COMPILED BY AUDREY COLEMAN
December 2017–March 2018
Wouldn’t it be loverly to usher in the jolly holiday season by enjoying a performance of this all-singing, all-strumming ensemble, with its repertoire that ranges from the respectable to the tongue-in-cheek? And once the decorations have disappeared, what better way to banish the post-holiday blahs? If you plan to be in the UK or Germany between December and March, check out the dates and locations.
Ukers on the other side of the Atlantic, have patience. In April 2018, the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain will play 12 concerts in the US.
December 3 Bath, England Theatre Royal Bath (Featuring Christmas Play-Along)
December 7 Birmingham, England Symphony Hall (Featuring Christmas Play-Along)
December 9 Poole, England Lighthouse (Featuring Christmas Play-Along)
December 13 Ahaus, Germany Stadthalle im Kulturquadrat
December 15–16 Ludwigshafen, Germany BASF Feierabendhaus
December 17 Helmbrechts, Germany Göbel-Halle
February 9 Dortmund, Germany Konzerthaus
February 11 Coblenz, Germany Rhein-Mosel-Halle
February 12 Munich, Germany Prinzregententheater
March 22 Bremen, Germany Die Glocke
March 24 Münster, Germany Hörsaal H1 der Universität
January 26–28, 2018 | Nashville, Indiana
The Brown County Inn is the venue for this uke festival located in the other Nashville. Heading the lineup is Lil’ Rev, multi-instrumentalist and master of old-time string band music, pre-war blues, and American folk classics. Joining him as performers in Friday and Saturday evening concerts are Chicago-based Barrett Hasselwood, fresh from four years in Maui serenading at restaurants, hotels, and beachfront yoga classes; ascending roots music vocalist Emi Sunshine with her band The Rain; and the inimitable Flea Bitten Dawgs. Workshops will include level-specific instruction: “Petey Mac” McCarty will teach beginner classes and Barrett Hasselwood, intermediate. Lil’ Rev will lead a multi-level session titled “Improving Your Performance.” Strumalongs, jamming, and open-mic sessions fill out the festival program.
February 2–5, 2018 | Lauder, Central Otago, New Zealand
What are you doing for Waitangi Weekend? If you’re a Kiwi living in Central Otego and love playing ukulele, chances are you’ll want to attend the festival happening at the Lauder Hotel. A welcome jam kicks it off on Friday evening. After workshops on Saturday morning and afternoon, everyone gathers for a late afternoon “Big Sing.” Following dinner, they participate in the “Blackboard Jam.” Nightbirds then move on to the rousing “Pub Jam.” A morning workshop and afternoon concert are scheduled for Sunday. The activity planned for Monday morning is titled “Recovery Jam (With Bloody Marys if needed).”
February 9–11, 2018 | Katoomba NSW, Australia
Over 100 performances on nine stages attract thousands to what Aussies call the largest ukulele festival in the world, now in its ninth year. Apart from the chance to see the cream of ukulele players from Down Under and beyond, ukers can attend workshops on Saturday and participate in jam sessions on Sunday. All activities are free to the public except for the opening Friday night dinner and show at the Carrington Hotel.
February 2018 | Lancaster, Pennsylvania
In 2015, ukulele players from three clubs in southeastern Pennsylvania got together for a series of jams at an Irish pub located in downtown Lancaster. Seeing the potential for something larger, they planned an afternoon gathering for the following February, and as word spread, the jam idea grew and turned into an annual event. Since its inception, the Ukulele Harmonic Convergence has doubled in attendance, pulling over 100 ukulele players from the Lancaster area and beyond. Last year’s event kicked the program up a notch by scheduling Curt Sheller as a featured performer. Details were scarce at press time, but 2018’s Ukulele Harmonic Convergence continues that format at its ongoing location, Tellus 360, and can accommodate expansion, since the pub is also a performance venue with several stages.
February 22–24, 2018 | Palm Springs, California
The balmy winter weather might suggest lazing by the pool of the Palm Springs Hilton, but ukers attending the Palm Strings Festival play hard and work hard. Those bringing plastic ukes can dive into the in-pool jam session that kicks off the event on Thursday afternoon. Wall-to-wall workshops on Friday and Saturday address all proficiency levels. Since attendance typically reaches 70, classes are held in rooms equipped with large video screens. Instructors confirmed include Matt Dahlberg, Daniel Ho, Abe Lagrimas Jr., Peter Luongo, Fred Sokolow, Heidi Swedberg, and Daniel Ward. A vendor marketplace will be open all day Friday and Saturday, and additional mini-workshops will take place on the stage in that area. In addition to the talented instructors, concerts during the festival will feature the award-winning duo of Marcy Marxer and Cathy Fink and Grammy-winning multi-instrumentalist, composer, and music producer Daniel Ho with his trio.
