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Festival Held For Increasingly Popular Ukulele

09:01 AM Monday 7/18/11 | |

When Roy Sakuma first rounded up ukulele players for a festival at a Waikiki Park, he gathered 50 musicians and had an audience of 100.

This year, some four decades later, 900 people strummed and plucked their wooden four-string instruments in front of several thousand people lounging on benches and under tents on a sunny day at Kapiolani Park.

“That sweetness and charm of this instrument, just attracts you,” said Sakuma, on the sidelines of the 41st Annual Ukulele Festival on Sunday.

The players ranged from novice five-year-olds attending Sakuma’s ukulele schools on Oahu to stars like Jake Shimabukuro, who first performed at the event as a child decades ago.

The musicians were also international, including artists from Thailand, Italy, South Korea, and the U.S. mainland.

  • Jake Shimabukuro

    Performing at the 41st Annual Ukulele Festival in Honolulu.
    July 17, 2011

    (AP Photo)

    | 

Sakuma said many people have long failed to take the ukulele seriously because they thought it was a toy. But he said that’s changing as more people encounter it.

Mainstream artists, like Eddie Vedder, the leader singer of the band Pearl Jam, have taken up it up. Vedder was recently been on tour to promote his solo album, Ukulele Songs.

Shimabukuro, who is in Hawaii only briefly between U.S. mainland and Japanese tours, said Internet sites like the video sharing service YouTube are helping spread the popularity of the kulele.


Comments

  1. jaredoliveira wrote:

    12:18 PM, Jul 18, 2011

    People don't take the ukulele seriously not because they think it's a toy but because of Tiny Tim. A keyboard is a toy. But if it weren't for the keyboard, the Black Eyed Peas would not have a career. (P.S. Jake Shimabukuro is amazing and he should be taken seriously. Eddie Vedder's album is a joke compared to what Jake has done for the instrument)



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