Starting out from modest beginnings, the Sussex Ukulele Festival returns to the Ropetackle Centre in Shoreham.
Now in its fourth outing, the festival will be on September 11 from 11.30am-6.30pm – a celebration of an increasingly-popular instrument.
Last year the festival attracted more than 300 people, and with the ever-increasing popularity of the instrument, this year’s festival has been expanded to include a wide range of groups and artists.
The festival has a basic philosophy of promoting the ukulele to all abilities and making it accessible to all.
The festival is free entry and will have lots of opportunities to join in by playing along.
Five different groups will play in the foyer encouraging you to join. Copies of the music will be available on the day.
In the auditorium, Sara Spade will headline. Other acts include Corner Laughers, Scandomando and The Richwoods who all feature the ukulele in their line-ups.
The local Woodards Academy will kick off the festival with Uke at the Duke attempting to recreate the Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album later in the day. Workshops for beginners and more advanced players complete the day.
For Sara, the date is the latest chapter following on from the release of Boy Next Door, effectively her launch album a couple of years ago.
As she explains: “It’s different music to what I did before. Before I was playing the guitar, and the music was very different.
“And then I met somebody with a ukulele about four or five years ago.
“At the time I was thinking that I wanted to write more upbeat music, music that would make people want to dance, music that would make people feel happy.
“The music I wrote before using a guitar was a bit more mellow, sometimes a little bit introspective, sometimes a little bit melancholic.
“I had fans, and I enjoyed doing it, but I just wanted to create a positive vibration on stage, something more danceable.”
The ukulele was the key.
As Sara says, the ukulele has outsold all other instruments by a big margin for several years now.
It has had periods where it has been incredibly popular, and it has had periods where it has been much less so, but certainly at the moment the ukulele is on a high.
“It seems to become popular during financial hardship or wartime. It’s very light-hearted.”
In fact, it comes with all the possible advantages you could possibly ever want.
“It’s light to carry, and it’s very egalitarian. Everyone can have a go.”
More information about the Sussex Ukulele Festival coming up in Shoreham, see www.ukulelefestivalsussex.co.uk.
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