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One chord at a time; Messersmith plays Saturday at the Sheldon

The Minneapolis-based singer-songwriter Jeremy Messersmith stopped at Pier 55 Thursday, May 9 to lead a workshop on learning to play the ukulele. Messersmith played a few songs for those gathered before teaching them chords. Photo by Rachel Fergus/RiverTown Multimedia.

Twelve ukuleles sang in unison during Jeremy Messersmith's workshop at Pier 55. The Minneapolis-based musician held workshops around Red Wing during the week of May 6 leading up to his concert at the Sheldon on Saturday, May 11.

The Pier 55 workshop was meant to introduce people to the ukulele. Messersmith also told the group that they would know at least three chords by the end of the hour: C, G and F, all frequently used chords in his 2017 book "Obscenely Optimistic: Songs for Ukulele." Messersmith pivoted between playing songs for those gathered and teaching them how to play the instrument.

After performing "Honeybee" from the book, he walked those in the room through how to play C and C6 chords; the only notes played on the instrument for the entire song.

Messersmith is a guitarist but while on a beach in Mexico he picked up the ukulele and began experimenting. Now he plays the ukulele in shows and recordings.

Some who attended the event brought ukuleles but many borrowed one of the instruments Messersmith provided. When his mini-tour around Red Wing is completed this weekend, he said he plans to donate the instruments used in the workshops to the Red Wing Public Library.

Before everyone packed instruments back into cases and left, Pier 55 presented Messersmith with a tie blanket with cat patterns as a thanks for the workshop and an apology that he could not take cats with him on tour. The ukulele book was, according to Messersmith, written by him and kittens. This maybe explains why the first song in "Obscenely Optimistic" is titled "Everybody Gets a Kitten."

For more information about Messersmith. Visit www.jeremymessersmith.com.