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View Full Version : Putting togetehr a Ukulele festival: Any tips? What works? What doesn't?



Woodcutterron
08-19-2011, 05:43 PM
I live in the boring little hamlet of West Point Ga. It doesn't have to be boring . . .it just is, heheh. Anyway, I would like to get a Ukulele festival put together, and have nowhere to start. The only experience I have like this is back when I was like 19 (50 now) I put together a keg party that ended up taking on a life of it's own. (I'd planned on 4 Kegs, and ended up killing 47 . . .had to even 'borrow' some porto-lets from a construction site nearby)

I have mentioned it to one city councilman and got the impression the city might be on board something like that. Anyone who has any input with regard to putting together such an event, I's sure appreciate it.

Thanks,
Ron

chindog
08-20-2011, 05:12 PM
I live in the boring little hamlet of West Point Ga. It doesn't have to be boring . . .it just is, heheh. Anyway, I would like to get a Ukulele festival put together, and have nowhere to start. The only experience I have like this is back when I was like 19 (50 now) I put together a keg party that ended up taking on a life of it's own. (I'd planned on 4 Kegs, and ended up killing 47 . . .had to even 'borrow' some porto-lets from a construction site nearby)

I have mentioned it to one city councilman and got the impression the city might be on board something like that. Anyone who has any input with regard to putting together such an event, I's sure appreciate it.

Thanks,
Ron

Ron,
Why don't you come to our Atlanta area get together that is coming up in late Sept or early Oct? The date has not yet been set in stone. Join up on the SE Ukers facebook page to keep up to date. This might help you in establishing a Uke group in the West Point / Columbus area.

Ukuleleblues
08-21-2011, 02:06 AM
Ron,
Why don't you come to our Atlanta area get together that is coming up in late Sept or early Oct? The date has not yet been set in stone. Join up on the SE Ukers facebook page to keep up to date. This might help you in establishing a Uke group in the West Point / Columbus area.

Come out to our festival on October 15 outside of Charleston and check it out. You can sign up for the e-mail list here festival.charlestonhotshots.com (festival.charlestonhotshots.com)

chindog
08-21-2011, 12:40 PM
Come out to our festival on October 15 outside of Charleston and check it out. You can sign up for the e-mail list here festival.charlestonhotshots.com (http://festival.charlestonhotshots.com)

I put my name on the list. Thanks for posting that link!

itsme
08-21-2011, 01:23 PM
Ron, I don't mean to dampen your enthusiasm, but pulling off a successful music festival is no easy task, even for those with experience planning such events. A town with a population of <4K probably isn't going to have an ukulele base strong to support such a specialized festival.

I would maybe work on trying to get a few local ukers together, then you can all carpool together to nearby events (Atlanta doesn't look very far away on the map). :)

Woodcutterron
08-21-2011, 04:47 PM
I'd like to come to the Atlanta Festival, I may give it a shot. My problem is we raise exhibition poultry, and that pretty much ends all hopes of anything that involves being away from home for much more than a day. We can't find anyone to "hold the chicken fort down" while we're gone, it's a pain in the %#@, really.

I appreciate the invite to Charleston too, thanks. These chickens are a pain in my butt, but my sweetie loves them. On the other hand . . .if any of you are or know a chicken thief . . . . I'll happily give you my address and the times we're least likely to be home!

As for the size of our town, yea, Uke fans are few and far between. I'm the only one I know of, actually, other than one college student who bought a uke after hearing me play it in the local music store on a little HiLo Soprano and found out not all uke music is Tiny Tim or Hawaiian.

I figure I might have to expand it to a "Spring-String-Fling-Thing" and open it up to other stringed instruments. My concern is that guitars would overwhelm the thing, even if it's just 8 guitars, a uke, and a guy with a zither. I also figure it might be good to tie it to another event, like a City-supported mountain bike race that is growing a bit from year to year we have in the area. Or . . .I might just give up on the idea, and sit on the couch with a beer and my new Epiphone, heheh.

Woodcutterron
08-21-2011, 04:56 PM
I have GOT to get that S.E. Ukers Tee Shirt!

hoosierhiver
08-22-2011, 03:47 AM
Maybe start out with a small gathering like Jeepers did with "Ukin' in the woods", less investment of time and money until you are sure there is interest.
By the way, I totally understand about the chicken thing. It's a love/hate thing sometimes.

nscafe
08-22-2011, 03:52 AM
I live in Montgomery, and I would definitely come to something in West Point! One of these days I plan on getting over to one of the SE Ukers get-togethers, but it hasn't happened yet. :(

seeso
08-22-2011, 04:50 AM
If you can get the city on board with your idea, they can do a lot of work for you. Marketing, advertising, and venue could be the city's domain, while you could be responsible for program, performers and tech.

