Dubbed ‘Bigger than Benhur’ it’s no surprise that Australian ukulele artist Benhur’s upcoming performances at the 2012 Cairns Ukulele Festival will be something special!
Queensland-based musician Benhur Helwend first picked up a ukulele because of its inherent comedy appeal, but quickly realised the little instrument had much, much more potential. “Around 2004 I worked as a Clown Doctor in various children’s wards around Australia,” he explained. “I wanted to use singing as part of my act so I wanted an instrument that was cute, childish and simple to carry from ward to ward. The ukulele was perfect!”
Soon enough, the Darwin-born performer was hooked. He formed a Hawaiian-influenced uke band, worked alongside Australian ukulele virtuoso Azo Bell, made it to the short-list for X Factor, and the APRA stage of the Byron Bay Bluesfest. He also made it to the semi-finals of Australia’s Got Talent with his then band ‘Blackbirds’. Along the way, he also played at 526 weddings.
And now, to add another achievement to an already long list, Benhur is travelling from his home in Byron to make his debut at the third annual festival, which runs from July 5 to July 8. The performer will star in the exciting aNueNue Australian Ukulele Showcase, to be held at the Hilton Hotel Ballroom on July 6, starting at 6.30pm.
For the show, he is teaming up with another ukulele expert, Brisbane-based Cath McCourt. “The performance is an acoustic blend of covers, simply arranged with twinkles of ukulele and two part harmony,” he explained. “No bells or whistles – just music for your pleasure!”
For Benhur – his real name, by the way – the continuing success of the Cairns Ukulele Festival is very important, because it demonstrates very publically the enduring appeal of an instrument often derided and belittled. “I love that there are many others as obsessed – if not more obsessed – with the wonderful ukulele. We have come a long way from the days of Tiny Tim!”
The aNueNue Australian Ukulele Showcase takes place Friday July 6th in the Cairns Hilton Ballroom and starts at 6.30pm. The showcase features 6 acts from around the country. Entry is by donation. For more information about the showcase and other featured acts, please follow this link.
If you haven’t booked your accommodation yet, or don’t feel like driving home after this big night, book a nice room in the Hilton! Click here for directions and more hotel information and mention the festival when making a booking for a deal!