This is now the fifth year of the Ukulele Festival of GB
As ever, we are committed to bringing some of the best acts from around the world, as well as showcasing our own home-grown talent.
Taimane picked up her first ukulele at the age of five – and so began her future performing career. Some years later, while playing on the streets of Waikiki with local beach boys backing her up, she was discovered by the legendary Hawaiian crooner, Don Ho, and soon became a featured performer in his show.
Her popularity grew from there, and she has performed in Las Vegas, California, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and Samoa, and has played privately for John Travolta, Steven Seagal, George Clooney, for Toyota, Pepsi and IBM, and at international festivals, as well as opening for top acts including as Chicago and Jimmy Buffett.
Her playing style is unique. She morphs genres from classical to classic rock to flamenco, without missing a beat, as well as writing her own songs.
Her performances are elegant and energetic and her stage presence simultaneously overwhelming and captivating, leaving her audiences wanting more.
Last year, Sarah was a late addition to our line-up – little did we know what an amazing impact she would have.
Her fantastic playing, beautiful singing, brilliant teaching and irresistible personality scored a huge hit with everyone, and we are DELIGHTED to welcome her back this year.
Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Sarah loved music from a very early age, playing violin and piano before getting hooked on the ukulele. She started taking lessons, and soon transferred her passion for jazz to the uke, becoming an accomplished player, with a unique chord-melody style and ‘harp-like playing’.
This, together with a voice which ‘shines through’, according to the Honolulu Star, was a winning combination. In 2009 she began her career as a recording artist and has several albums to her credit. Her sound and playful flirtiness delights audiences wherever she goes.
Craig was born and grew up in Hawai’i, and learned to play the cello and piano from a young age. He chose to focus on the ukulele before leaving the islands for college, wanting to bring something distinctively Hawaian to share on the mainland.
During the Christmas and summer breaks of his first year at the University of Oregon, Craig had the pleasure of studying under Jake Shimabukuro and Troy Fernandez, and ever since then has been trying to further experiment with the ukulele in settings that aren’t typically associated with the instrument.
Craig collaborated with other great local musicians for his first album and continued that tradition with his latest album by including friends familiar to the ukulele world - Aldrine Guerrero, Aaron Nakamura, Sarah Maisel, Ryan Imamura, Kahiwa Sebire - and even more local musicians in Eugene. In additional to playing, Craig has been teaching for over four years, which he loves.
Playing at local venues, the Oregon Country Fair, and ukulele festivals around the world, Craig hopes to continue to travel and share his passion for the ukulele and expand on how people view the instrument!
One of the most exciting new acts to hit the ukulele world, Ukulele Uff and Lonesome Dave hail from Liverpool. They peddle hot favourites of the jazz age and rip-roaring renditions of many uke classics with dazzling energy and flair. We met them at the great Ukuhooley last August and booked them on the spot.
Ukulele Uff says he became obsessed with the uke after stumbling upon a dusty old Ukulele Ike record in a second-hand shop in 2006. His condition worsened a couple of years ago when he inherited a beautiful old Martin ukulele. Inspired by virtuoso performers of the ‘20s and ‘30s, including Roy Smeck, he claims that his obsession is treatable but so far efforts have been futile. Stop trying, we say!
The other half of the duo is Lonesome Dave who plays the six-stringed super baritone uke (otherwise known as ''the bull uke'' or ''guitar'') and provides as much rhythm as a whole band put together - his nimble fingers have been known to surprise even himself on occasion.
The pair have been chums since childhood and have played in many bands together over the years Their first gig as a duo was in February 2012 at the Royal Philharmonic Hall in Liverpool – watch it on Youtube.
Ryo is a 20-year-old ukulele player, composer and music arranger from Japan, who started playing the uke at the age of 11. He made his stage debut when he was 13, and hasn’t looked back.
Not only is he a brilliant player of the ukulele, he also makes his own instruments – the main one he uses now is his seventh handmade uke.
He is today considered one of the best players in Japan, despite his young age, and his beautiful melodies and hugely skillful playing take ukulele music to new levels.
A ukulele player, vocalist, composer and arranger, Tomoki was born in Japan in 1992 and started playing the piano when he was three years old. He turned to the ukulele at 16, under the influence of Ryo Natoyama, and made his stage debut the same year.
In 2009, he went to the United States for a year as an exchange student, and during his stay discovered many kinds of music. Through playing at bars and charity events, he improved his technique, and after returning to Japan, he started performing more, including radio performances and a gig in Quebec, Canada.
Originally a solo instrumental player, he started singing as well in 2010, making him a new kind of ukulele artist in Japan, and also released his first mini-album, You and I.
Since 2013, he has collaborated with Yusuke Sonod (drums) and Kohei Yaguchi (bass) and now performs both as a solo artist and as a trio in Tokyo and throughout Japan, including a recent performance at Japan’s biggest festival - the Nagoya Hawaii Festival.
An accomplished musician whose career has wound its way from jazz to experimental by way of heavy metal,
the K discovered the ukulele during a 2006 trip to Hawaii and immediately fell under its spell.
