Ukulele strummers descend on Newcastle for festival
Members of the Newcastle Hunter Valley Folk Club prepare for the weekend festival. Picture by Marina NeilTHE Hunter is humming with the gentle strumming of ukuleles emanating from the second Newkulele Festival.
President of Newcastle and Hunter Valley Folk Club Ron Brown said about 2500 people from across the country were expected to descend on Newcastle Jockey Club for the three day festival, which kicked off with a sold out Friday night concert featuring Canadian musician James Hill.
Mr Brown said the Hunter caught the fever about the portable instrument about four years ago, largely thanks to former member of The Castanet Club Mark Jackson and his partner Jane Jelbart, who have established ukestras across the region to help adults and school students form connections and create community.
‘‘Their energy and enthusiasm has been responsible for the ukulele’s growth in popularity,’’ Mr Brown said.
‘‘Other groups are now involved and we see the ukulele played in our region’s nursing homes and by musicians welcoming cruise ship passengers to the city.’’
Mr Brown said while most Australian children learn the recorder in school, playing the ukulele allows budding musicians to sing at the same time.
‘‘It’s fairly easy to start to learn,’’ he said.
MIc Conway It’s Only A Paper Moon ‘‘You can strum an open chord without knowing where to put your fingers and can play a lot of songs – including the modern classics– with just three chords.
‘‘People say you can’t play a sad note on the ukulele.’’
Festival entry is $5 on Saturday and Sunday, with a continuous program of performances, market stalls, a free beginners workshop and other paid workshops.
Tickets to the Saturday night concert featuring The Pockets, Sam and Lucy Lemann, Tyrone and Leslie and James Hill includes day admission.
‘‘Visitors will be amazed at what people can do with this instrument – even the virtuosos like James Hill perform with a lot of humour, they have fun with it.’’
The festival runs 9.30am to 11pm Saturday, 9.30am to 6pm Sunday. www.newkulelefestival杭州龙凤论坛m.au.
The Newcastle and Hunter Valley Folk Club meets at 7.30pm on the first Saturday of the month at the Wesley Hall, Beaumont Street, Hamilton.