COMPILED BY AUDREY COLEMAN

Submission Information

Listings are free for ukulele events, though we may not have space to include every submission. Deadlines for the next four issues are:

  • Winter 2018 issue     August 1, 2018
  • Spring 2019 issue     October 1, 2018
  • Summer 2019  issue     February 1, 2019
  • Fall 2019 issue     May 1, 2019

To be included, email event name, date(s), and contact information to editors.uke@stringletter.com.


[Correction: This version corrects a mistake in the printed version. The accurate dates for the Great Minnesota Uke Gathering are October 26-27.]


PORT TOWNSEND UKULELE FESTIVAL
September 12–16, 2018 | Port Townsend, Washington
Strolling on the beach in view of a lighthouse and exploring the history of Fort Worden are just two activities that attract visitors to the State Park setting for this festival. But activities at the three-day event probably will supersede them. The array of morning and afternoon workshops, geared toward intermediate players, deal with both genres and techniques. There will be classes on jazz, blues, swing, Hawaiian, pop, novelty, and jug band ukulele. Technique classes include chords, melody, improvisation, playing up the neck, and performing tips. Leading these sessions are the legendary Del Rey, who put rags and other early-20th century genres on the ukulele map; Lil’ Rev, renowned for syncopated strumming techniques and roots-based picking styles; and ukulele couple Craig Chee and Sarah Maisel, whose instrumental and vocal styles are delightfully complementary. Also among the instructor-performers are innovative jazz and blues uker Abe Lagrimas, duo Aaron and Nicole Keim (aka the Quiet American), who perform traditional folk genres, and Jason Arimoto, composer of Hawaiian and world music-influenced instrumentals and vocals. Evenings will be devoted to jams, parties, and two concerts where faculty members strum their stuff. If registration is closed, email Peter McCracken at “peter at centrum.org” with “Uke Wait List” in the subject line. 

TUNES IN THE DUNES
September 21–23 2018  | Westwind, Oregon
Straddling the seasons with one bare foot burrowing into warm summer sands and the other wearing socks for fall, this uke event provides not only musical immersion but also immersion in nature. It starts with a rousing jam beside the Salmon River followed by a shallow slosh across it to the main event site. After that, participants enjoy a sing-along and genre-based jam sessions. The Friday evening concert showcases the faculty, which includes sparkling duo Craig Chee and Sarah Maisel, multi-instrumentalist and Hawaiian falsetto singer Steven Espaniola, and acclaimed soloist and accompanist Bryan Tolentino. Also on the roster are the illustrious Daniel Ward, whose playing style is inflected with classical and flamenco influences, Heidi Swedberg, especially known for tapping the power of the ukulele to bring people together, and other instructor-performers, including Kalei Gamiao, Andy Andrews, Debi Noel and Kerri Sage, and Milo Fultz. The program of workshops, sing-alongs and jams still will leave time for a hike, beach walk, and campfire. Finally, on Sunday afternoon ukers will sing their way down to the riverside and traipse back across the shallow Salmon River waters.  

LOS ANGELES INTERNATIONAL UKULELE FESTIVAL
September 22, 2018 | Torrance, California
It’s hard to believe that everything described here takes place in a single day. Once again, the venue is the Torrance Cultural Arts Center, with its learner-friendly meeting rooms and breezy outdoor plazas. The line-up: down-home folk duo Aaron and Nicole Keim, Hawaiian virtuoso Taimane Gardner, blues and jazz master Abe Lagrimas Jr., esteemed Bay Area uker Ukulenny, YouTube’s “The Ukulele Teacher” (aka John Atkins), singer-songwriter-teacher Cynthia Lin, and other uke luminaries. Performances will not conflict with workshops, some of which repeat, so you have more than one opportunity to catch a class. Vendor displays and audience strum-alongs are additional popular attractions.

PRAIRIE JAMBOREE UKULELE FESTIVAL
September 28–30, 2018 | Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Experience this prairie jewel in its fall splendor while reveling in all things ukulele. The event features workshops for every playing level, open mic sessions, jam circles, and a gala concert. Headliners Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer join fellow faculty members, singer-songwriter Kevin Carroll, founder of the edUKEcator group, David Remiger (aka Ukester Brown), and the duo of singer-songwriter-storyteller Kate Ferris and luthier-musician Fred Casey. The weekend concludes with the Hallelujah Hootenanny followed by Strum-N-Suds. 

