It was a beautiful weekend at the Crichton Estate in Dumfries for the first ever Ukulele Festival of Scotland, a spectacular event in support of the Ukulele Kids Club UK, the weather and grounds were equally outstanding.
However the mood in the bazaar was intense, two rival Ukulele luthiers jibe and taunt each other as they ply their wares. They raise their Ukuleles in preparation for battle…. “If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine…”
It was great to see Tom my young friend from Germany again, to catch up on his progress and check out the fantastic instruments he has been making, during his time at Pete Howlett‘s workshop in Wales. We had a good chat about neck joints and even the possibility of a workshop visit! He has also developed a retro-fit Ukulele pick-up which is very simple to install into any acoustic Ukulele.
Tom’s stylish electric Ukuleles have a tantalising finish and an even more tantalising sound! Their lines and shapes are always a pleasure to behold. Tom’s impeccable craftsmanship is echoed wonderfully in both his solid-body work, as with his acoustic instruments.
I also had the pleasure of meeting Marco, another highly talented young luthier, this time from Italy. We discussed his work and also his neat ideas for a Ukulele practice mute (see close-up picture below) and a kazoo type gadget that you can fit on your uke, to emulate a resonator sound. He also told me a great way to make your own radius board, without the need for any CNC cutting, so I can’t wait to make myself one of those and write it up for the blog.
As well as his beautifully made acoustic Ukuleles, amongst the more adventurous players the “Ukuleles From Outer Space” (UFOS) were the talk of the fest. His unique creation is a curious, space-age amalgam of the traditional and the modern: resins, metal, cutting edge technology and Aquila Ukulele strings.
Taking him 4 years to design and develop, these interstellar Ukuleles come with a choice of colours or wooden fascias, they have a great sound when connected to an amp and they also have a light up ‘soundhole’ which glows when you strum!
Along with meeting these two great young talents of the Ukulele building world, I also had the pleasure of being entertained by some of the Ukulele playing world’s elite! I enjoyed a couple of workshops and had the humbling experience of meeting none other than James Hill and Manitoba Hal Brolund. Chatting, jamming and drinking with some of the UK’s if not the world’s most entertaining Ukulele artists: Ken Middleton, Mike Hind, Dead Mans Uke, Mersey Belles, Mother Ukers and Krabbers to name just a few.
The Ukulele Festival of Scotland put itself firmly on the map and will soon be added as a must on any Ukulele players list of annual events. I for one can’t wait to see what they have in-line for next year, well worth every inch of the long journey!