I'd widen the focus of the event from exclusively ukulele to something like folk/roots music. There's a much bigger chance of the city being on board if you have a wider focus, and you'll also get a bigger audience. You could call it The West Point Folk and Roots Festival, or something like that.

If you can't get the city on board, I'd seriously consider not holding an event. The logistics are a nightmare, and it's just too expensive otherwise, with no guarantee that people will come. If the city's on board, heck - you might not need to charge people.

Before presenting your idea to the city, make sure you have a concrete plan for the event. Do you know someone else that plays music in town that could help you brainstorm? If so, get him/her on board. Two heads are better than one.

A few things I'd consider incorporating:


Childrens' Portion
A family-friendly event brings people out in droves. You or someone you know should put together an hour exclusively for kids. Make it really participation-heavy. Maybe there's someone in town or nearby that already has an act. I'm sure there's someone in Atlanta who could drive out for the gig. Hire that act.


Jam Along
Musicians of all skill levels love to play together. Pick a bunch of folk tunes and play them with everyone. You can have one guy calling out the chords on the microphone.


Area History
Research your town's and the surrounding area's local music history. Who are the big names that hail from area? What kind of music is your area known for (or should be known for)? Put together an hour of music history peppered here and there with music.

If there's a local music historian, so much the better. Get that person to put the hour together. Have a question and answer session afterwards.


Open Mike
This one's a no-brainer. Put aside an hour or two for people to get onstage and show their stuff. Everyone gets 3 songs or fifteen minutes, whatever comes first.



I would probably not consider hiring a big-name musician. It's just too much money. Keep it local and family-friendly. Hire a local band or two to play folk tunes who will work cheaply.

Just make sure all your ducks are in a row before you bring it to the city. The above suggestions are all program-related. There are so many more things to nail down, not the least of which is all the technical crapola. If the venue has a built-in sound system, that's great, but you'll still need a sound operator and a couple of techs.

You'll need an emcee as well. Is there a local radio station you can pull from? Maybe they can help sponsor the event too.

Anyways, I'm starting to babble. You could totally pull it off, but it'll take a lot of work. Get those ducks (or exhibition poultry) in a row! Find out how much it will cost the city. Get some hard numbers together.

23skidoo
08-22-2011, 05:25 AM
Woodcutter- this sounds like a great idea and I'd help out as much as I could (which wouldn't be much) from the ATL..... you might consider a venue closer to Atlanta or an established tourist area that might have the necessary facilities.... somewhere like Callaway Gardens or the Roosevelt get up over at Warm Springs. Callaway Gardens, I know, has really nice facilities and an experienced staff, although it might be more $$$$..... I dunno, I think having a wider focus and holding the event closer to Atlanta would definitely increase the draw..... something else, though, the City of Macon has a strong history of supporting the arts and has some nice facilities as well......things to think about....

Definitely get in touch with the SEUkers.... there are some nice, motivated people involved, even a few that gig around town and have some professional experience.

jima
08-22-2011, 02:02 PM
James Hill put together an article for his online uke teachers' publication Ukulele Yes! about some of the issues that go into putting on a successful festival. He got input from a lot of people who have put on festivals in the past, so there's some pretty good advice in it. Check it out: How To Organize A Ukulele Festival (http://www.ukuleleyes.com/issues/vol9/no3/feature.htm)

Woodcutterron
08-22-2011, 06:36 PM
Cool , a LOT of good advice here, thanks ya'll! I now our little city is looking for things to bring folks into town. The "KIA thing" was TOTALLY oversold as to what it would bring to our community. West Point gave them all sorts of perks . . . .and Lagrange got most of the Jobs.

Callaway Gardens or Roosevelt Park would be great, but I would kinda like to get some/all the expenses on the Cities dime, because the best I could afford to offer is maybe a keg of beer, benches to sit on, (since I make'em) maybe spring for a can of Yard Guard, heheh.

I'm going to check out that link and try to figure this stuff out. I do know the "devil is in the details" and it could really bite to miss something major with a few hundred people cussing ya!