On the last weekend in October the Berlin Ukulele Festival took place for the third time. It was the first time that I attended and I’m really glad I did, cause it was so much fun.
Unfortunately I missed the open mic on Friday night, but I booked a super early flight on Saturday morning (alarm clock went off at 0430, yeah), so I didn’t miss anything on Saturday.
When I got to the festvival venue at UFA Fabrik Berlin, there was already a play-along going on:
It’s a really nice idea to offer this play-along style workshops throughout the festival. There was always a great athmosphere and people enjoying themselves.
I booked only one workshop for Saturday with the fabulous Opera-lele. It was a singing workshop (something I desperately need) and we started out with some breathing exercises. Then we learned to sing the song “Tiny Bubbles” – first just singing, no ukulele yet. And only after we were able to sing the song we picked up our ukuleles and played along. It’s a fun song and I’m thinking about playing it on my Instagram in the next couple of weeks – well, only if I get it to sound ok.
Anyway, the workshop was great. Mandi and George are amazing singers and so much fun. I enjoyed the workshop a lot and can’t wait to attend another one (maybe next year in Graz).
Saturday evening was a 6 hour concert marathon (with some breaks in between). It started out with Elke & The Cool Girls a local band from Berlin. (Here are some short recordings I did for my Instagram from the performances).
Second act was Amelia Coburn. A british Ukulele girl with some mad skills and an enchanting voice. She was one of my favorite acts this weekend – I became a huge fan instantly (and snatched a selfie with her after the show – isn’t she the cutest?).
Opera-lele was up next. I already enjoyed their workshop a lot, so I was looking forward to their stage performance. Now to be honest, opera and musical theater is not what I usually listen to, but it was nice to see, that even that style of music is possible on the ukulele and their voices are just a joy to listen to.
The next act I’ve been wanting to see for quite a while and I finally had the chance to was Bad Mouse Orchestra. They play some mad 1920s/1930s Ukulele swing, Roy Smeck style. If you ever get the chance to hear them play, don’t miss it. It’s such a joy and you won’t regret it.
Final act of the first day was Abe Lagrimas Jr.. If you’re into jazzy fingerstyle ukulele, he’s what you’re looking for. It was a great show with some amazing ukulele skills.
Sunday started out with one of my favorite workshops this weekend: Hula with Toni
I’m not a dancer (at all) but it was so much fun to learn a short hula and dance with this lovely group of ukulele players. Here’s a video of the full choregraphy that we learned and I snatched a selfie with Toni – she’s such a sweet soul and it was nice meeting her.
Second workshop of the day was with Bad Mouse Orchestra. They taught some funny tricks to incorporate into our playing. Did you ever blow into your ukulele? No, you should try it out 😉 – might have to find a song in the next weeks where I can use some of those tricks, I think you guys might enjoy it.
Final workshop for this weekend was with Abe Lagrimas Jr.. His performance the day before was fantastic and his workshop on improvisation was great as well. It’s one of the things I’m still completely afraid to do and workshops like his are encouraging me to at least try it every once in a while in a safe environment. I’m currently working on an original song where I want to try some improvisation, so we’ll see how it turns out and if I’m able to apply what I learned in the workshop.
Sunday also offered another great set of concerts. Unfortunately I had to leave early to catch my flight back to Vienna, so I could only listen to Ukes & Dollerei and Elisabeth Pfeiffer.
Elisabeth Pfeiffer was fantastic as usual (not sure how many times I’ve heard her play by now, but I’m not getting tired of it). And she brought some guests on stage with her:
This is who I missed:
PPNOU – First Poznan Non-Symphonic Ukulele Orchestra
The League of Ukulele Gentleman
I had a great weekend in Berlin with fantastic music, lovely people and even some sightseeing. Hope I can do it again next year.
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