View Full Version : Denver Uke Fest highlights

05-18-2012, 01:45 PM
Attendees, post your pics/stories/videos here.

I'm eating at the Big Hoss after Jake's wonderful workshop, so no pics yet, but I'm taking quite a few. The workshop was great, with Jake giving tips, telling stories, and answering questions. And Aldrine made a guest appearance on stage to play a duet of Piano Forte!

If you see me, say hi! I'm wearing a bright purple flowery Aloha shirt.

05-18-2012, 02:05 PM
Dang! Sounds awesome!! So much talent in one place. I'll have to try to come up for that next year.

05-18-2012, 02:43 PM
Waiting in the rapidly growing concert line now. The Denver Uke grou has been playing songs for everyone.

05-18-2012, 03:00 PM
Thanks for the updates! I guess I can be at the Denver Ukulele Festival at least vicariously this weekend!

05-18-2012, 05:26 PM
hey im intrested on going tomorrow but a little short on money. how much does cost to get in if any?

05-18-2012, 08:04 PM
Alas, it's all sold out. :(

05-19-2012, 04:03 PM
Where's the highlights?

05-19-2012, 09:09 PM
Too busy to post! It's 1 AM and I got home not too long ago, after having gotten up early to get to Denver on time.

I took lots of photos and videos, and plan to do a full write-up within the next couple days. Stay tuned!

05-19-2012, 09:20 PM
Thank goodness somebody took photos. It was great! Jake? Well, Jake is Jake. It was a nice workshop and a great concert. Today's workshops were fun and the concert tonight was excellent. Aldrine and Aaron were unbelievably great. They got at least 3 standing ovations. They also were the only ones asked to play an encore. I hope some video shows up. Their song highlight for me was a Bach number. Wow!
I also got to meet a bunch of UUers! Mya Moe had a booth -- lovely ukuleles. Oceana Ukuleles are gorgeous too and sounded great. I got to meet Musicguymic. He looks terrific. (I'd been sorta worried about him because he'd been so sick)
I'm exhausted. I cant wait to hear some videos. The music was great.

05-20-2012, 08:18 AM
I got a few video clips of Aldrine and Aaron, including a bit of the Bach piece. I'll get them up Soon™.

05-20-2012, 11:09 AM
Aldrine and Aaron really captured the audience unlike anyone else. Made me proud of UU. Highlight of their concert: (Aldrine) "do you all want to hear Aaron sing?" (Aaron: silence) (Audience: uproar). Aaron proceeds to absolutely blow people away with his genuine, soulful, and beautiful voice. Goodness was that ever a highlight for me!

Aldrine was unbelievable. He is certainly going to move to the forefront of "ukulele virtuosos" doing the circuit. I was at both evenings, and Aldrine is in my opinion, in his own league. He is a natural performer, and just can't stop smiling. Aaron is a wonderful combination with him, and is also extremely talented on his own. Aaron is also such a gentleman: he spent a bit of time with me at the UU table just open to any direction I wanted to take the conversation.

But for those who stayed, Nellie Mckay was another showstopper--although not for ukulele, just for stage presence, total songwriting brilliance, and staggering piano chops. Her ukulele approach is very basic, but it works and is authentic, just like her 1920's Gibson uke.

If I had one critique to offer to Swallow Hill, who put on the show, it would be: please remove the acts that only feature ukulele as an aside to the rest of their performance. There were at least two acts that just did not add much to the ukulele theme, and rather irritated many people in my part of the auditorium. If we want Denver to be the site of a great ukulele festival, we are going to have to do more research to find people who can really play the ukulele in an inspiring way as a feature, rather than a novelty.

That said, Nellie Mckay was so over-the-top talented that even her piano songs were good with me. Perhaps I am just inconsistent in my opinions--but one rarely encounters her degree of professionality.

Congrats to UU for stealing the show in a good way!

05-20-2012, 11:56 AM
I overheard someone say that Aldrine was phenomenal last year - so it was hard to believe that this year he could be so much better. If there is one person (or act when you consider Aldrine and Aaron) who may be welcomed back next year it would be Aldrine - he was the crowd favorite.