ALBUQUERQUE UKEKOPELLI FESTIVAL
September 28–30, 2018 | Albuquerque, New Mexico
The 2018 Albuquerque Ukekopelli festival’s theme, “Comic Books & Super Heroes,” is designed to bring back memories of all those great tunes from cartoon and live action shows that you enjoyed as a child. Conjuring nostalgia as they teach ukulele skills, techniques, and styles are, first of all, Jim and Liz Beloff, who inspire and support ukers with their publications and other contributions. The other dynamic duo on the faculty is Fred Sokolow, author of many instructional books and DVDs on stringed instruments, and versatile bass player Lynn Sokolow. The third heavyweight performer-instructor is Gerald Ross, a master of multiple forms of roots music who has performed with Arlo Guthrie, Doc Watson, Brownie McGhee, and other music legends. 


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ROYAL CITY UKE FEST
September 29, 2018 | Royal City, Ontario, Canada
This time, that joyful ukulele vibe comes to an artsy Ontario town. The headliners are Sarah Maisel and Craig Chee, accompanied by Milo Fultz on bass. Among their fellow instructors are a couple of gifted hyphenates—musician-educator-festival organizer Ben Hassenger and music educator–multi-instrumentalist Cynthia Kinnunen. The event will feature “dynamic workshops and big rockin’ group strums,” wrapping up with a concert starring Sara and Craig.

MAUI UKULELE FESTIVAL
September 30, 2018 | Kahului, Maui, Hawaii
A partner to the huge ukulele festival held in Honolulu in July, the Maui Ukulele Festival, held at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center in Kahului, is now in its 13th year. Expect some of the islands’ biggest ukulele players to perform. Visit the website for the latest list of scheduled performers and events. 

FUNKY FRETS UKE FEST
October 5–7, 2018 | Boyertown, Pennsylvania
At this event, intense musical activity takes place in an atmosphere of rollicking good fun. Concerts, open mics, workshops, vendor displays, a Hawaiian shirt contest, and a musical train ride have been popular Funky Frets fare over the festival’s four-year history. The 2018 Funky Frets faculty includes celebrated interpreter of Hawaiian melodies Herb Ohta Jr., jazz ukulele specialist Curt Sheller, singer-songwriter-multi-instrumentalist Fred McNaughton, and the amazing Del Rey, arranger-performer of rags, blues, and other early 20th century genres. Also among the teacher-performers is the island-born trio Aloha Boys, who play backyard-style Hawaiian music. Sunday’s highlight is the Strum-along Train Ride on the Colebrookdale Historical Train. Participants can download, in advance, the songbook to be used on the ride. A picnic and final jam will round out the weekend. 

UKETOBERFEST
October 6, 2018 | Interlochen, Michigan
For the fourth year, the forested Northern Michigan campus of the Interlochen Center for the Arts will become the setting for a Saturday dedicated to Mighty Uke. It will feature workshops, concert, open mic, and strumming topped off by an after-hours pizza and jam at the Karlin Inn. The teaching staff includes roots music luminary Lil’ Rev, renowned Canadian music educator Cynthia Kinnunen, and performer-event organizer Ben Hassenger, who teaches in Michigan public schools and at the Interlochen Center for the Arts. Also performing are special guests The Ukulele Kings

STRUMMIN’ MAN UKULELE FESTIVAL
October 12–14, 2018 | Panama City, Florida
For its second iteration of the Strummin’ Man, the local ukulele group, St. Andrews Ukes assembled Gerald Ross, Heidi Swedberg, Taimane, and “The Ukulele Teacher” (known as John Atkins to his mother and father), for a series of workshops and concerts. One-day, weekend visitor, and All Access passes are available for the event’s music vendors, silent auctions, open mics, and music-making.

UKULELES AT THE WINERY
October 12–14, 2018 | Glen Aplin Queensland, Australia
Mountview Wines is located in the region that produces Australia’s cherished “Bloody Good Red.” Twice a year—in March and October—the winery hosts a weekend gathering of the ukulele group known as The Graniteers, an event open to all acoustic stringed instrument players in the area. Sing-alongs, open mic sessions, and free workshops create a fun (and wine)-filled weekend. 

HAWAII ISLAND UKULELE RETREAT
October 14–20, 2018  | Hawi, Hawaii
The former plantation town of Hawi is a short, bumpy ride down to the gorgeous Waipio Valley, a safe distance from ever-erupting Mount Kilauea, and, this fall, the site of a Hawaiian learning holiday for ukers. Players will work on technique and style with help from the 2018 performer-instructors, including Brad Bordessa, author of Ukulele Chord Shapes and a popular instructor; musician and dancer Robyn Kneubuhl; Kaliko Beamer Trapp, trip leader, who teaches beginner ukulele and a workshop on rhythm using traditional Hawaiian percussion instruments, plus story-telling; lap-steel guitar lessons with KonaBob Stoffer; and Elaine de Man (organizer of West Coast Ukulele Retreat, Camp Oo-Koo-Lay-Lay, and others). The program also provides time for participants to swim and snorkel, ride horses in rustic Waimea, explore farmers’ markets, hike to lush waterfalls, and share music in the convivial atmosphere of Hawaiian kani ka pila. 

