by Greta Yeoman
Italian, Australian and Kiwi ukulele players will converge on Geraldine next month.
The Geraldine UkeFest returns to the town in July for its seventh year, creating a multi-day celebration of the four-stringed instrument.
While the festival programme does not officially begin until Friday afternoon, there is plenty going on beforehand, including an afternoon jam session on the Wednesday afternoon.
A 4pm show on Thursday, July 18, will include a wide variety of uke-playing musicians, including The Jazzuleles, from Australia; B’n’T, from Geraldine; Christchurch’s Angelfish; Ol’ Guts, from Taranaki; and the Fox Street Funomenon, from Clyde.
While not headlining the show this year, Wellington’s Shane McAlister is back again.
He will play at the Thursday afternoon show, as well hosting a strum-along/open mic session that evening.
The festival’s official opening night concert will be held on the evening of Friday, July 19, at the Geraldine Primary School hall.
Performers will include Australia’s Shirley-Ann Rowley; Tansy Kerrisk, from Clyde; Dunedin’s The Valley Chicks; David Powdrell, from Nelson; and Christchurch’s Secret Lives of Ukulele, as well as Geraldine locals Abbi Collins and Lorina Harding.
Saturday morning’s activities will include a children’s workshop with headliner and award-winning children’s musician Anna van Riel.
Festival favourite The Big Strum will return on the Saturday afternoon, led by festival organisers Hugh and Fi McCafferty.
The 90-minute strum-along has been attended by more than 300 ukulele players in previous years.
Other activities include workshops, strum-alongs, the Ukes in Cafes sessions, open mic sessions and concerts.
Workshops will include ukulele blues music, being a self-managed musician, songwriting, making YouTube videos and beginner ukulele playing.
Italian musician Lorenzo Vignando (Ukulollo) will headline The Big Concert on Saturday evening, along with Anna van Riel, and New South Wales duo Lea and Adam Johnson, who perform as Ohana.
The festival will also get into a gospel mood on the Sunday morning as a uke-based gospel music, hymns and spiritual songs will become a strum-along church service, led by the McCaffertys.