The Dancing Fleas will kick off SCCA’s 74th season Saturday

Published 5:20 am Friday, September 23, 2022

To kickoff the 74th season of the Stanly County Concert Association, a North Carolina-based ukulele party band will have people dancing and singing to a variety of songs spanning multiple genres when it comes to town Saturday at the Stanly County Agri-Civic Center.

The ukulele is commonly associated with music from Hawaii, where its name roughly translates as “jumping flea.”

Originally of Portuguese origin, when Hawaiian natives saw Europeans playing the small instruments, they noticed their fingers were moving so fast across the strings that it reminded them of dancing fleas, said Jeff Hamilton, an Albemarle native and member of the band.

When he and his family moved to Shelby about a decade ago, his wife, Laura Wheeler, became part of a local ukulele club that would routinely meet at a local music store. She eventually convinced Hamilton, who had little musical experience, to start playing the instrument.

He found the ukulele was fairly easy to learn.

“Four strings, four fingers, that’s the perfect combination,” he said.

The club eventually turned into the band and Hamilton was invited to join around 2015. About two years later, he said, The Fleas began booking gigs and really took off. Along with Hamilton and Wheeler, their son Silas also is a member.

This will be the band’s second time performing in Stanly County. Last year, The Fleas performed as part of the¬†International Play Music on the Porch Day on the front porch of the historic Isaiah Snuggs House.

“Our mission as a band is to have fun playing good music well,” Hamilton said.

The band is known for its range of styles from classic country to sassy funky. It has original music, including “The Fleas are Here,” “Mr. Frog and Mr. Toad,” “Rearview Mirror” and “Prayer for Saluda Grade,” which Hamilton wrote, but the band also puts its spin on songs such as “Sail On” by the Commodores and “So Into You” by the Atlanta Rhythm Section.

Hamilton said as a tribute, the band will also perform songs from the country and bluegrass singers Don Gibson and Earl Scruggs, who both hailed from Cleveland County.

“There’s a rich musical heritage from that area that we try to tap into and are glad to be part of,” Hamilton said.

The band also enjoys showing audiences that the ukulele has more depth and range than most people realize.

“We try to get people to see that the ukulele is more than just a little Hawaiian string instrument,” he said. “People that come to the show will see you can do a lot of good stuff with ukuleles.”

Aside from Hamilton, Wheeler and Silas, other members are Jason Lineberger, Galaxy Lineberger, Perry Anthony, Stan Anthony, Laurie Horsley and Chris Pike.

The concert, which starts at 7:30 p.m., will last about an hour and 45 minutes.

Tickets, which cost $20 for adults and $10 for students, can be purchased on SCCA’s website and are available in advance at the Agri-Civic Center or Starnes Bramlett Jewelers.

The other featured performers for this season include Christmas With The Celts at 3 p.m. Dec. 11, The Rowan Big Band at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 18, 2023, Blackwater Band at 7:30 p.m. March 25, 2023, and Lonesome River Band at 3 p.m. April 16, 2023.

About Chris Miller

Chris Miller has been with the SNAP since January 2019. He is a graduate of NC State and received his Master's in Journalism from the University of Maryland. He previously wrote for the Capital News Service in Annapolis, where many of his stories on immigration and culture were published in national papers via the AP wire.

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