THE GREAT MINNESOTA UKE GATHERING
October 26-27, 2018 | Plymouth, Minnesota
Call it an event-within-an-event or perhaps a musical two-for-one deal. Either way, attending the two-day Great Minnesota Uke Gathering provides access to the larger three-day Fall Bluegrass Festival, both bringing a whirlwind of activity to the Crowne Plaza Minneapolis West in Plymouth, Minnesota. The jam features regional bands performing bluegrass, old-time string band, and related acoustic genres. For the uke event, instructor-ukers include consummate roots-music interpreter Lil’ Rev, who will perform, teach, and lead one of his high-powered jam sessions; and blues and ragtime master Del Rey.

UKETOBERFEST #2
October 26–28 2018  | Springfield, Oregon
Far, far west of the forested site of Uketoberfest #1, Interlochen, we find Uketoberfest #2 in Oregon. Taking place in a park alongside the Willamette River, the weekend event will serve up workshops led by acclaimed performers including ukulele pizzazz master Gerald Ross, swing strummer Casey MacGill, Hawaiian-style specialist Maggie Matoba, composer-songwriter Suzannah Doyle, musical variety performer Mitch Hider, multi-genre master Neal Chin, folk-jazz duo Victor and Penny, and festival favorites Keith Blackwell and Brook Adams. Joining them are outstanding music educators Debi Noel, Kerri Sage, and Buck Mueller. All levels of players are welcome. 

TAMPA BAY UKULELE GETAWAY
November 2–4, 2018 | Tampa, Florida
Well-planned workshops, enjoyable jams, open mics and an inspiring Saturday evening concert promise to make this year’s TBUG as inspiring as ever. Sirata Resort provides the event venue along with accommodations steps away from the sparkling sands. Heading the teacher-performer roster are Jim and Liz Beloff, pioneering nurturers of the American ukulele community through their publications, website, and so much more. Among their colleagues on the faculty are Mim, a high-energy musical performer of everything from oldies to rap; Rachel Manke, a long-time ukulele performer with a penchant for Tin Pan Alley songs; Matthew Kirkland, whose playing recalls down-home fiddle music and other sounds from his rural Georgia childhood; musician and master hula dancer Mapuana Ebbitt, super-versatile uker Ty Olopai; and singer-songwriter-ukulady Ari Chi. Books and handouts for the workshops will be available for downloading closer to the event. 

LEARNING (UKULELE) ON VACATION
Session 1: November 5–12, 2018 | Session 2: November 12–19, 2018 | Melaque, Mexico
Learning ukulele on the Mexican Riviera might seem to be lightweight fare. Not so. Each week-long program provides two-hour skill-building workshops on four days plus evening jams and open mics reinforce these skills in a nonthreatening atmosphere. Students are then ready to test their musical mettle in open mic performances at local bars and restaurants. In addition, participants practice tirelessly for the final concert showcasing their group and solo pieces. For a change of pace, the program builds in activities such as a boat trip and meals at local restaurants. (Students can expect a post-activity quiz upon their return.) Directing the rigorous program are David Olson, the driving force behind Toronto’s Storefront Ukulele Sessions and semi-annual Ukulele Wang Dang Doodle, and Ben Hassenger, who teaches at the Interlochen School for the Arts and other institutions. Olson is in charge of Session One, “Ukulele Party Week,” while Hassenger is at the helm of Session Two, “A Mexican Ukulele Holiday.” Their high expectations for student performance are tempered with sensitivity to individual needs. For example, to counteract stress reactions, they may encourage activities such as relaxing at the beach, strolling in town, hiking, biking, horseback riding, or, for cases of exhaustion, lying in a hammock. 

NEW UKE CULINARY FIESTA
November 7–11, 2018 | Santa Fe, New Mexico
“Red or green?” Ukulele players, do you know what’s being asked? You’ll find the answer during a weekend in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with Heidi Swedberg and Daniel Ward. Also virtuosos in the art of Southwestern cuisine, these two acclaimed ukulele instructor-performers have the recipe for bringing musical and culinary palettes into harmony. Although participants will be playing ukulele, cooking, and eating for most of their stay, Swedberg  and Ward will carve out time for exploring the magical landscape in their corner of the Land of Enchantment. 

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