Celebrating the little four-stringed wonder – the Ukulele – which has been captivating hearts and bringing musical joy into people’s lives for over 100 years, the 2017 Los Angeles International Ukulele Festival presented by Kala Koa Entertainment, is an exciting day-long event dedicated to exploring the musical versatility of the ukulele for the experienced ukulele player, the occasional strummer, or simply the curious spectator. Taking place on Saturday, September 30 from 9:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. at the Torrance Cultural Arts Center, The Festival includes workshops for all levels of playing ability to work on technique or simply learn to play, live all-star performances by some of today’s most popular ukulele players (included in admission), as well as a variety of vendors and popular Hawaiian food and beverage options (for purchase). The 2017 Los Angeles International Ukulele Festival is the only festival of its kind where one can enjoy all-star performances all-day by today’s hottest ukulele talent plus access to all the workshops, all for $45 for the day – kids 12 and under are free to attend.
Workshops at the Ukulele Festival include programs for Beginners (in Japanese and English); Strum-alongs; Pop Songs; Artist Q&As; Reggae Strumming; Scales; Intro to Hula; Singing for Ukulele Players; Chord Melodies; Blues for Ukulele; Intros & Endings; Triplets; and Get your Right Hand Grooving; and more. Artist and Workshop instructors include Li’l Rev, The Ukulele Teacher, Cynthia Lin, Fred Sokolow, Mitch Chang, Ukulenny, Mahealani, Jody Kamisato, Victoria Vox, Kalei Gamiao, Krista Kupau, Mele Ohana, Honoka & Azita, fulare_pad, among others. Please check the Festival schedule online for updates and times at kalakoa.com/ukulele/schedule.
The ukulele is an instrument that is rich with history and tradition originating in the 19th century as a Hawaiian adaptation of the Portuguese machete, a small guitar-like instrument, which was introduced to Hawaii by Portuguese immigrants, mainly from Madeira and the Azores and is a member of the lute family of instruments. Ukuleles commonly come in four sizes: soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone and generally employs four nylon or gut strings or four courses of strings. The ukulele gained great popularity elsewhere in the United States during the early 20th century and from there spread internationally.
The ukulele is commonly associated with music from Hawaii where the name roughly translates as “jumping flea,” perhaps because of the movement of the player’s fingers. Legend attributes it to the nickname of the Englishman Edward William Purvis, one of King Kalākaua’s officers, because of his small size, fidgety manner, and playing expertise. According to Queen Liliʻuokalani, the last Hawaiian monarch, the name means “the gift that came here”, from the Hawaiian words uku (gift or reward) and lele (to come).
The ‘uke’ has found a unique home for itself in both traditional and popular music. Artists as diverse as Eddie Vedder, Amanda Palmer, Don Ho, and Jason Mraz have all made use of the ukulele over the years to add a special something to their classic songs. A great starting point for musicians of any age, the uke is an easy to learn instrument that will provide a challenge, as well as musical joy, for years to come.
Among the many performers and instructors participating in the 2017 Los Angeles International Ukulele Festival include (check the Festival website for updates):
Lil Rev: A musician, educator, and storyteller of American roots music and culture whose heroes include Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Josh White, Sonny Terry, Cicso Houston and Leadbelly. “Lil Rev isn’t an act, he’s real.” – Joe Hickerson, Former Head of Library of Congress Folk Archive “Listen to this! Lil Rev is great!” – Pete Seeger
Victoria Vox: From the cover of the Spring Issue of Ukulele Magazine to the front page of The Wall Street Journal, Victoria Vox is making appearances everywhere with performances unique and endearing, captivating an incredibly diverse audience.
Honoka & Azita: Gaining worldwide attention for their electrifying performances, Honoka & Azita are quickly emerging as one of the preeminent ukulele players of the next generation. Energy, fun, passion and pure hearts would best describe this dynamic ukulele duo.
fulare_pad [phonetically “flu-ry-pad”]: A ukulele-guitar duo in Japan, making the sound to take you on a free and easy journey of music. Their name is a combination of a Japanese word “furari” and an English word “pad” referred to as
John Atkins, aka “The Ukulele Teacher” from YouTube: The Ukulele Teacher’s YouTube channel boasts nearly 1,000,000 subscribers and over 300 lessons which attract in over three million views each month with a diverse mix of oldies, kids songs, and the very latest pop tunes. Grace Vanderwaal has credited John with inspiring her to play the ukulele.
For those interested, a starter Ohana ukulele can be purchased for only $119, which also includes entry into the festival.
2017 Los Angeles International Ukulele Festival tickets (includes workshops and performances) are $45; $20 students with ID at the door; free for kids 12 & under, and are available online at www.ukuleleisfun.com or call (800) 595-4849. The Torrance Cultural Arts Center is located at 3330 Civic Center Drive, Torrance, CA 90503.
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