“When I get onstage, people may not take me seriously at first. So when I play, the wow factor is much more extreme,” ukulele sensation Taimane told Ukulele in 2015. “It’s very satisfying seeing their misconceptions get blown out of the water.”
In many ways Taimane could be speaking just as easily about her instrument. While understated and perhaps disarming, the ukulele is the little instrument with a big heart, and in the right hands, a big sound.
Uke enthusiasts will not only get to see Taimane’s explosive live show, but engage with the ukulele in many musical settings at the 11th Annual Denver Ukefest, which runs May 10-12, 2018.
This year Swallow Hill Music is proud to present many first time Denver Ukefest performers, including the aforementioned Taimaine, Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer, Craig Chee & Sarah Maisel, and more.
The festival kicks off Thursday evening, May 10 with an Open Stage at The Brew On Broadway in Englewood. This gathering of the ukes will set the tone for a fun-filled weekend of uke-inspired music and community.
On Friday, May 11, the festival moves to Swallow Hill, highlighted by a concert headlined by Waikiki’s high-energy, genre-bending uke supernova Taimane, and two-time Grammy Award winners Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer. Christopher Davis-Shannon, who is also performing, will hold a workshop prior to the concert.
Saturday, May 12, the fest kicks into full gear with a day full of workshops, and community events such as an Open Stage and a strum-along will prime festival-goers for that evening’s concert featuring Craig Chee & Sarah Maisel, Gerald Ross and the Swallow Hill Uke Ensemble.
Festival passes and concert tickets are on sale now.
Thursday, May 10 at The Brew on Broadway
7pm Ukefest Kickoff Party
This open stage and jam is open to all to participate or just listen!
Friday, May 11 at Swallow Hill Music
7:30pm concert (Doors 6:30pm) – Taimane, Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer, Christopher Davis-Shannon
Workshop with Christopher Davis-Shannon from 5:15-6:15pm
Saturday, May 12 at Swallow Hill Music
7:30pm concert (Doors 6:30pm) – Craig Chee & Sarah Maisel, Gerald Ross, Swallow Hill Uke Ensemble
Workshops – 10am-5pm, Open Stage – 5-6:30pm
Whether you are new to the uke or an advanced player, Ukefest’s workshops run the gamut from honing your basic skills to breaking down musical barriers to add your personal stamp to how you play the uke. Featuring workshops by Swallow Hill Music instructors as well as those performing on the festival’s concert stages, our workshops tie the festival together by tying fun, learning and community together.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Taimaine is a hugely talented and much in demand ukulele player who has been strumming away since she was five years old. It was in and around her native Waikiki that she used to play the ukulele where she was eventually spotted by acclaimed singer Don Ho. Don immediately snapped up Taimaine and had her playing his show, and since then her stardom has only continued to grow.
Taimane has the ability to morph genres from classical – Beethoven – to rock – Led Zeppelin – to flamenco, all the while she takes her instrument where few others can.
CATHY FINK & MARCY MARXER
Two-time Grammy Award-winners Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer are master musicians with a career spanning over 35 years. Their superb harmonies are backed by instrumental virtuosity on many instrumental configurations, including ukulele. An eclectic folk festival on their own terms, their repertoire ranges from classic country to western swing, gypsy jazz to bluegrass, and old-time string band to contemporary folk including some original gems. Their versatility defies a brief description. Perhaps “well rounded Americana” does it best.
Christopher Davis-Shannon’s music is the essence of honest simplicity. Bringing together influence ranging from Fats Waller to Chet Baker, he creates an atmosphere that will instantly transport you back to jazz clubs, and speakeasies of the early 20th century. Not Content being labelled a traditionalist, he forges ahead breathing new life into old classics, weaving together a sound that is enjoyed by both young and old.
CRAIG CHEE & SARAH MAISEL
Even though Craig Chee was born and raised on Oahu, his uke skills matured on the mainland. Craig infuses his energetic and just plain “fun” style into many genres of music and is known for his collaborations at different music events. Sarah Maisel, meanwhile, discovered the ukulele in San Diego. She discovered a fascination for both the the instrument and the joy that surrounded it. Sarah found a passion of teaching and performing with the ‘ukulele and was quickly featured at many ‘ukulele festivals around the world.
Craig and Sarah discovered a similar passion and work ethic and as of September, 2015 are now married! They have made an incredible splash in the ‘ukulele scene with their complementing styles and vocal harmonies.
Gerald Ross is comfortable with just about every type of “roots” music there is, from western swing, bluegrass, Hawaiian, blues, jug band music, jazz standards, Tin Pan Alley, New Orleans rhythms to boogie-woogie, and he plays it on multiple instruments, including the ukulele. Today Gerald is recognized as one of America’s best-known performers, entertainers and advocates for the ukulele.
SWALLOW HILL UKE ENSEMBLE
Led by Swallow Hill uke instructor Casey Cormier, this ensemble comprised of Swallow Hill students and enthusiasts embodies the spirit of the festival in that audience and performers alike can share the same stage under the banner of the ukulele.