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Counting down to UKESTOCK !

Press Release for immediate release 20 October 08

Counting down to UKESTOCK !

The New Zealand Ukulele Festival at Mt Smart Stadium next month, Saturday, November 22nd.

Counting Down to “Ukestock” With only a month to go until the NZ Ukulele Festival 2008 strums its first chord, organisers are pulling out all stops to ensure that potentially the world’s biggest gathering of ukulele players and fans will help chase away the country’s woes.

“It’ll be a uke-packed day of musical distraction to banish post election and recession blues!” promises the godfather of the Auckland ukulele scene and festival organiser Kevin Fogarty, whose uke-fit fingers served him well at the recent National Table Tennis champs winning him two gold medals.

Ukes rival AB’s Festival curtain raisers are underway with the new owners of the Gables Tavern in Auckland’s Herne Bay hosting one last Saturday. Uke groups from across Auckland and two from the very uke-friendly suburb of Grey Lynn- the Grey Lynn Garden Ukulele Band and The Grey Lynn Ukuladies strummed and sang the night away to a capacity crowd. “ We didn’t know quite what to expect but this was a bigger crowd than we pull in for an All Blacks test,” commented one exhausted Gables barman. Could the rising popularity of the humble ukulele be a threat to our national game?

Festival CD Another fundraising initiative is the recent release of the festival C. D. Ukulele Heaven. International and local artists have shared the love by generously donating tracks to support NZed’s uke-fest. The C. D. is on sale through the festival website and will be available for purchase on the day. So why does the festival need to raise funds? The New Zealand Ukulele Festival is a rare event on the entertainment calendar – it’s free!

A range of tastes catered for With international acts now confirmed punters can expect an eclectic musical feast. Debunking the common misconception that ukulele artists only play Hawaiian, headline acts such as the indie/punk Uni and her Ukulele from the U.S. will deliver the unexpected. Australian Azo Bell who describes the ukulele as " the most unthreatening thing you can make out of wood..." began his career as a jazz musician and is also a master of the musical saw. Sydney Morning Herald praised Bell for being “ both a virtuoso and highly imaginative improviser, (who) wrests some glorious sounds from his ukulele." 
He is coming to New Zealand with his band The Old Spice Boys who play unlikely interpretations of tunes from the likes of Bo Diddley, Ian Drury, Miles Davies and Prince. Pasifika musicians will also be a big part of the line-up with Cook Island virtuoso Chuck Upu, uke superman Sione Aleki –and Foganupu.

Mike on the mike: Veteran NZ musician Mike Chunn will be on the mike to M.C. the day. Mike has been pivotal in the drive to get ukuleles into the hands of New Zealand children. His Play It Strange Trust has already distributed hundreds to kiwi kids – and the reason the festival can proudly boast a performance by the largest ukulele band anywhere on record – the 1000 strong Kiwileles.

Have a go! And for those in the audience who want to join in there will be workshops for even the most musically challenged, instruments for sale and blackboard concerts throughout the day.

Could it happen to you ? Last years uke-fest-cam snapped Brett from the Flight of the Conchords adjusting his uke’s knobs at the festival. Organisers have not been slow in linking Brett’s appearance to his subsequent meteoric rise to international stardom. They can only speculate as to whom it will happen to this year.

Festival artists
Uni and Her Ukulele / Azo Bell and The Old Spice Boys / Sione Aleki
Chuck Upu / S.E.G.U.E. / Big Muffin Serious Band / Foganupu
The Teachukes / The Nukes/ Rua Tika / The Kiwileles
With guest appearances by Ray Columbus and Jordan Luck

Festival artists
Uni and Her Ukulele / Azo Bell and The Old Spice Boys Sione Aleki / Chuck Upu / S.E.G.U.E. /The Big Muffin Serious Band / Fogonopu / The Teachukes /The Kiwieles /Guest appearances by Ray Columbus/ Graham Brazier

A day of concerts, demonstrations, workshops, food stalls, competitions,
international and local acts
Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland Sat 22 November 10 - 4


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