05-20-2012, 04:37 PM
OK, I put together Part 1 of my write-up on the Denver Uke Fest (it got so long I'll have to do it in two parts). You can view it on my blog here: http://ukenewbie.blogspot.com/2012/05/denver-uke-fest-part-1.html

05-20-2012, 08:46 PM
Just MHO, but this year was much different than last year in Denver. Aldrine and Aaron kicked butt (again!) and that's no surprise. Jake was his usual amazing self. What was surprising to me was the diversity of the program. Instead of the usual uke-centric theme, there were some new acts that held their own, with or without uke. Nellie McKay was so far off the usual track, and so incredibly talented, that if you hung in long enough to "get" what she was about you realized that you'd both been had and got your money's worth. Tina and Her Pony were hauntingly different, with melodies and harmonies that totally hooked me. Aaron Keim, playing backup uke, bass and and also teaching a session on getting beyond strumming, was simply brilliant. The Hapa Hillbillies, Char, Faceman and all the rest rounded out a very eclectic scene that was nothing short of fun. It was music like you can't get anywhere else, with people in the audience hungry and happy to be there. A simply wonderful treat of a weekend. Thanks, Denver, for hosting another great weekend!

05-21-2012, 02:32 AM
Gadzukes - nice write up, I like your blog

05-21-2012, 07:38 AM
Gadzukes - Thanks for the blog post. Reading it and looking at the photos was at least a little like being there. Maybe next year ......

05-21-2012, 11:13 AM
Gadzukes - Wow! What an amazing write up. I'm trying to put one together for the West Coast Ukulele Retreat and I wish I could just copy yours and change the details. Serious kudos on the D&D reference. Thanks for sharing your experience with us.


05-21-2012, 11:43 AM
Gadzukes--Great write-up! It was my first uke festival as well and it'll be extremely hard to top that.

Chris Tarman
05-21-2012, 03:06 PM
I just got back from Denver a couple of hours ago and haven't had time to read Gadzukes' blog write-up yet (although I did glance at it on my iPhone last night). This was my 3rd Denver Uke Fest. I had a blast again! It was fun seeing ukunuke again, and meeting shega and sukie (and getting to drool over sukie's Flamingo Moore Bettah in person!). I wish that I had been able to figure out who the other UUers were!
I only got to go Saturday, so I missed Jake (but got to see him in Grand Junction on the 16th, so it worked out well!). I was really impressed with the acts I saw. Aldrine and Aaron, of course, were phenomenal (as they were last year), and (IMO) should have had top billing on Saturday. Tina and her Pony were very interesting, and I really liked the sound of the cello with the ukulele. Nellie McKay, as ukunuke said, was VERY different and took a little time to grow on me. I could tell right away that she was very talented, but she was... well... Unique. Which turned out to be a good thing. I missed Victor And Penny's concert in the afternoon, because at first I couldn't think of who they were... then I realized that I have their CD and have seen them on YouTube! I raced up to the auditorium, but they were finished. I was glad they did a couple of songs that evening as one of the " Tweener" acts. Also, I had NO IDEA that Char from Mya-Moe could sing like that! Wow!!!
I hope I can go again next year!

05-21-2012, 03:25 PM
Has Swallow Hill set a date for next year? Will they improve the venue?

05-21-2012, 04:04 PM
Oh my goodness I'm so excited to see pictures and vids when I get home, you guys (reading from . phone). These write ups about the event makes me really wanna make my way from san diego to check it out, or hope it comes to SD!

05-21-2012, 08:03 PM
Gadzukes: Simply put, if I wasn't totally in awe of Jake and Aldrine and committed to following them around the country like a lost puppy, I'd be first in line to me YOUR newest stalker. GREAT blog - a real treat. Thanks for sharing. Well done!

05-22-2012, 05:24 AM
Thanks for all the kind words! I'm happy to report that Part 2 is up: http://ukenewbie.blogspot.com/2012/05/denver-uke-fest-part-2.html

05-22-2012, 06:09 AM
Awesome, awesome reviews. Now, I'm just waiting -- as patiently as is possible for me -- for videos. That Bach number Aldrine did? I cannot wait to see. I LOVED it.

05-22-2012, 06:16 AM
Keep in mind I only have ~20 second clips of each of the performers, and they were filmed on an iPhone. It'll give an idea, but it ain't a repeat performance. :)

05-22-2012, 06:21 AM
Keep in mind I only have ~20 second clips of each of the performers, and they were filmed on an iPhone. It'll give an idea, but it ain't a repeat performance. :)
Oh, come on. Quit holding out! :-)

I still wanna see those 20 seconds.

05-22-2012, 08:04 AM
I should have it up in a day or so.

05-22-2012, 10:56 AM
I have a couple of pictures... There is one of Prof. Aldrine leading a class.

05-22-2012, 10:59 AM
And one picture of the incomparable Nellie McKay.

Chris Tarman
05-22-2012, 05:20 PM
Oh yeah... I bought a new ukulele. Go figure.

05-23-2012, 12:37 PM
OK, it took me a while to get all the videos uploaded, but the final part of my Denver Uke Fest coverage is up: http://ukenewbie.blogspot.com/2012/05/denver-uke-fest-part-3.html