Sebastopol (USA) - Ukulele Festival 2014


Ukulele classes abound in Sebastopol where novice musicians of all ages come together in a group setting to learn one of the easiest instruments to play on the planet. With only 4 strings, the ukulele is known for it's simplicity. The ease of tuning and the ease of playing make it an extra-friendly version of the guitar, all the more so because of its happy sound and traditionally positive Hawaiian melodies.

And in case you hadn't heard, there's a bit of Hawaii happening in Sebastopol on Saturday, May 10th when the Second Annual Ukulele Festival will take place at the Sebastopol Community Cultural Center from 12:00 – 10:00 p.m. The daytime offers workshops ranging from gospel play-along and British Invasion Songs to syncopated strumming and a Ukulele Kids' Jam with Mr. Music.

For those in the mood for a jolly concert, the evening features Ralph Shaw, King of the Ukulele from Vancouver, B.C. He is especially known for his banjo ukulele and his uplifting celebration of all that is happy and delightful in the human spirit. Local ukulele band, Da Puna Bruddahs are up next, reminding us that "Aloha is contagious." And the evening wraps up with Mr. December, a bass and ukulele combo that evolved to its mellow sound from its beginnings as a Punk Rock group in the '90's.

The ukulele itself is an adaptation of a guitar brought by Portuguese immigrants to Hawaii in the 1880's. Some say the name "ukulele" means "jumping flea" as a reference to the movement of the players' fingers, or perhaps for an early virtuoso in the Islands who was reported to be short and rather fidgetty. Others say the name means "the gift that came here" from "uku" meaning "gift or reward" and "lele" meaning "to come."

Whatever its literal translation, the ukulele gained popularity stateside with the Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco in 1915. The instrument quickly became a favorite of vaudeville performers and Tin Pan Alley. 

Later generations may remember Tiny Tim as he tip-toed through the tulips with his own ukulele and signature falsetto. George Harrison of the Beatles was also a ukulele fan. Paul McCartney still plays the instrument in memorial concerts to honor his good friend. 

So, whether you are in the mood for learning a fun new instrument, or wish to simply enjoy a concert full of Aloha, hop on down to the Ukulele festival Saturday, May 10 at the Sebastopol Community Cultural Center.

You can buy tickets online. For more information, contact the Sebastopol Community Cultural Center, Tuesday through Friday at 823-1511.

P.S. If you'd like to post a YouTube video in the blog, here's the code for a good one of Mr. December and Hot Buttered Clams:


Here's a YouTube video of Tiny Tim singing Tip Toe Through the Tulips:

By Tasha Beauchamp Cittaslow Sebastopol