The Cairns Ukulele Festival and Cairns Festival have teamed up in an effort to extend music-making across the region by establishing the “Mobile Ukulele Unit”.
The idea began with a conversation between Cairns Festival producer, Eric Holowacz, and Ukulele Festival founder, Gaby Thomasz. “We were brainstorming and came up with the notion of a mobile unit, ready to dispatch with ukuleles, an instructor, and an assortment of great songs,” explains Holowacz. “And then we added ideas like a marching ukulele brigade for parades, a spontaneous 100-member ukulele flash mob, and even a mass ukulele welcome for visitors and dignitaries arriving at the airport or cruise ship terminal.”
After its debut at the 2011 Cairns Ukulele Festival, July 1-3, the new Far North Ukulele Unit will be available for community projects, libraries, schools, Indigenous groups, to request a music workshop over the coming year. The Ukulele Unit will also be dispatched to festivals and major events in the Far North, offering workshops, spontaneous “learn to play” sessions, and encouraging group music-making.
To get things going, Thomasz has planned two upcoming workshops for the community, in advance of the Cairns Ukulele Festival and the July 2 world record attempt of ‘largest ukulele ensemble’.
The Mobile Ukulele Unit will offer free sessions at Billy’s Coffee on Wednesday June 29 at 11am and Thursday June 30 at 6pm. The workshops are open to everyone, and will be led by Australian ukulele legend and music educator, Mike Jackson (author of the best-selling book, Uke ‘n Play Ukulele).
Participants will be instructed in the basics, learn the world 2011 record attempt song, Iko Iko, and be provided with a ukulele to use for the workshop and the July 2 record breaking event.
“Over July and August, we hope to keep growing the participation base, and build a new musical component for the Cairns Festival Grand Parade on Sunday 21 August,” says Holowacz. “And if it all goes to plan, the Far North Mobile Ukulele Unit Marching Brigade will make its debut as a 100 member musical force playing its way down the Esplanade.”