The Boulder Acoustic Society's Aaron Keim, one of the organizers of today's first Colorado Ukulele Festival, loves the uke for reasons that have everything to do with simplicity.
"Because it's a modest instrument, with just four strings, when you perform a piece of music, there's little to dress it up or make it fancy," he says. As a bonus, "it really brings people together. Put too many guitar players in a room and they're going to compete with each other. Put a bunch of ukulele players in a room and they'll all sing songs and play together."
This theory will be put to the test at the festival, which features Keim's group and a slew of other uke aficionados, including Del Rey at the Uke Shack, Lil' Rev, Zebra Junction, Ukulele Loki and the Gadabout Orchestra and Denver's own Ukulele Orchestra. Keim stresses that plenty of other instruments will be heard, too: "It's a great event for people who love all kinds of music, whether they're ukulele fans or not." Still, he hopes to win over doubters. "The ukulele is something you can take to quickly, but you can play it your whole life and never get to the limits of what you can do on it," he says. "That's one of the reasons it's fun: the paradox."
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The fest begins at 9 a.m. at Swallow Hill Music Hall, 71 East Yale Avenue. Tickets range from $20 for an individual concert to a $130 VIP pass. Learn more at 303-777-1003 or www.swallowhillmusic.org.
Sat., Feb. 9, 9-1 a.m., 2008