Upon returning home to France, he was impressed by the possibilities of his little 4-string. He came to call it his “creativity booster”— precisely what he needed to break free from 25 years of guitarist clichés. But the K couldn’t be satisfied with traditional ways of playing
the instrument. He decided to take the ukulele in other
The K met Josh in a tabla class and asked him to
participate in a power trio : bass, drums, and uke.
Intrigued by this unlikely combination, Josh accepted
and the first U.K.E. was born. Josh, originally a rock
drummer, took a growing interest in other percussion
instruments. Today he plays the tabla, udu and other
noise making objects—all, of course, while continuing to
bang out crazy jungle rhythms on his cajon.
The juxtaposition of solid rhythms with new ukulele
sounds is what makes U.K.E. so original. Eventually the
trio became a duo and started adding electronic parts
and real-time loops to their repertoire. The band has
played in a variety of concerts and festivals around the
world : USA, Australia, Canada and various European
countries. The band began with a piece that incorporated
traditional Indian flavors and finished off the show with a touch of acoustic banjo
ukulele accompanied by the tabla in a drum and bass number fit for the dance floor.
U.K.E. is a truly unique musical experience.
Ukulollo is Lorenzo Vignando, an Italian Ukulele player from Lucca – Tuscany.
In 2009 his arrangement of Ravel’s Bolero for 4 ukuleles, percussion and bass got thousands of views in in few days on YouTube, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DuWgx0EnZnY bringing him to the attention of the ukulele community.
In this video he plays all the instruments, at the same time, on the same stage?? You'll see!
He uses this "splitting" technique for his live sets as well, duetting with himself and other virtual guests projected on a screen beside him.
Siwar Mansour is a 19 year old Palestinian living in Israel. She first became familiar with this instrument when Paul Moore, founder of Ukuleles for Peace, came to her school and presented the wonderful little instrument. He believed if kids from Arab towns and Jewish towns met to play the ukulele they would make a change. He was right, and the orchestra has brought together kids and their families over the years and is well known to their communities. This is something she is passionate about, and today she is still part of the Ukuleles for Peace orchestra.
She also plays the violin, mostly classical music, but also in a band named, HeartBeat. This band is more like a community of musicians from a variety of backgrounds that get together to write and play music. Heartbeat has been a great tool for Siwar to share her thoughts and feelings about the conflict and to get to play great music. Last March they toured the US carrying the message of hope and peace in their music.
Ukulollo and Siwar met 4 years ago during the filming of Ukuleles for Peace documentary. 3 years ago they did this... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-6bHi4uokUA. Then they kept on with their own musical careers.
But now they have created a whole brand new show specially for the Ukulele Festival of Great Britain 2014.
They'll play original songs and covers, duetting and melting the sounds of ukuleles, violin and their two voices.
You won't believe your ears!
Phil is one of the most recognisable players on the UK ukulele scene, and has been at the forefront of the ukulele revival for the last 10 years.
A 'player’s player', he is in demand for festivals (both as a performer and as a workshop leader), theatre and club gigs, and private events in the UK and Europe.
He is also a prominent teacher of the ukulele, has appeared on several albums, performed on BBC radio and TV, and has shared the stage with some of the world’s finest players. He has played everything from heavy metal to morris dance tunes, and most recently has focussed on solo chord-melody playing and his first love, jazz, and is really enjoying the challenges it brings.
Oh yes... they're back again to provide us with their unique style of music, comedy and so much more!!
Will we see a world record attempt for the most paper planes thrown from a stage? Who knows! You'll just have to wait and see.
The Hot Potato Syncopators are a comedy swing band featuring a brace of ukuleles, musical saw and tea-chest bass. A top-class revue of swinging jazz and hilarious antics.
The Mother Ukers have created their own unique sound, which they dub ‘Ukular Fusion’! This trio of dapper gentlemen rework the greatest hits from just about every musical genre – pop, punk, classic rock, jazz, blues and bluegrass.
Performing with humour and relentless energy, the trio say their music is intended to unleash the power of their humble little 4-string ukes and guarantee to tickle your ears, kiss your soul and get them feet a-tapping. Formed in 2011, Mother Ukers, Jonty Jonson, Luap Rekcut and Barnaby Wild have proved a big hit on the festival scene and have become one of the hardest working ukulele bands in the UK.
Tim & Jake Smithies have been playing together for a while now… as a father and son duo and as part of the mighty Anything Goes Orchestra. DMU is a stripped down, simple and stomping ukulele and bass combo that plays blues, Americana and anything else they darn well please on resonator uke and double bass.
Having played most of the pubs in their now native Yorkshire Dales, the odd festival and recorded a debut EP they are heading further afield and stomping all the way… you have been warned.
“Dead Mans Uke is a two man band who rock vintage tunes in a new yet old kinda way!”
“Dead Mans Uke is a melodic, ukulele-and-bass driven tumble into the pool of popular new music. I’m impressed by their killer vocals and inventive instrumental accompaniment, hunt them down (or look them up) and listen”
“The hairiest ukulele duo in Britain. Don’t miss the Dead Men live!”
Will Grove-White UOGB.