Music Festival Uke days

Strum a little 'Don Ho Gold' or 'Ram On' for rock's most underappreciated instrument

Others might argue for the Theremin or electric sitar, but you could make a solid case that the most underappreciated instrument in rock is the ukulele.

Brian Wilson included it in his Smile opus; Pete Townshend strummed one on "Blue, Red and Grey," from the Who's 1975 album The Who Sell Out; Paul McCartney did the same for his 1971 track "Ram On"; McCartney's erstwhile bandmate, George Harrison, was an obsessive ukulele collector who opened his version of the Harold Arlen classic "The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea" with a uke solo; and, on the local front, Buttercup kicked out the jams at this year's SXSW with their uke-powered "Johnny Appleseed."

Two years ago, San Antonio's annual Ukulele Festival got a jolt of the instrument's thunderous rocking potential when a young virtuoso took the stage and ripped into Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode." Joyce Flaugher, the festival's organizer, spent much of her life in Hawaii and her tastes run in a decidedly more traditional direction: She values the uke as accompaniment to the hula, which she studied for years. But her love for this tiny four-stringed axe is unqualifed, and she welcomes the occasional left turns that the festival takes.

4th Annual Ukulele Festival

Thu-Sat, Apr 14-16
Lion's Field Adult and Senior Center
2809 Broadway
Flaugher offers lessons at Lion's Field Adult and Senior Center, and in a way this festival - which we'll call "Uke Stock," or "Electric Uke," for the handful of Debbie Gibson diehards out there - is simply an extension of what she and her uke brigade do all year. There will be a free introductory workshop on Thursday, April 14, from 9:30-11:30 a.m. The Ukulele Ladies and Gents of San Antonio will perform a lunchtime concert that day at El Mercado, with a reception that night at Lion's Field.

Friday and Saturday will offer a host of daytime workshops from the likes of Pops Bayless, Deb Porter, Geoff Davis, and Flaugher herself. Friday concludes with a performance from 7-9 p.m., while Saturday's events wrap up with the Eighth Annual Alamo Aloha Fiesta at Lou Hamilton Community Center. Regardless of your musical biases, for one weekend at least, the uke must be served.

By Gilbert Garcia


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