February 16–24, 2018 | Departing from Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Strum to the rhythm of lapping waves as the Celebrity Summit heads for your first port of call in the Bahamas. Lil’ Rev and Stu Fuchs, virtuoso musicians and inspiring teachers, have planned an invigorating week of ukulele instruction that leaves time for leisure pursuits on-board and sightseeing on land. Ports of call include Nassau, Bahamas; Punta, Cana, Dominican Republic; and St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. During “sea days,” Rev and Stu will teach 90-minute morning and afternoon multi-level classes. Lil’ Rev’s workshops are “Triplets Made Easy,” “Intros, Endings, Turnarounds, and Vamps for Ukulele,” and the very apropos “Songs of the Sea.” Stu’s are “Celtic Song and Melody for Ukulele,” “Johnny Cash for Ukulele,” “The Life & Times of Chuck Berry (Rock ’n’ Roll for Ukulele),” and a rare opportunity: “Ukulele Zen (Making Music Easy Through Mindfulness, Yoga & Qigong).” The instructors will provide handouts and gladly make themselves available to participants wishing extra support. Other activities—apart from leisure pursuits offered as part of the cruise—include poolside jams, evening jams, and open mics. This winter getaway is also a chance to build friendships with other ukers from around the world.
Hidden Valley Institute of the Arts, Carmel Valley, California | March 8–11, 2018
The Ukulele Club of Santa Cruz hosts its 8th annual Smoldering Uke winter retreat event at the Hidden Valley Music Seminars campus in beautiful Carmel Valley, California. The instructors haven’t been revealed yet, but keep an eye on the website for announcements. This year, each paid attendee will receive a printed booklet containing handouts and song sheets for all the workshops and jams. Free time between workshops will allow attendees to jam with each other, make new friends, or head off for local wine tasting, sightseeing, etc. Evening events are in the works, but not yet finalized. Accommodations for Smoldering Uke include on-campus single- or double-occupancy dorm rooms, as well as hotel rooms at the Hidden Valley Inn next door. RV parking is also available, as are meal packages for those who wish to attend the full event, but prefer to provide their own overnight lodgings.
March 16–20, 2018 | Pu’u O Hoku Ranch and Halawa Valley, Molokai, Hawaii
This ukulele gathering offers immersion in old-style Hawaiian music and culture. A 14,000-acre working ranch called Pu’u O Hoku (Hill of Stars) is home base for ukulele workshops and other learning experiences. Two of the instructors impart island culture as they coach participants in playing techniques. Lono is an inspirational interpreter and composer of old-style music who regales audiences with stories of island life. Molokai-born Kalei Gamiao has toured the U.S. mainland and Asia, performing and teaching ukulele. Joining them are popular uke performers and teachers Craig Chee and Sarah Maisel. In addition to leading workshops, instructors plan to offer tutorials. Saturday’s evening concert will showcase the talents of these instructors. Students and instructors will also share music in impromptu jam sessions known as kani ka pila. Participants stay in the comfortable 1930s-era Hawaiian Lodge located on the ranch premises, and will partake of meals prepared with foods harvested by the local community. They will also have the opportunity to sample traditional Hawaiian fare. Each morning will begin with a sunrise drive to the Halawa Valley for swimming, yoga, and music. In addition to ukulele instruction, classes in hula and Hawaiian nature printing will provide connections to island culture. In their free time, participants may want to explore the terrain of Molokai, hiking into the Halawa Valley with its ancient taro fields, twin waterfalls, and inviting beaches. Those interested in the island’s history can visit the former leprosy colony of Kalaupapa. ukeohana.com
March 26–30, 2018 | Corbett, Oregon
This retreat is designed to develop participants’ technical proficiency and general musicianship as they work through the challenges of playing in a band. Under the leadership of Marianne Brogan of the Portland Ukulele Association, the daily program begins with singing warm-ups, playing instruction, and focus on specific skills such as improvising and claw-hammer technique. Students will spend evenings jamming, performing in open-mic sessions, and attending faculty concerts. Among the confirmed instructors are Craig Chee, Sarah Maisel, and Del Rey. The schedule also allows time for exploring the beautiful Columbia River Gorge landscape surrounding the Menucha Retreat and Conference Center.