Las Cruces UkeFest Brings Ukulele Fun to New Mexico - LasCruces.com
Person playing an ukulele outdoors.

May is unofficially ukulele month in Las Cruces, New Mexico, with the return of the Las Cruces UkeFest from May 17 – 19, 2024. This weekend celebration of all things related to the popular four-stringed instrument brings ukulele enthusiasts from across the country to Southern New Mexico for a concert, workshops, jam sessions, open mics, and a marketplace where you can pick up a new-to-you ukulele.

Las Cruces UkeFest 2024 features well-known and in-demand ukulele instructors Danielle Ate the Sandwich and Casey MacGill, both returning to the event, and Las Cruces first-timers Neal Chin and Steven Espaniola. Their workshops are supplemented by two classes taught by popular local instructors: Joe Seltzer teaching percussion and Della Bustamante leading a vocal class.

Danielle Anderson, performing as Danielle Ate the Sandwich, will teach four workshops at the Las Cruces UkeFest.
Danielle Ate the Sandwich will teach four workshops at the Las Cruces UkeFest.

What is a Ukulele Festival?

Ukulele festivals are popular in countries around the world and are an opportunity to take classes from ukulele professionals, have fun at open mic and jam sessions, and enjoy hanging out with others who play ukulele.

The festival concert gives the pros a chance to really show their chops. Non-ukulele-playing audiences are often surprised at the diversity of music that can be performed on ukulele. While they may expect only Hawaiian music due to the instrument’s roots, they can also hear anything from folk music to rock (think Jake Shimabukuro playing “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” on ukulele).

The Las Cruces UkeFest also includes a delicious catered lunch on Saturday and a marketplace with vendors and a ukulele swap meet. Because ukulele enthusiasts often have UAS, Ukulele Acquisition Syndrome, they may find themselves with more ukuleles than they have room to store or display. The swap meet gives those folks a chance to sell their “excess” ukuleles to others who don’t yet have enough.

Why own more than one? Well, there are four main sizes of ukulele: the small soprano, slightly larger concert, and the larger yet tenor, which are all tuned G-C-E-A. Then, there’s the baritone ukulele which is the largest and tuned D-G-B-E, like four strings of a guitar. Add to that bass, resonator, and banjo ukes along with fun special shapes like pineapple or ukes with a pick-up for amplification, and you can see that you must have more than one ukulele!

Steven Espaniola will be an instructor and performer at the Las Cruces UkeFest.
Steven Espaniola will be an instructor and performer at the Las Cruces UkeFest.

UkeFest Concert

If you don’t yet play the ukulele but want to enjoy an evening of great music, you can attend the concert on Friday, May 17, at 7 p.m. at the NMSU Atkinson Recital Hall. Tickets are only $10 and can be purchased at the door. Children aged 12 and younger are free with an adult.

Are Ukulele Festivals Good for Beginners?

Ukulele festivals are great for beginners to meet others, get inspired, and really be immersed into the ukulele world. The Las Cruces UkeFest offers beginner-level workshops at each session. With three workshops from which to choose during each time slot, there’s something for every level of player.

For example, the day kicks off with Danielle Ate the Sandwich teaching “Music School Dropout” for beginners, Neal Chin teaching “Jawaiian Music,” and a percussion workshop with Joe Seltzer to find new ways to spice up your ukulele group’s performances. The line-up includes workshops on ukulele solos, strumming, songwriting, Beatles songs, a Sunday morning Gospel According to Uke sing-along, and much more. The full schedule of workshops really offers something for everyone.

Neal Chin will teach workshops for intermediate to advanced players at Las Cruces UkeFest.

Where Does the Las Cruces UkeFest Take Place?

This year, the Las Cruces UkeFest will be held entirely at New Mexico State University. The Friday evening concert will be at the Atkinson Recital Hall in the NMSU Music Building. The rest of the festival will be on the third floor of the Corbett Center with plenty of room for all the activities.

Affordable Weekend of ukulele fun

Where else can you take seven workshops, enjoy a concert, have a catered lunch, take part in open mics and jam sessions, and be filled with ukulele joy for only $145 (if you register by April 1, and only $170 after that)? Special pricing is also available for full-time students.

Register online at LasCrucesUkeFest.com by May 16 at 7 p.m. as walk-in registrations cannot be accommodated due to the catered lunch. A nearby hotel is holding a block of rooms through April 16, so get your room reserved, too!

Casey MacGill will teach four workshops at the Las Cruces UkeFest.
Casey MacGill will teach four workshops at the Las Cruces UkeFest.

Las Cruces Ukes

The Las Cruces UkeFest is hosted by the Las Cruces Ukes, a nonprofit group of ukulele enthusiasts who have been bringing the joy of ukulele music to Southern New Mexico for more than 10 years. Learn more about the group at LasCrucesUkes.com.

Posted by LasCruces.com

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