Compiled by Audrey Coleman & Greg Olwell

Submission Info Have an event coming up?  Please contact us with information about artists and workshops, plus dates, location, and how people can find out more information: editors.uke@stringletter.com

ALABAMA UKE FEST

September 9, 2017 | Guntersville, Alabama
This outdoor gathering at the Riverview Campground is an easygoing blend of learning and fellowship. During the 90-minute morning and afternoon beginner sessions, more experienced ukers will gather in small groups to share music and gear and to jam informally. Open-mic sessions are scheduled for the lunch break and later afternoon. The Fest concludes with a strum/sing-along for the entire group and performances by local ukulele clubs. To enhance learning and participation, the organizers have prepared downloadable music sheets and other handouts for attendees to bring to the event along with their instruments. Participants should also bring their own chairs, rain gear, and food and drink. Restaurants and groceries are available near the campground.

UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN

September 9–16, 2017 | Tuscany, Italy
In case you hadn’t noticed this item last summer, here are the essentials. You will diligently work on your ukulele skills under the peerless tutelage of Peter Moss and Francesco Albertazzi while housed in an Italian villa and feasting on regional cuisine. The instructors will hold workshops in the morning and lead jams later in the day. You will attend evening concerts in the area. Your Italian idyll will include excursions to Siena, Monterrigioni, San Gimignano, and other gems of the Tuscany region. Also on the program are opportunities to visit a local thermal spa and classes on Italian cuisine. Contact Flying Olive Adventures at LBColosimo@aol.com

DOCK STREET UKE CAMP

September 15–17, 2017 | Shelburne, Nova Scotia, Canada
Here is a chance to marvel at eastern Canada’s fall colors while improving your playing chops with a dynamic trio of instructor-performers. Surf guitarist and self-declared “King of the Surf Ukulele” Mike Daibo, aka Rev Hank of the Urban Surf Kings, not only teaches chording techniques, jazz, and swing, but he also offers Ukulele on the Beach 1 and 2. Nigel D’Eon is known throughout Nova Scotia for his uke playing with the popular Bocephus Blue and the Tragic Love Song Band. He also performs classic and pop cover songs on his own YouTube channel and hosts open mic nights at the SeaDog Saloon in Shelburne. Manitoba Hal Brolund, acclaimed for his blues stylings on the uke, is a festival favorite across North America.

TUNES IN THE DUNES

September 15–17, 2017 | Westwind, Oregon
Returning to the beautiful Oregon coast for its seventh year, Tunes in the Dunes corrals some of the finest ukulele teachers and performers anywhere for a few days of ukulele-intensive fun and instruction. Attendees can stay in cabins set among trees, choose a tent in the dunes, or camp in a pine forest. The schedule is still being finalized, but expect to have workshops and performances by Aaron and Nicole Keim, James Hill and Anne Janelle, Bryan Holley, Andy Andrews, Steven Espaniola, and Jim D’Ville.

ROYAL CITY UKE FEST

September 30, 2017 | Guelph, Ontario, Canada
The town of Guelph is an easy 56-mile (90 kilometer) drive from Toronto and the site of the first Royal City Uke Fest. To be held in majestic Dublin Street United Church, the event features Canada’s own James Hill and gifted classical cellist Anne Janelle as star teacher-performers. The rest of the faculty measure up nicely. Songwriter-percussionist-uker Christa Mercey studied music in Canada and West Africa and recently completed a three-year tour with Cirque Du Soleil’s KURIOS. Her brother Mike Mercey teaches guitar, bass, ukulele, and percussion in the Guelph area and produces and engineers music albums. Vocalist-instrumentalist Heather Katz, who teaches voice, guitar, and ukulele, has performed with B.B. King, James Brown, and Long John Baldry. Folk musician–educator Ben Hassenger teaches at the Interlochen Center for the Arts and Michigan State University’s Community Music School. Cheryl Reid, percussionist/drummer and ukulele teacher-performer, teaches uke to children in Toronto schools and has taught at James Hill Ukulele Institute. The Royal City Uke Fest’s evening concert will feature Hill and Janelle playing both solo and as a duo.

