The third annual Rocky Mountain UkeFest is coming up July 7 through 9, and it will be a weekend packed with workshops, open mic sessions and ukuleles.
Lots of ukuleles.
This year’s festival will be based out of Fort Lewis College, with events being held at various venues around Durango.
“Everything we need is there” on campus, says Denise Leslie, director of the festival, adding that the Mainstage Theatre building at FLC has just the right amount of workshop space and a theater for performances.
As for activities downtown, Leslie says there will an open jam at the Rochester’s Secret Garden – and the hula girls are returning.
There will also be a ukulele open mic night at Animas City Theatre on July 7 that is free and open to the public.
This year, the fest is also offering a teacher training/leadership training on July 9 for teachers who are incorporating ukuleles into their music programs. There will be two workshops available for them, and those interested have until July 7 to register.
“Those are for anyone starting a ukulele group and wanting to lead it, to a teacher wanting to teach their kids how to play the ukulele,” Leslie says.
Festivals like this are important, Leslie says, because the ukulele deserves more credit than it sometimes gets.
“It’s a jokester kind of instrument; it makes you smile. But it can also be a very serious and complicated instrument that a musician can just really create some beautiful music on,” she says. “And just to see us do different kinds of music; it’s not just ‘You Are My Sunshine’ and ‘Keep on the Sunny Side.’ It can be tango music or it can be some Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Born in the USA.’ We even do a little AC/DC, or Queen, we’ve got ABBA … and that way, you get everybody and every generation. It’s really just fun to explore.”