The ukulele is a musical Rorschach test. With its small body and four strings, the understated instrument also offers musicians of all stripes a broad palette with which to freely express themselves, be it traditional, experimental, or something in-between.
Here at Swallow Hill Music we’re downright giddy to let you know the broad range of music encompassed by the ukulele will be on full display at the 12th Annual Denver Ukefest. This year the festival takes place Thursday, May 9, through Saturday, May 11.
Kelsey Wilson & Alexander Beggins of Wild Child headline the Friday night concert in Daniels Hall at Swallow Hill as a duo. Making their Denver Ukefest debut, Kelsey and Alexander’s musical paths crossed nearly ten years ago when they discovered their songwriting chemistry while on tour in another artist’s backing band. Serendipitously, Alexander brought his uke on tour with him, and the instrument played a key role in getting Wild Child off the ground. Joining them on Friday night is Troy Fernandez, the legendary Hawaiian artist who first rose to fame as a member of the Ka’au Crater Boys, and longtime Ukefest favorite Stuart Fuchs.
Prior to the concert, Troy will hold a workshop to whet the appetites of festival goers for what is to come.
While there is not a Denver Ukefest Hall of Fame (yet), Aldrine Guerrero would undoubtedly belong in its inaugural class. Aldrine will be on hand for most of the weekend, but his moment to shine and shred truly happens Saturday night as he headlines that night’s concert to close out the festival. The dynamic sounds of “one-woman” band Victoria Vox, and The Council, featuring Swallow Hill instructors John Nash and Casey Cormier, round out Saturday night’s concert lineup.
Saturday night’s concerts follow what promises to be a full day of ukulele workshop offerings from Swallow Hill instructors, that weekend’s performers, and more friendly faces familiar for regular attendees of Denver Ukefest.
The festival kicks off Thursday evening at The Brew On Broadway with the traditional gathering of the ukes. An Open Stage and jam will allow attendees to show off their skills as well as join musically as a community.
Festival passes and concert tickets go on sale for Swallow Hill Music members and previous festival attendees on Thursday, February 21 at 6:30 p.m. Passes and tickets go on sale for the general public on Friday, February 22 at 10 a.m.
FESTIVAL PASS PRICES
VIP – $140 member, $145 non-member
Festival – $115 member, $120 non-member
Fri Concert + Workshop – $37 member, $42 non-member
Fri Concert – $26 member, $31 non-member
Sat Concert – $26 member, $31 non-member
Saturday All Day – $80 member, $85 non-member
FESTIVAL EVENT DETAILS
Thursday, May 9 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 10 at Swallow Hill Music:
7:30pm concert (Doors 6:45pm) – Kelsey Wilson & Alexander Beggins of Wild Child, Troy Fernandez (of Ka’au Crater Boys), Stuart Fuchs
Workshop with Troy Fernandez from 5:30-6:30pm
Saturday, May 11 at Swallow Hill Music:
7:30pm concert (Doors 6:30pm) – Aldrine, Victoria Vox, The Council
Workshops – 10am-5pm, Open Stage – 5-6:30pm
Whether you are new to the ukulele 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 intertwining fun, learning, and community.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Kelsey Wilson & Alexander Beggins of Wild Child
Kelsey Wilson and Alexander Beggins are the founders and creative energy behind Austin indie ensemble Wild Child. The pair met nearly 10 years ago while touring in the back-up band for a band called The Migrant. During downtime on the tour Kelsey and Alexander discovered they worked well together as songwriting partners.
Alexander had a uke with him as they wrote their first batch of songs, making the instrument an integral part of their songwriting process and sound.
Now they are well into their career as part of the seven member Wild Child. Denver Ukefest is excited to welcome Kelsey, vocals and violin, and Alexander, ukulele and vocals, as a duo to Daniels Hall for a set of music no ukulele – or Wild Child – fan will want to miss.
