A ukulele performer since 1961, Scanlan returned the ukulele to its ancestral home of Madeira Island, Portugal in 1998 in the historic Father and Son Reunion, a project that reunited the ukulele with the rajão and braguinha and united Madeiran and American players in performance, including a live telecast from the Lisbon World's Fair. For the past 17 years Scanlan has been teaching a weekly ukulele class that doubles as a performance group that performs at least once a week at fairs, schools, hospitals, retirement and convalescent homes. The group, the Strum Bums, received a standing ovation at the second annual New York Ukulele Festival. They performed at the Santa Cruz CA Ukulele Festival, and twice at the Honolulu International Ukulele Festival.
Before he started the Strum Bums, Scanlan led the Vokuleles ukulele group in Chico CA, for the last seven of its 37 years. .
Scanlan's ukulele workshops and performances have been highly acclaimed at festivals at the Ukulele Hall of Fame Museum, Santa Cruz, Southern California, Tahoe Area, New York, Auburn CA, and the Liverpool, Nova Scotia, International Ukulele Ceilidh, where he serves as emcee. In 2008 he gave the initial ukulele workhop in Dublin, Ireland, to a group that became Ukuhooley, Ireland's largest ukulele group and presenter of the annual Ukuhooley Ukulele Festival.
Scanlan's ukulele has supported the efforts of Cindy Sheehan, Julia Butterfly Hill, U. Utah Phillips, Judi Bari, Daniel Ellsberg and other peace and justice activists. He and his ukulele have fronted several bands, including Flathead, the Self-Righteous Brothers, Jukolin, Top Quark, and Cool Hand Uke and the Enablers.
In 2017 Simon and Schuster publishing asked Scanlan to write How to Play Ukulele after checking out this course. The book was released on June 2018 and is a good companion to this course.
"Dan Scanlan has more talent in his little finger than he has in the wholoe rest of his body." — Utah Phillips