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 2018 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 22 from 9:30 a.m.-6:00 p.m. at the Torrance Cultural Arts Center, this unique 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 2018 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; Strum-Alongs; Pop Songs; Artist Q&As; Reggae Strumming; Scales; Intro to Hula; Singing for Ukulele Players; Chord Melodies; Blues for Ukulele; Improvising; Clawhammer ukulele; and more. Artists and Workshop instructors include Aaron & Nicole Keim, Taimane Gardner, The Ukulele Teacher, Abe Lagrimas, Kris Fuchigami, Mitch Chang, Ukulenny, Cali Rose, Marlowe, Musical Mama, Cynthia Lin, among others.
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 2018 Los Angeles International Ukulele Festival include (check the Festival website for updates):
Aaron & Nicole Keim: The Quiet American: A home-grown modern folk revival, The Quiet American is husband and wife duo, Aaron and Nicole Keim whose music incorporates traditional ballads, banjo breakdowns, raggy choruses, gospel duets and other dusty Americana gems, all delivered on a variety of acoustic instruments.
Taimane Gardner: Whether delicately finger-picking through Bach or radically ripping through Led Zeppelin, Taimane has the ability to morph genres – from classical to rock to flamenco – and stretch her instrument far beyond the familiar melodies of Hawai`i, where she grew up. In addition to performing her own distinctive versions of well-known pieces, Taimane weaves in original compositions that are as far ranging as her musical tastes. With the fierceness of a rocker, and the grace of a dancer, Taimane and her music are wowing ever-larger audiences.
Abe Lagrimas, Jr.: Abe has performed at ukulele and jazz festivals throughout the world and released multiple albums in the United States, Japan, and Korea. An active educator, Abe has written instructional ukulele books for Consonus Music Institute and for the Berklee Press; his book entitled Jazz Ukulele: Comping, Soloing, Chord Melodies, is published by Hal Leonard.
Marlowe: Influenced by artists such as Jake Shimabukuro, Kalei Gamiao, and Kris Fuchigami, Marlowe has been performing and recording as an ukulele artist for six years, and is now endorsed by Kala Brand Music Co., Aquila Strings Corde, and Analysis Plus Cables. Marlowe performs a collection of covers and originals spanning from light orchestral arrangements, to exciting and obscure compositions.
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.
Tickets to the 2018 Los Angeles International Ukulele Festival tickets (including workshops and performances) are $45; $20 for students with ID at the door; free for kids 12 & under and are available online at or call (800) 595-4849. The Torrance Cultural Arts Center is located at 3330 Civic Center Drive, Torrance, CA 90503. Please check the Festival schedule online for updates and times at .
How to Register?
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