Uke U 6

This weekend more than 300 ukulele players descended on the sleepy town of Tumalo, Oregon for the 6th annual Ukulele University and we were honored to attend the event as sponsors.  The weekend was filled with great workshops, concerts, and sing alongs, but the best part was the atmosphere.  Our booth was centered in the action and every time a workshop let out the halls were flooded with smiling people carrying ukuleles of every shape and size.

I didn’t really know what to expect when I came to Uke U 6.  I had visited uke jams and have participated in several art festivals, but this one was something completely different.  There was an atmosphere of acceptance, fun, support, and encouragement.  The uke players varied from brand new pickers to professionals with albums for sale and everything in between, but nobody seemed to care how well you played.  Everyone had one thing in common – the ukulele, the magical little Hawaiian instrument that brings people together and puts smiles on their faces.

The highlights of the festival revolved around the people.  Impromptu hallway jams on Hotel California, singing Dylan tunes around the campfire, and in depth conversations about the structure of ukuleles and wood with incredible luthiers.  One of my favorite moments was when Melissa, owner of The Hug Strap, found her new electric uke.  She had played a few of the ukes, but when she picked up a black walnut tenor something magic happened.  We plugged it in and there was an instant energy in the air.  The uke fit her and she fit the uke.  After running back to her booth to get a Hug Strap for her new ukulele and plugging back in for a picture, Melissa looked over at the mic in my booth and gave it a tap, before stepping up and starting to sing.  A crowd gathered in the hallway for her spontaneous concert and after a healthy round of applause, Melissa revealed that the song was an original!

Uke U 6 was an awesome and inspiring event.  I learned so much and can’t wait  to get into the workshop and make more instruments!

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