PORT TOWNSEND UKULELE FESTIVAL AND WORKSHOP

September 27–October 1, 2017 | Port Townsend, Washington
Taking place in picturesque Fort Worden State Park, this event gives 135 attendees opportunities to learn from a uke festival who’s who, including Del Rey, Gerald Ross, Eva Goldberg, and Jason Arimoto; performer-instructor couples Heidi Swedberg and Daniel Ward, Craig Chee and Sarah Maisel, and Aaron and Nicole Keim; twin-brother masters of the banjo-uke Jere and Greg Canote; and performer-educator Kevin Carroll. The four daily workshops on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday will take inspiration from genres as diverse as Hawaiian and jug-band ukulele playing. Technical instruction will cover chords, melody, improvisation, playing up the neck, and performing tips. Participants will apply their skills in relaxing instructor-led jam sessions. Public concerts at nearby Wheeler Theater on Friday and Saturday evenings will feature the performer-instructors. Workshop registration includes admission. 

Workshops 101: Get the Most out of a Ukulele Workshop

UKEKOPELLI

September 29–October 1, 2017 | Albuquerque, New Mexico
Trade your downhome blue jeans for your… well, dressier jeans because this year’s theme for Ukekopelli is Ukulele Supper Club. The Friday evening kick-off concert will make attendees feel like they are part of a live 1949 variety show television audience. The cast of entertainers includes Ralph Shaw from England, Gracie Terzian from New York, Mark Baker from Phoenix, and Dani Joy from California. These performers and several other artist-educators will lead 28 workshops for all skill levels on Saturday and Sunday. New this year will be six sequential workshops on music theory and songwriting. Sunday morning will feature the Gospel According to Uke jam along with inspirational thoughts. The venue for this event will be Albuquerque’s African American Performing Arts Center.

LOS ANGELES INTERNATIONAL UKULELE FESTIVAL

September 30, 2017 | Torrance, California
In its third year, this festival packs oodles of learning opportunities, plus lots of fun, into nine hours. YouTube instructor Cynthia Lin will give classes on uke basics and on vocal technique. Another YouTube favorite, The Ukulele Teacher, will do a workshop on playing pop songs. Lil’ Rev, who teaches everything from Irish songs to jug-band styles for uke, will lead sessions on triplets and on beginnings and endings. Veteran music educator Fred Sokolow will focus on blues for ukulele. Ukulenny will introduce reggae playing for the uke while Ali Lexa, host of Ukulele Spotlight on radio station KPFK, will teach bossa nova pieces for uke. Kalei Gamiao will deal with scales and the fretboard. Jody Kamisato, founder of the Honolulu-area studio Ukulele Hale, will teach strum patterns. Victoria Vox will teach chord melodies and left-hand movement. The popular Japanese ukulele-and-guitar duo Fulare Pad will lead a ukulele beginners’ workshop in Japanese. Festival founder Mitch Chang will lead sessions on beginners’ basics and on building chord progressions. Most of the workshop leaders will perform on the outdoor stage. 

FUNKY FRETS UKE FEST 2017

October 6–8, 2017 | Boyertown, Pennsylvania
What’s in a name? This feisty festival is brimming with quality musical ingredients. The Saturday concert features uke luminaries James Hill and Lil’ Rev, as well as The Aloha Boys, a trio that has performed traditional and contemporary Hawaiian music at Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, and music festivals nationwide. Teaching Saturday and Sunday workshops are Funky Frets’ own Curt Sheller, author of over 30 books for ukulele and creator of LearningUkulele.com; Uncle Zac; Frets Halligan; and Hawaiian musician-educator Glen Hirabayashi, who will offer his Introduction to Hawaiian music. Unique to Funky Frets is the Strum-along Train Ride on the historic Colebrookdale Railroad, complete with a customized songbook prepared to maximize the musical benefits.

