Fun's in the music at Uke-fest

Feb. 26, 2011

The ukulele is not the guitar's little brother.

The "uke" possesses its own power, as the third annual Gorge Ukulele Festival demonstrates each March in Hood River.

This year's array of concerts, workshops and musical events takes place March 2-5 at Hood River Middle School and other locations in Hood River. Classes, concerts and jam sessions inquire and express the pleasures of the ukulele, which run from the simple to the complex.

Things get warmed up on March 2 at 7 p.m. with an acoustic concert in The Dalles by ukulele maestra Victoria Vox (see details on A6).

The opening concert, featuring festival instructors and guest musicians, will be March 4 at 7 p.m. at the middle school.

"It's going to be a fun concert," said Char Mayer, who with her husband, Gordon, organizes the festival. "The instructors see each other throughout the year and share songs with each other and plan to play them at our festival. What you get are one-of-a-kind performances and everyone having a really good time with the music."

The lineup includes Kate Power and Steve Einhorn, Danielle Ate the Sandwich, Hood River's Moe Dixon, James Hill and Anne Davison, and Boulder Acoustic Society.

Proceeds from the festival support local school music programs. Last year, the concert raised $11,000, and helped purchase 150 ukuleles and paid for training for five teachers.

Other concerts next week will be the Uke Camp Instructor concert Saturday at 6 p.m. at The Pines Tasting Room; the event is free. A post-concert jam follows and is open to the public as well.

The Pines event will include Hood River's Hapa Hillbillies, and Dave Mullany, Craig Chee, Shelley O'Brien, Lil' Rev, Brook Adams, Ralph Shaw, and The Canotes, performers ranging from Eugene to Toronto, Ontario.

Lil' Rev gives a House Concert at 401 Montello Ave. on March 6, 7 p.m. Lil' Rev is a Wisconsin-based award-winning multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and music-historian.

"He has his audience in the palm of his hand from the very first note," Mayer said.

Gorge Ukulele Camp goes March 4-5, and classes are available for children 12 and under ($35 per class). See www.gorgeukeleles.org for full details.

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