View Full Version : Great uke-history show at Ukulele Academy in N.C.!

08-18-2015, 04:59 AM
Some of you know about the uke store in Wilmington, N.C. Ukulele Academy. http://alohau.com
It’s owned by Kent Knorr, who’s been playing ukes for 27 years. He sells a variety of ukes—from beginners’s ukes, through step-up & double-step-up ukes in all sizes (the largest part of his stock), to a small selection of very fine ukes (Koaloha, deluxe Kamaka, Koaloha, G-String, Maui Music). Also cases and gear.

Craig and I had talked about going to check it out for some time, but it’s a 2.5-hour drive from home. But when Kent presented a show called “History of the Ukulele,” we made the trip. It was worth it.

On display in the shop were Kent's own collection of vintage ukes and uke items.
He stood on the little stage in his shop and walked us (about 50 people) through the history of the ukulele, from the Portuguese braguinha player arriving in Hawaii to today’s 4th wave of popularity.
He told how Hawaiian players at the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition introduced the uke to millions of mainlanders. He discussed 1920s style, Formby style, hapa haole style, picking and chord-melody styles.
He noted several individuals who led their own styles or trends: Harry Owens, Arthur Godfrey, Herb Ohta, Lyle Ritz, Jim Beloff (for making modern music available), IZ, Jake Shimabukuro, and others.

For each person and style, he played a song of the time on a uke of the time from his collection. He played some styles with greater skill, but it’s impressive to be able to play Pearly Shells traditionally; then Leaning on a Lamp like Formby; then Waikiki Beach like Ohta-san; then St. Thomas like Lyle Ritz; then Michelle like Jake; then Tropical Hawaiian Day like Ka’au Crater Boys. Many more songs, and all from memory.

Ukuele Academy offers uke lessons for people of all skill levels. Since the shop is about 15 minutes from Wrightsville Beach, you can have uke-productive time while you’re on vacation.

Bravo, Kent! Do this show again soon!


08-18-2015, 05:02 AM
Here are some of Kent's vintage ukes and memorabilia.


08-18-2015, 05:05 AM
And here is Kent's presentation/performance. Note that he's holding a different uke in each picture. His wife joined him on kazoo for When the Saints Are Marching In.
Pictures are not sharp in available light, and he had a yellow light shining on him.


08-18-2015, 07:10 AM
Thanx for the post. I live in the desert island section of N.C. and that is so unbeliveable something that big could happen and not be bluegrass.I now have faith that some one will get lost and stumble by.
Thank you

08-18-2015, 07:50 AM
I bought my Pono MGT from Kent. It was one of two available at the time in the US.
Kent is great to deal with and very helpful. He is very easy to talk to and has a wealth of information about ukes.
+1 for the Ukulele Academy in Wilmington, NC.

08-18-2015, 10:29 AM
Looks like a great show! Wish I could've joined you. Have been to NC Academy many times over the years. Kent is always friendly and helpful and is very knowledgeable about ukuleles. I've seen NC Academy grow from a small shop to what it is today.

08-18-2015, 12:06 PM
Thanx for the post. I live in the desert island section of N.C. and that is so unbeliveable something that big could happen and not be bluegrass.I now have faith that some one will get lost and stumble by.
Thank you

Where is the "desert island" section of N.C.?
I think having the Ukulele Academy in Wilmington is a good choice because it's so close to the beach, which many people link to playing ukes. There's an historic downtown, but it's a super-casual community in general.

08-18-2015, 12:46 PM
Just love those woven rattan uke cases in the last photo!

Trader Todd
08-18-2015, 06:00 PM
I agree, it was a great presentation. I drove up from Myrtle Beach and it was worth the trip. That collection of vintage ukes is impressive. Thought his wife nailed Sweet Georgia Brown on the kazoo! I almost left with a new Pono tenor (next time). I wish he'd open a franchise in Myrtle Beach - Ukulele Academy of SC has a nice ring to it. Nice coverage of the event BTW.

08-18-2015, 07:19 PM
Thanks for posting! I bought two ukes from Kent and he was great to work with.

He's got quite a collection there. Is that a Favilla teardrop ukulele in the back row? The peanut uke is pretty cool too.

08-19-2015, 03:00 AM
My mom just moved to Carolina Beach, which is right near Wilmington. Looking forward to visiting Kent's store the next time I'm down there!

- FiL

08-19-2015, 08:07 AM
You practically have to drive by Uke Academy to get to Carolina Beach, FiL. Maybe you can find a little uke for your mom to play on her deck.