From 22.11-24.11.2019 the second Ruhrkulele Festival took place in Essen, Germany. Since everyone was raving about last years festival I knew that this was the place to be and booked my tickets as soon as they went on sale.
When the festival week arrived I got sick and felt awful. I was tired and tbh I didn’t really want to go to the festival. But since I had already payed for tickets, flights and everything else and I was not too sick to travel, I went through with it.
Then of course, my flight was delayed and I had to wait forever for my checked bag – not a good start for something that you didn’t feel like going to. When I finally made it to the hotel it was already pretty late. The plan was to meet up with UkeFrank to do a collaboration video, but of course that was not going to happen on Friday. We only had time to practice the song once – for a lack of better space, we practiced in the pedestrian zone in town 😉
When we finally went tot he venue for the evening concerts, it already felt like a big family reunion again. I don’t even know how else to describe it, because by now it is like a family and it’s the best to meet up with everyone again and just pick up where we left it when we saw each other last time.
The venue for Fridays concerts was Haus Fuhr. It offered a very charming concert hall, which was packed. Compared to many other festivals, this concert felt like a community event. Most people there were locals and not neccessarily part of the ukulele community. This added a nice touch, as those people came to listen to some great music.
Before the concerts started there was the opportunity for some great food. Actually the best food I’ve had at a ukulele festival yet. Dolcinella restaurant offered Poké Bowls and Hawaiian Lunch Plates. Food makes me happy, and yummy food shared with lovely people makes me even happier. So this was great.
First up on stage was Wohnzimmer Inc. It is actually the band of the festival organizer Michael Epke-Wessel and they play mostly rock covers and some original songs. It was very unusal to see a full band with just one ukulele at a ukulele festival – it sounded like they brought a lot of fans with them though 😉
Charlotte & Elisabeth
I swear, I don’t follow them around, they are following me 😉 But it’s always a pleasure to hear Charlotte & Elisabeth play. This was the third time in about 5 months that I’ve seen them and I could still listen to them for hours. It’s also nice to see how much they’ve grown together in the last months – the audience can feel their connection and they even made me cry a little because there was so much emotion in their songs. So yeah, I can’t wait to see them again.
Fräulein Nina und Herr Hanz
This act felt like traveling back in time to Germany in the 1950s-1960s. Fräulein Nina and Herr Hanz (also locals who were partly involved in planning this festval) played German and Italian hits from these eras. It was a fun show to watch and even involved a little choreography for the audience.
If you don’t know Peter Moss I strongly suggest you check him out. It’s absolutely crazy what this man can do with his ukulele and I don’t even know what else to say because his skills leave me speechless.
This was the first time that I saw the Lucky Leles live. I had heard a lot about them and their show so I was interested to see them. Their show is a mix of country, rock, Hawaiian and traditional tunes, all with a twist and some comedy mixed in. Their lead singer is quite impressive and you know I’m a sucker for a good outfit ;).
Now, as you might’ve guessed already, five acts is quite a lot for one evening. The concert started at 7 and ended at midnight. That’s a lot of time and tbh felt a bit exhausting for me (though it might just be the fact, that I was not in my best health this weekend).
Saturday Workshops, Open Mic and Concerts
Saturday was happening in two different locations. One for the evening concerts and some workshops and one for workshops, open mic and ukulele fair. I was really impressed how many exhibitors were there – not just the big brands but also six smaller luthiers. It’s always nice to see what amazing ukuleles are out there. Unfortunately the exhibition space was very very small and I don’t do well in crowded spaces, so I wasn’t even able to take a look at everything offered there.
Saturday also offered tons of workshops. I had booked four – but still wasn’t feeling to well, so ended up attending only two.
Beatles Medley Workshop with Peter Moss
I already told you that I’m at a loss of words for Peters performance on Friday. I try to find more words for his workshop because I had a really great time. Not everyone who is great on stage is also a good teacher, but Peter definitely is. In 1,5 hours we did a Beatles medley with four different songs, learned about 15 new chords and sang in three part harmony. And while doing all of that we had a lot of fun. Thanks for this great workshop.
Peter made a video of it – you can check it out here:
Collaboration with UkeFrank
While workshops were going on UkeFrank and I finally got to do our video collab. It turned out amazing and I can’t wait to share it with you (please be patient though, I have a lot going on right now and might need some time to process everything and write new blog posts).
I was lucky that I got a spot for the open mic – however I was sad to see, that open mic didn’t seem to be a high priority for the festival. Throughout the weekend there was only one hour with 10 slots dedicated for open mics. I feel like everyone attending the open mic, whether as an artist or as a listener, made the very best of the situation and the quality at the open mic stage was fantastic.
Since everyone got five minutes to play, most of us did two songs which made this one hour very entertaining with a diverse program. I was super nervous when I hit the stage because Charlotte and Elisabeth were also there, but I got through my songs pretty well, without anyone even noticing that I totally messed up the lyrics in my first song. I will post videos of it soon, so stay tuned.
Elise Ecklund and Anna Damita (meetmyukulele)
The evening concerts started out with the youtube and Instagram stars Elise Ecklund and Anna Damita (who most of you probably know as meetmyukulele). They are both sponsored by Flight Ukulele and Elise is currently touring through Europe. It’s always nice to see some of the younger youtube and Instagram stars come to live. They were both also joined by Marc Gallagher.
Roland Prakken plays a variety of English and German songs with lots of soul and often a funny twist and I am totally in love with his voice. He recently published a book with ukulele stories (only available in German though).
I don’t know how many times I’ve seen Marc play in the last year or so. He’s become a real friend over the time and it’s such a pleasure to see him grow. I believe that the performance at Ruhrkulele was the best one I’ve seen from him so far. It felt light-hearted, totally connected with the audience and created a longing to see even more. And I am convinced that we will see and hear a lot more from him in the next years. He also has a new album coming out in December, go check it out. (I am only getting paid in hugs to promote this 😉 ).
There was supposed to be a different act at the concerts on Saturday but they had to cancel last minute. Everyone loved Peters performance on Friday so he was happy to step in and play again. He even put some workshop elements into his performance. What an incredible artist.
The Lucky Ukes
I already saw the The Lucky Ukes at Berliner Ukulele Festival last months. But as you all know, you can get me anytime with a good “Scarborough Fair”, so it was nice to see them again.
Again, you probably noticed that this must’ve been an intense and long evening and it was. I really appreciate that the festival offered such a huge amount of bands playing, but for my short attention span (sorry, I’m a millenial whose attention span is only as long as a twitter message) it was just too much at times.
The festival was continuing on Sunday with lots of workshops but since I hadn’t booked any of them and had to leave for the airport around noon I decided to just go for a walk and enjoy the sunny fall weather in the nearby park of “Villa Hügel”. I even got lucky and found some great picture spots.
Thanks to so my amazing ukulele family I had a really great weekend (even though I wasn’t feeling my best most of the time). I know I would probably forget someone if I start to name everyone, so I just trust that all of you know that I’m talking about you. I love you and can’t wait to see you all again next year.
PS: If you head over to my Instagram, you can check out even more clips and pictures from the weekend in my story highlights.