Pluck You!

The humble ukulele has come a long way since the days of Tiny Tim. A folk instrument for the people, it's recently turned up in high-profile recordings by such mainstream artists as Jack Johnson, Eddie Vedder and Denver's own Danielle Ate the Sandwich, who has elevated the simple art of uke-strumming to an indie-cult phenomenon.

Swallow Hill Music Association has been on the uke beat since 2008, when it celebrated the first annual Denver UkeFest with just under 200 faithful fans. This year, more than 1,200 players, pluckers and patrons will participate in the three-day UkeFest, which starts today and will sprawl across several music-friendly Denver venues, including the Wynkoop Brewing Company, the L2 Arts & Culture Center and the Oriental Theater.

"The ukulele is an instrument that is accessible to nearly everyone. It's small and easy to learn, and a lot of fun to play," says Swallow Hill's Lindsay Taylor, who notes that Denver's celebration is the fourth largest in the world. "People are traveling across state lines to come to the festival."

Denver's UkeFest will feature performances by Nellie McKay, Aldrine Guerrero, Tina and Her Pony, Hapa Hillbillies, Jake Shimabukuro with the Quiet American, the Denver Uke Community and more, as well as classes and jams open to all. Go to www.swallowhillmusic.org for the full schedule, as well as information on festival passes.
May 17-19, 2012

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