SAN FRANCISCO UKE-TOBER FEST

October 7–8, 2017 | San Francisco, CA
Bring your heart and your uke to San Francisco for the first SF Uke-tober Fest. Hosted by SF Uke Jam leaders Cynthia Lin and Ukulenny, this two-day event features uke sweethearts Craig Chee and Sarah Maisel, Ukulele Underground’s Aldrine Guerrero and Aaron Nakamura, and jazz ukulele and percussion master Abe Lagrimas Jr. Activities include an all-star jam on Saturday (play with the pros!), Sunday workshops, and a Sunday evening concert.

12th ANNUAL MAUI UKULELE FESTIVAL

October 15, 2017 | Kahului, Maui
This gathering is not so much for honing your uke skills as for opening your ears to some of Hawaii’s most gifted ukulele players. In the event’s relaxed atmosphere, local audiences typically bring lawn chairs or roll-out blankets to enjoy the performances on the campus of the Maui Arts & Cultural Center. The Center will also be the venue for a multi-level uke workshop on Saturday, October 14 from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m.

HAWAII ISLAND UKULELE RETREAT

October 15–21, 2017 | Hawi, Hawaii Island
On the northernmost corner of Hawaii’s Big Island is the historic plantation town of Hawi, where small galleries, shops, cafes, and restaurants now cluster. Also located there is the Kohala Village Inn, where, for one week in October, participants in the Hawaii Island Ukulele Retreat will be attending three workshops a day led by ukulele player-instructors, enjoying evening jam sessions, and preparing in small groups for their performance at the Retreat’s final concert. The Inn is part of a larger complex known as the Village Hub, with ongoing classes in Hawaiian arts and crafts, dance, music, and yoga, so there are plenty of activities for attendees’ companions and for participants desiring a change of pace. Snorkelers need only take a short drive down the Kohala Coast to find crystal waters teeming with brilliantly-colored tropical fish. Other available recreational activities are beach barbecues and forays into Hawi for dining and shopping. 

TAMPA BAY UKULELE GETAWAY

November 3–5, 2017 | St. Petersburg, Florida
This year’s Getaway takes place at the Sirata Beach Resort at St. Petersburg Beach. Between attending workshops and perusing music-vendor exhibits, attendees will be able to enjoy stunning water views from their rooms, the resort’s three swimming pools, three signature restaurants, and fitness center, and, of course, the beach. The instructors include favorites Del Rey, Fred Sokolow, Aaron Keim, and Kyle Biss. “Irrepressible Bermudian” Mike Hind, who recently toured the country with his band the Flea Bitten Dawgs, will host open mics and perform during the event. The Getaway kicks off Friday with a jam session and open mic at 6:30 p.m. The next day, instructors will lead four workshops in the morning and four in the afternoon. The evening concert features Mike Hind, Aaron Keim, Kyle Biss & The Applebutter Express, Fred Sokolow, and Del Rey. On Sunday afternoon a Hawaiian buffet with music by Ty & Mapuana and TJ Weger will conclude the event.

THE GREAT MINNESOTA UKE GATHERING

November 17–18, 2017 | Minneapolis, Minnesota
GMUG takes place within a larger music event, the Harvest Jam, a three-day indoor music festival featuring regional bands performing bluegrass, old-time string band, and related forms of acoustic music. Minnesota-based jazz/swing specialist Mike Cramer will teach a class for beginners and a workshop that will deal with moveable chords. The Friday evening concert will feature Lil’ Rev, who will also lead three workshops on Saturday. The Saturday concert will showcase the award-winning U Can Jug or Nots jug band. Open mics are scheduled for both Friday and Saturday and members of the Twin Cities Ukulele Club will lead jams appropriate for all levels using the Daily Ukulele: 365 Songs for Better Living by Liz and Jim Beloff, also known as “The Yellow Book.” In addition to workshops, open mics, jams, and concerts, attendees will be able to visit exhibits by music and craft vendors throughout the event. It all takes place at the Minneapolis West Marriott Hotel.

Find Your Ideal Ukulele Event with Help from Top Uke Fest Visionaries

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