Ukulele festivals are huge in the US and whilst there is a mammoth festival over here in Cheltenham every summer, until now there’s been a big gap up here in the splendid North.
Which is why a group of the most excellent ukulele players and fans have got together to bring us our very own festival here in West Yorkshire.
Taking place at Pontefract Town Hall in October, the first Grand Northern Ukulele Festival will bring together artists representing the best in ukulele music from around the world, offering a myriad of live performances of all different styles and genres, workshops to improve your own ukulele playing and stalls from local businesses, ukulele makers and music shops.
This festival has a real community and D.I.Y. focus to it, not to mention a social conscience – the organisers have made it a priority to seek out performers that feature female musicians in prominent roles to hit back at the perceived issue of gender bias in music. Awesome!
Uke stars hitting the stage will include Canadian blues performer, Manitoba Hal, Emily Scott, a regular hit at the Edinburgh Fringe and the Uke Box from the Netherlands. They are joined by the likes of Ukulelezaza [above], Mike Warren, one of the UK’s most well-loved players of George Formby-style ukulele and banjolele, and folk/blues band from the North-West, Lou and the Llamas.
Co-Director of the Grand Northern Ukulele Festival, Mary Agnes Krell, proudly says, “Being a northern festival, we wanted to invite performers who were from the north of the UK and also international artists who came from the notional north of their respective areas. We are really keen and excited to produce this festival – there are so many lovely uke players.”
Many of the acts performing are also running workshops for beginners up to intermediate levels so you can load up on tips whilst making friends and potential new band mates at the same time. Mike Warren will be teaching the techniques of George Formby whilst Manitoba Hal explores the blues. There are also workshops to develop jazz and Hawaiian styles, learn new strumming techniques and build and paint your own instruments!
A Grand Northern Ukulele Festival takes place at Pontefract Town Hall on Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th October 2013. Tickets are available now.