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Getting Ready For A "Big Uke Out"

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
big Uke Out.jpg
big Uke Out.jpg

20 OCTOBER 2008 - With ukulele fever sweeping through the country the organisers of this year's festival have had to relocate to a bigger venue to accommodate the exponential growth in players and fans of the humble ukulele or "jumping flea" as it translates in Hawaiian.

Auckland's Mt Smart Stadium, more used to hosting international rock stars, is the new home for the festival, which promises to top the phenomenal success of last year's inaugural event.

An excess of 1000 players will be strumming and singing at the concert where local groups will feature alongside international ukulele virtuosos such as Australian Azo Bell and Rarotongan Chuck Upu.

But the main act will be The Kiwileles, a massed ukulele orchestra made up of ukulele groups from over thirty Auckland schools. No doubt a highlight for them will be performing She's a Mod with iconic New Zealand entertainer Ray Columbus.

"We predict this will be the largest gathering of ukulele players ever so we are thinking of getting validated by the Guinness Book of Records," says festival organiser Kevin Fogarty.

What started as an initiative headed by Fogarty and Mike Chunn's Play it Strange Trust to get more New Zealand children playing and song writing, ukulele playing has not only taken off in schools but also exploded beyond the classroom into the community. It seems that parents want to have a slice of the fun as well.

Ukulele groups are sprouting up everywhere with this year's festival hosting The Teachukes, The Nukes, Waikato's The Big Muffin Serious Band, The Dukes of Uke and Foganupu and from Napier, Ruatika.

Ukulele acts from Australia and the U.S. will also be in the line‐up.

The Play It Strange Trust is a major sponsor and advocate of the festival, having funded the supply of over 1000 ukuleles to schools.

So why is ukulele fever sweeping through our communities? Fogarty thinks it's the feel good factor. "With only three chords under your belt you can join a group and be strumming along with a band of strangers. Before you know it they are your new best friends!"

Tenyearold Olivia has a different point of view: " I play my uke in my room when I am mad at my parents and it helps me calm down." So it seems that playing the ukulele could be good for your health. It may even lower your stress levels! At around $39 dollars that's cheaper than a visit to the G.P. The NZ UKULELE FESTIVAL at Mt Smart Stadium in November will be just the place to go to get your prescription.

The NZ UKULELE FESTIVAL 2008 A day of concerts, demonstrations, workshops, food stalls, competitions international and local acts. FREE ENTRY Mt Smart Stadium Auckland 22 November 10 a.m. - 4 p. m.

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