Aldrine Guerrero is a dynamic `ukulele player from the island of Kaua’i. Originally from the Philippines, Aldrine started out at local Kauai coffee shops and churches and has since gone on to stages that range from coast to coast in the continental US to international performances. His style of ukulele has been spread throughout the world through live performances and through the streams of YouTube; gaining 28,000 subscribers to his channel that has accumulated over 7 and a half million views.
Aldrine is also one of the founding fathers of Ukulele Underground alongside Aaron Nakamura and Ryan Esaki. Ukulele Underground was created in 2007 with the goal of growing the next generation of ukulele players around the world by providing quality video ukulele lessons for songs and techniques, a pool of knowledge from the largest community of ukulele players on the internet, and access to some of the most valuable resources in ukulele.
Troy Fernandez (of Ka’au Crater Boys)
With just one lick you’ll recognize him – Troy Fernandez!
With a voice as sweet as his ukulele picking, the Na Hoku Hanohano award winner became highly acclaimed as a solo artist after establishing himself among the ranks of Hawaii’s top entertainers for his work in the Ka’au Crater Boys. Troy continued to innovate and electrify his fans with his solo releases such as the Hawaiian Style Ukulele series, and Ride Time.
Of his time with the Ka‘au Crater Boys, Ukulele Magazine wrote: “Between 1991 and 1997, the Ka‘au Crater Boys rode a wave of success that earned them a Na Hoku Hanohano Award for Best Contemporary Album in 1995, for On Fire. Brimming with youthful energy, the duo’s songs conveyed the wonder of the islands and the ocean, and often the intensity of romantic love. Fernandez’s embellishments on the ukulele—roller-coaster scales, cascades of thirds, thrilling tremolos—showcased the instrument to a new generation.”
Though it’s been over 20 years since their break up, Troy continues to thrill fans as a solo artist. His latest album, Island Classics, showcases his stellar versatility as an award winning ukulele master, vocalist, composer and collaborator as he performs eleven popular covers including “Maui Hawaiian Super Man,” “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” and “Island Style,” and Troy originals, “Haleiwa,” “Surfer from Palolo,” and “TNC.”
Victoria Vox is a ‘ukulele-toting award-winning songwriter and performer. With a passion for songwriting since she was 10, she studied at the Berklee College of Music, and in 2003 she took up the ukulele as her main accompaniment. Since the release of her first ukulele album in 2006, Victoria has been one of the leading songwriters on the ukulele scene. She straddles into the folk scene as well, where she has opened for Jackson Browne, Tom Chapin, Leo Kottke, and Cheryl Wheeler. She performs mostly as a one-woman-band, incorporating a loop pedal and bass effect on her ukulele, while taking her own solos (on mouth-trumpet), and cutting through it all with her genuine lyrics and pure voice.
Stuart Fuchs is a Grammy-nominated multi instrumentalist, recording artist, sound healer, and an innovative and compassionate teacher. He is a lifelong minstrel and plays a wide variety of styles of music on acoustic guitar and ukulele including folk, classical, jazz, rock, experimental, sacred and world music. He also plays Latin percussion, Bolivian charango, Australian didgeridoo, Native American flute, Tibetan singing bowls, and yes – hunting calls and amplified toys.
Stuart has been called a “modern day pied piper” by the Buffalo News, and travels the world spreading musical joy through spontaneous and scheduled acts of melodic kindness. Have you ever been treated to a spontaneous serenade at an airport gate or in the waiting room of a doctor’s office? If you heard soulful and peaceful refrains coming from a smiling ukulele player, that was probably Stu.
The Council brings together the unique and unconventional sound of ukulele, banjo, and upright bass. Each member is an innovator and uses their unique approach on their instrument to push the boundaries and conventions of acoustic music. Soulful and progressive, moody and ethereal, The Council creates music that dares you to listen beyond your expectations.
The Council is John Nash on ukulele, Casey Cormier on upright Bass, and Nick Einterz on banjo.