DeKALB – The ukulele ensemble Wild Blue Ukulele Orchestra’s inaugural Uke Day is coming to DeKalb’s Hopkins Park.
The event, slated from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday at Hopkins Park, 1403 Sycamore Road in DeKalb, is meant to promote a good time and build community.
Uke Day will make for a first for the city when the group puts on the event over the weekend, organizers said.
Those behind the inaugural event were recognized by the mayor and DeKalb city leaders with a proclamation during a recent council meeting.
Jen Conley, one of the co-founders of Wild Blue Ukulele Orchestra, said that having the city recognize Wild Blue Ukulele Orchestra and Uke Day was validating for the group’s efforts.
“I was very excited because those of us who organize and play the ukulele we see many of its benefits,” Conley said. “It’s communal. It is something that’s accessible. It brings diverse people together. We have become a culture where we largely listen to music in headphones in isolation, but throughout history music has been shared, it’s been communal, everyone participates in it. The ukulele revives that to some degree.”
During the event, there will be three, 25-minute ukulele workshops at 1:15, 1:45 and 2:15 p.m.
Tables will be set up from 1 to 5 p.m. to allow attendees to peruse from vendor offerings, take part in a uke swap and sell, and browse for tropical treats to purchase. Among those expected to have tables at the event are Ax-In-Hand, Ukulele Station of America and Aurora Music Company.
We have become a culture where we largely listen to music in headphones in isolation, but throughout history music has been shared, it’s been communal, everyone participates in it. The ukulele revives that to some degree.”— Jen Conley
Sophia Varcados, one of the co-founders of Wild Blue Ukulele Orchestra, said organizers behind the event felt that inviting vendors to take part in Uke Day makes for a good addition to the festivities.
“Many people ask us where they can continue learning the ukulele,” Varcados said. “I’m hoping that this event opens up dialogue between the vendors and the visitors to establish more avenues for ukulele instruction, more ukulele gatherings, whatever the community wants and the vendors can respond to.”
Conley said it’s exciting see how certain artists and bands have put the ukulele on the map for all to see. At the same time, she said big name musical acts, like Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, Neil Young and Elvis Presley, make the idea of playing the ukulele seem surreal in some ways.
“Many people when they think about playing an instrument, it’s quite intimidating, it’s quite expensive and it’s a big commitment,” Conley said. “The ukulele typically is none of those things to play it in a basic way. It’s simple. It’s inexpensive. With not a large amount of effort, people can know enough to come join one of these community events. So, it’s a way that everybody can be part of the music making.”
A performance by the Wild Blue Ukulele Orchestra is expected at 3 p.m.
To close out Uke Day, attendees are invited to take part in a Strum and Sing at 4 p.m.
Admission will be $5 per person and is used to cover the overhead costs of hosting the event, organizers said.
Organizers behind the event also have put together five raffle prizes for attendees to try their hand at winning, and three of them will include ukuleles.
Varcados encourages anyone who drops in for Uke Day to bring their ukulele and be prepared to strum along.
“I like to say that the ukulele is not just a spectator event, it’s all in if you want it,” she said.