Denver Uke Fest
Thursday, June 5-Saturday, June 7, Swallow Hill Music, 71 East Yale Ave., Denver, 303-777- 1003, www.swallowhillmusic.org. $30-$130.
So much in music is about largesse.
Bigger shows, bigger spectacle, bigger sound. But Colorado musicians will be celebrating the opposite with the annual Denver Ukulele Festival, going down June 5-7 at Swallow Hill Music in Denver.
“The ukulele is a really accessible instrument,” says Lindsay Taylor, publicity manager for Swallow Hill Music. “There’s only four strings on it so it’s really easy to manage for people. The ukulele is small, you can put it on your back, you can go anywhere with it. It goes hand in hand with what Swallow Hill believes, which is that music should be accessible to all.”
The festival will include dozens of performances and workshops, spanning all levels of skill in the ukulele.
“I am really interested in the finger-style blues workshop that’s happening because that’s something you don’t typically think of with the ukulele,” says Taylor.
The intro-level courses will mostly be taught by local musicians, but many of the courses will be taught by big names in the ukulele world like Hawaii’s Aldrine Guerrero, founder of UkuleleUnderground.com, who will be teaching a workshop called “These Are Some of My Favorite Riffs.”
“The thing that I really love about Uke Fest is watching all these people come together for one thing: the ukulele,” says Taylor. “But each of them has a different definition of what the instrument means to them.”
There will be performances from Guererro, The Ooks of Hazard, Stukulele, Star Belle, The Copoetics and more, and, of course, the annual Heavy Metal Uke Jam, an event Taylor says is less about metal than it is about reaching out across genres.
“Really, it’s a singalong with a funny name,” she says. The Denver Uke Fest was at one point one of the biggest ukulele festivals in the world, with 1,200 attendees. But Taylor says things will be slightly scaled back this year, with capacity for 300 to 400 people. And Taylor says that tickets are going fast, even for people that have never played before.
“I’m always surprised by how many ukuleles we have to loan out,” she says. Get more info, purchase tickets and see a full schedule at www.swallowhillmusic.org/events-andfestivals/ukefest/.