The Cairns Ukulele Festival is delighted to bring to Australia a true legend of Hawaiian music, ukulele player and singer Bryan Tolentino (pictured). A self taught ukulele player from the island of O’ahu, he started playing the ukulele at the age of 10. At the age of 12, his best friend Asa Young first introduced him to playing Hawaiian music on the ‘ukulele. Early influences were the musical groups, “The Son’s of Hawai’i” and “The Sunday Mānoa.” The friends formed a band with Delwin Beazley and Chris Kamaka, The Side Order Band. They have performed together ever since those high school days, and it was in this formation that festival organiser Gaby Thomasz saw Bryan perform in Los Angeles recently. Excited about the prospect of bringing this brand of Hawaiian ukulele music to Australia, the two started talking about this year’s festival.
“Although I had been aware of Bryan for many years, seeing him perform live really struck a chord with me (pardon the pun). Moreover, Bryan is one of the most humble musicians you can meet. He’s a beautiful player, a great entertainer, funny, and a nice guy to boot! I’m so pleased to have him at the festival as we have not featured the style of Hawaiian music that he plays before, and it’s about time we did! Not only that, for this performance, Bryan will be accompanied by an amazing Hawaiian guitarist and falsetto singer Hale Seabury from the legendary band ‘Na Hoa’. Lovers of Hawaiian and world music will be in for a treat!”.
Bryan and Hale will be performing on Green Island during the Great Adventures Ukulele Island Gig (July 4th) and on Sunday during the finale concert evening (July 7th). Bryan will also conduct Hawaiian ukulele playing workshops.
Bryan plays Kamaka ukuleles. Make sure you check them out at the festival!
The Cairns Ukulele Festival is delighted to introduce to the Far North 5-piece party band Flap! featuring Jess Guille on banjo-ukulele and vocals, Eamon McNelis on trumpet and vocals, Mark Elton on double bass, Ben Hendry on Drums, and Donald Stewart on trombone.
From Melbourne, Australia, Flap! play original music that is both old and new, inspired by the entire human diaspora. You can hear influences from 1920’s jazz, Gypsy brass, English Folk to Trinidadian Calypso, and ska, all blended into a highly danceable exciting mix of music. They are, in their own words, “a fiery yet charming five piece band of brass, guts, words and skins who crank out up-tempo songs, turning ordinary shoes into dancing ones”.
Currently on tour with Cat Empire, Flap! is no stranger to the Australian and European festival circuits (in fact, the band was formed during a festival, playing their first gig in Denmark!), leaving audiences gasping for breath everywhere they go. They’ll be playing Cairns for the first time, as part of a huge line-up of national and international ukulele royalty.
The Ukulele Party Night is held Saturday July 6th at The Union Jack.
For more info and tickets, please follow this link
Craig Chee returns to Cairns!
Craig Chee, originally from Hawaii, but now hailing from Oregon, has become a true member of the Cairns Ukulele Festival family with his boisterous laugh, party attitude, and of course his fantastic musicianship! Over the years, we have seen Craig grow as a performer and we look forward to seeing what he’s cooked up for this year’s gigs, particularly with Sarah with whom he’s been working on some very special musical surprises!
Craig will be performing during the Eddy Finn Ukulele Mystery Tour (see below) with Sarah Maisel and others, and with his band during the Ukulele Party Night, held Saturday 6th July at the Union Jack.
A note from Craig on his return to Cairns:
“I cannot believe how fast time flies. My first trip to Cairns [in 2011] was very special. That was when I decided I was going to dedicate myself to music. Music will be my job 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Every decision will be made towards that goal. Looking back it seems it wasn’t much of a choice as I’ve been working toward that conclusion my whole life but in the moment, it was the scariest and most exciting point in my life.
I am overjoyed to be returning again to Cairns. I’ve been working on some very special surprises with other performers. Expect bigger this year. I’m sure we will expand on all the great things that worked out in previous and experiment with new ones! The staff has shown year after year that they are determined to put on a great event and have been incredibly successful thus far. For repeat attendees, expect more. As you have grown as musicians, so have we as instructors. As your ears have been soaking in more lovely ukulele music, we have been honing our craft and expanded on our skill sets. I promise you will see many more unique collaborations this year. I also promise that Sarah Maisel will bake you cookies. Well… maybe not but you will fall in love with her (and her music!).”
Eddy Finn Ukulele Mystery Tour
Sarah Maisel and Craig Chee will be hosting the Eddy Finn Ukulele Mystery Tour. Join them, and other festival artists, on this crazy double decker bus tour, taking in the sights around Cairns, listening to concerts, jamming, meeting other festival go-ers and more! For more information and to book your seat on this tour, follow this link. Tickets sold out last year in no-time so book your spot today!
The Cairns Ukulele Festival is extremely proud to be hosting another 2-day ukulele building workshop, facilitated by the good guys from KoAloha Ukuleles, Hawaii!
KoAloha ukulele similar to the one you’ll be building
Established by Alvin Okami in the mid-nineties, KoAloha is one of the most respected ukulele brands in the world, known for their craftmanship, tone and also unique aesthetics. Many of our ukulele festival performers play KoAloha, including Daniel Ho and Herb Ohta Jr. Alvin’s sons Alan and Paul Okami will be conducting this workshop with KoAloha master builder “Griz”, giving you the exclusive opportunity to gain a rare insight into the ukulele building process, ukulele set-up, with the added bonus of owning your custom built KoAloha ukulele at the end of it!
This workshop is designed for absolute beginners, people with little or no woodworking experience, and is suitable for ages 10 and over (under 14′s need to be supervised by an adult). The wood used is Hawaiian koa and mahogany for the neck, your choice between a soprano or concert scale neck.
Ukulele building classes are great fun and allow you to learn new skills, make new friends, and also offer a great opportunity for parents and children to undertake an activity together during the school holidays. This is a unique way to build your own top notch ukulele under tutelage of Hawaiian experts!
Dates: Wednesday 3 July and Thursday 4 July
For more info, follow this link