L.A. International Ukulele Festival
|Lots of Great Shirts at the Uke-Fest!|
I met up with the Los Angeles ukulele community in Torrance on Saturday for the first L.A. International Ukulele Festival. Considering this was the first effort by this group of organizers, I think they did a fairly good job. The Torrance Cultural Arts Center an excellent location for this event. It was easy to find and freeway close, there are several air-conditioned class areas and auditoriums, an outside plaza and plenty of free parking. I do believe that there were 500 tickets sold. There weren't that many people in attendance, thankfully.
|Natalie and Cher|
I arrived at the same time as my friends, Natalie and Cher. We registered and walked into the plaza to see our friend Diane playing a concert with the CC Strummers. This is a group from Culver City, led by musician Cali Rose. They played many peppy and recognizable songs! At the end of their set, those of us in the audience with our ukes joined the group sing-a-long with Cali and the CC Strummers. It was a great start to our day.
|CC Strummers and Cali Rose|
For the attendance fee of $35, you could attend any classes that were available. There were many classes to choose from for all levels of ukulele players. They offered beginning classes to detailed classes on how to build and hear chord progressions, ukulele chord melodies, moving up the fret board and Hawaiian song basics to Hula dancing! During all of these classes, there were constant performances outside in the plaza. Many uke-stars were there. Just outside the plaza there were tables of vendors selling everything from tiki mugs and ukulele-shaped jewelry to actual ukuleles and accessories. There was so much to see and do! Inside one of the halls there was a kitchen where Hawaiian-style snacks and lunch were being served for very reasonable prices.
|Tiki mugs and pottery for sale|
|Owners from TikiGuy Studio in Phoenix|
If it hadn't been so hot and humid, this would have been the perfect festival. Mitch Chang and his group of organizers did a great job, under the circumstances.
I decided to take a class called "Ukulele Chord Melodies." There was music for this class that was made available for download, pre-festival. I was ready. I sat in the front row. I will not mention the name of the instructor, because he really didn't teach us anything. He stood on the stage and played the melodies that we were supposed to learn. He didn't address the class. We didn't go through the melodies line by line. This guy just did not know how to teach. I felt embarrassed for him as people got up to leave. After awhile, I decided that this was a waste of my time, so I left too. It's too bad, because I'd heard that so many of the other teachers held excellent group classes. Oh well, it was time to stand in the long lines for lunch anyway.
|People leaving class!|
Standing in line was fun. I met and talked to other local ukulele students. I always learn tips and tricks and valuable information from chatting with other uke-sters!
After lunch I sat with Cricket and Diane and we listened to some of the performers. It was really fun. The spirit of the crowd and the performers was filled with the Aloha spirit...one big ohana!
|Westside Ukulele Ensemble. They were great!|
My second class for the day was excellent! Diane and I took "Let's Arrange A Song on the Ukulele!" with Cali Rose. We learned the "Hawaiian War Chant" song. It was so much fun learning different strumming techniques, picking melody lines, rhythmic flourishes and chord embellishments all in one song! Cali is a really good teacher. Her class was a pleasure. I wish I could take her class at the Culver City Senior Center. If only I didn't have this pesky job! Cali also teaches on Saturdays at Boulevard Music in Culver City. I may look into one of her workshops there.
|Diane and Ellen. Photo by Cricket|
We cruised the vendor booths, talked with more friends and waved a fond Aloha in the late afternoon to everyone at the Torrance Cultural Center. I look forward to next year's festival.