Meet ‘The Shenanigans’: Not Your Average Ukulele Band

By Stephanie Powell

Earlier this month, the Atlantic‘s weekly Friendship Files column featured a quartet of women who channel the spirit of the ukulele on a regular basis. Fate led them each to an Illinois-based, 20-piece strumalong group the Hummers and Strummers, and eventually the foursome broke off to form The Shenanigans, made up of Cyndi Buckles, 75, Dianne Rogal, 72, Linda Trytek, 66, and Carol Wiemer, 77.

What started as gigs with the Hummers and Strummers at senior residences, the Shenanigans eventually went on to perform for a dear friend at an adult facility for people with memory problems. This gig turned into a monthly routine and the band was in demand.


“When I walked in, everybody was smiling and happy. They handed me a uke, gave me some lessons, and I practiced and fell in love with the ukulele. And the four of us just kind of glued together. Our friendship blossomed, and the four of us now go out and do a lot of little gigs. We are now the Shenanigans, starting with she. You get it, right?”

—Carol Wiemer says of the Hummers and Strummers

The women, who perform 1920s classics in bright, vibrant colors, want to make one thing very clear: “I think our society wants older women to sit down, shut up, and go knit somewhere in a corner. And that’s not what we’re doing. We’re using our voices. We’re not dying with our songs unsung,” Trytek says. The band’s go-to repertoire includes: “When You’re Smiling,” “Ain’t She Sweet,” “Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue,” and “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend.” They also have a fair share of original tunes, too.

To read the full interview, click here. And let us know, what’s the most meaningful gig you’ve ever had?