A few days ago, I received an email from Stan Ketcik of the Ukulele Moonshiners that read, “Have a great St. Pat’s week! Here is a song that I wrote that the band recorded. I hope it puts a smile on your face.”
I love the band’s music, so I clicked on the link to “Blame it on the Irish in Me.”
It was such a fun song, with a vibe that reminded me of The Irish Rovers. As of Friday morning, the music video had 1,300 views even though this lone music video on the “Stan the Aloha Man” YouTube page was uploaded just five days before.
The song did bring a smile – a wide smile – to my face. So why not share the song and the smiles with Herald-News readers?
I replied to Ketcik of Minooka, and we talked Friday morning. He was surprised I called. He said he wasn’t looking for a story. He said he just wanted to share the song and said, “I think you have a little bit of Irish in your heart somewhere.”
Ketcik said his mother’s side of the family is “completely Irish.” And he said whenever his uncle would prank someone or make someone laugh, his aunt would say, ‘Oh, you can blame it on the Irish in him.”
[ Ukulele Moonshiners will play before White Sox game on Saturday ]
The phrase stuck with Ketcik, who loves his Irish heritage. One day he decided to write a “fun song,” and the words flowed out. The result, however, is a group effort.
Ketcik plays ukulele and didgeridoo for the Ukulele Moonshiners.
He said Ed Kocjan of Channahon (bass and mandolin) did all the musical arrangements, Ron Alberico of Lockport (ukulele, bongos, steel drum and slide guitar) did all the percussions and harmony, Denis Kramer of Batavia (ukulele and kazoo) “put together the great solos in here with the banjo,” and Ketcik’s wife, Jo Ann, created the music video.
“She’d started messing around with Adobe Premiere and was having a good time with that,” Ketcik said. “I was shocked when I saw what she put together.”
Ketcik said that wherever the Ukulele Moonshiners perform, from small senior facilities to big festivals and for the White Sox’s Margaritaville Day, the goal is to put smiles on people’s faces.
“When you play the ukulele, you can’t help but smile,” Ketcik said.
Ketcik recalled playing a Christmas show at an area nursing home and then gathering around the bed of a paralyzed man to play a few songs. Although the man couldn’t speak, he was able to mouth the words, tears streaming down his face, Ketcik said.
“That’s why people should do music – to lift up someone’s day,” Ketcik said. “That’s what it’s really all about.”
Ketcik said the Ukulele Moonshiners open their shows by asking people to turn to the person on their left and the person on their right and say, “I love you.” The band hopes the celebration at each show carries into a daily celebration of life, he said.
“We have so much division these days. We need more time to smile.”— Stan Ketcik, member of the Ukulele Moonshiners
Before Ketcik hung up the phone – the Ukulele Moonshiners were performing in Lisle that day – he said he had “something else to say,” and then quoted the song’s chorus.
“Hail, hail, lift up your glass. Drink to the future, regrets in the past,” Ketcik said. “We have so much division these days. We need more time to smile.”
For more information and upcoming performances, visit ukulelemoonshiners.com.
Denise M. Baran-Unland is the features editor at The Herald-News. Contact her at 815-280-4122 or firstname.lastname@example.org.