
He recognized the small instrument was much like the four-stringed tenor guitar he’d watched folk singers play; the ukulele looked like a smaller version of it to him.
Wednesday, Shiba will be the Community Arts Center’s featured presenter for Lunch with the Arts. He will sing and accompany himself on the ukulele, guitar, banjo, and mountain and hammered dulcimers, as well as speak about the history and development of the banjo and two types of dulcimers
“Folk music attracted me because it is do-it-yourself music,” Shiba says. He says when he saw folk artists in the 1960s, they played their own guitars, banjos or other instruments.
“…while pop singers sang with bands or orchestras.”
Shiba says it seemed to him anyone should be able to play this music without extensive music training.
“Also, many of the songs tell stories that are drawn from real-life situations; they seemed more meaningful than pop music,” he says.
People may walk away with many different things after Wednesday’s presentation, Shiba says.
“Some come merely to hear, enjoy the music. Others might come to learn something about the background of the music and instruments.”
He says the mountain and hammered dulcimers always seem to create a lot of curiosity and questions from folks.
“I do like to tell them that folk music is music that anyone can do, since it originated with people singing in their homes and places of work,” Shiba says. “If they are interested in beginning an instrument, I can make suggestions for them on how to begin.”
IF YOU GO
Lunch with the Arts Featuring Conrad Shiba with folk music
Noon-1 p.m. Wednesday at the Community Arts Center
For lunch, register by 6 p.m. Monday online or by calling (859) 236-4054.