Performers are also presenting workshop or two at the festival.
Abe Lagrimas, Jr.
Abe Lagrimas, Jr. is a musician, composer, educator, and author who plays the drums, vibraphone, ukulele, and studied at Berklee College of Music. He competed in the highly prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Drums Competition and has worked with many different artists such as Eric Marienthal, Eric Reed, Kamasi Washington, Katisse Buckingham, Lalo Schifrin, Barbara Morrison, Michelle Coltrane, Jake Shimabukuro, Kenny Endo, and continues to be an in-demand session musician in Los Angeles.
As a solo ukulele artist, Abe is a Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award (Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts) recipient and has released multiple albums in the United States, Japan, and South Korea. He has headlined many ukulele festivals throughout the United States, as well as Canada, Mexico, U.K., Germany, China, Japan, Philippines, Thailand, and Australia. Abe is also an active educator who has conducted workshops, currently teaches private lessons, and is an instructor for the Fender Play series. He is the author of Jazz Ukulele: Comping, Soloing, Chord Melodies (Berklee Press & Hal Leonard), which is available in stores worldwide and on Amazon. He currently endorses Canopus Drums, Paiste Cymbals, Vic Firth Drumsticks, Beato Bags, Ko'olau Ukulele, Analysis Plus Cables, Fusion Gig Bags, and Roswell Pro Audio.
The Aloha Boys
Born and raised in Hawai'i and transplanted to the Washington D.C. area to pursue careers, The Aloha Boys, Glen Hirabayashi, Isaac Ho'opi'i and Irv Queja - met in 1996 while playing music for their children at Halau O 'Aulani, a school of Hawai'ian culture, in the Washington, D.C. area. A special and exciting bond grew musically among the Aloha Boys, who love to kanikapila or play an acoustic down-home, backyard-style Hawai'ian music, a style which includes everything from the very traditional to contemporary songs and styles. They all sing lead and backing vocals. Their voices blend in a nahenahe (soft pleasant) style. They have performed at numerous functions from backyard parties to concerts and at many venues including Carnegie Hall and on the National Mall at the openings of the World War II Memorial and the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, the Kennedy Center Millenium Stage, the Barns at Wolf Trap, and in Rheims, France, Toronto, Canada, New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Charlotte, Southern California and Hawai'i. In Hawai'i, their performances include Pakele Live, the Gabby Festival, Slack Key Guitar Festival O'ahu Style, and Slack Key Guitar Festival, Virginia Style. The music of the Aloha Boys brings them and their audience back to a lifestyle that is unique and precious to Hawai'i.
Amy Kucharik is a ukulele-slinging singer-songwriter based in Somerville, MA. The 2015 Kerrville Grassy Hill New Folk winner explores the full range of her instrument's capabilities as a tool to convey a complex array of subjects and moods: Whether humorous, topical, or intense, Amy steers listeners away from perceiving the ukulele as a twee novelty. At the same time, Amy wants her audience to have a good time, and her performances are infused with Vaudevillian charm and an infectious, danceable swing. Her music draws from a range of influences including blues, ragtime jazz, folk, pop and country, as well as aesthetics garnered from film and literature. Amy's catchy, sometimes haunting songs recount tales of reluctant love, revenge, grit, and the challenge of self-expression in a tumultuous political age.
Originally from Southern IL, Amy grew up playing classical piano and studied french horn from the 6th grade through college. At Southern Illinois University, Amy majored in art and creative writing, ultimately earning her MFA in poetry, meanwhile playing horn in the University Wind Ensemble. However, it was after moving to Boston and through a swing dancing friend that Amy first became interested in the ukulele, the instrument that ignited her songwriting. In 2012, she put together her Friends With Benefits band.
As a visual artist, Amy creates her own gig flyers and album art. Among many projects, she has designed T-shirts for the Kristen Ford Band and Baker Thomas Band and CD packaging for Ryan Alvanos and Danielle Miraglia. Amy illustrated CD packaging for the Beantown Swing Orchestra's Christmas album, A Beantown Christmas, and has designed marketing materials and T-shirts for Sweet Molasses Blues. Her portfolio is available at http://amykcreative.weebly.com/.
For over 45 years, Philadelphia native Bill Wynne has shared the music and culture of Hawaii with audiences from Carnegie Hall to the Monarch Room of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Waikiki. An expert in slack key guitar, steel guitar, and ukulele, Wynne is best known for his exceptional skill in the traditional Hawaiian art of falsetto singing for which he was awarded first prize – a Hula Records recording contract – in the 2005 Aloha Festivals Falsetto Contest. Wynne learned practically everything he knows about Hawaiian music through the careful study of recordings – a collecting frenzy which has a resulted in an enviable library of more than 25,000 rare Hawaiian music recordings which he now shares via his 24-hour-a-day internet-based radio station, Ho`olohe Hou Radio (//hoolohehou.com/). Wynne has twice hosted his own TV specials from Honolulu as part of the Pakele Live series and appeared more than 20 times at the New York Botanical Gardens as part of its “Visions of Hawaii” exhibit.
Ho`olohe Hou Radio — Bill Wynne's 24 hour-a-day Internet Radio Station
With Curt's re-introduction to the ukulele after a 20 year break and taking advantage of his thirty plus years jazz guitar training and skills, he began pursuing the potential of the ukulele exploring instrumental music using the vast repertoire available from the traditional contemporary jazz repertoire and with a few originals thrown in for fun. Curt has developed an international reputation as a ukulele expert having written over 50 books for ukulele, Guitar, Bass, and Music and over 800+ lessons for the ukulele available on his LearningUkulele.com site.
As and author and private music teacher Curt created Curt Sheller Publications in 1995 and has been on the web since. Curt has over 50 years of playing experience and has been involved in private music education for the past 30 plus years.
“UncleZac” is a Fairfield County CT ukulele performer and teacher who has played the uke for over 50 years. He has a wide range of styles and materials that he performs and teaches. He has performed in several bands including Sharkey & the unknowns, a local 50 s and 60 s oldies group, Tim Currie’s Mowtown Band, Roswell & the Ukulaliens, a five piece ukulele band, The NY Ukulele Ensemble, “uke consultant” to the Darien High School Ukulele Group and leader of the Laphalele’s, a senior uke ensemble in New Canaan , CT. He presently fronts a trio performing uke & vocals with sax/clarinet/flute and upright base known as UncleZac & the ZacTones
Unclezac is the author of two chord charts, “Bari to Soprano and Back Ukulele Chord Chart” and The Ultimate Chord Inversion Chart for Ukulele” distributed by The Magic Fluke Company.
UncleZac is the author of several chord charts, “Bari to Soprano and Back Ukulele Chord Chart” and The Ultimate Chord Inversion Charts for Ukulele. In addition to teaching private and group lessons, he has also presented several workshops and performed at venues including The New York Uke Fest, The Tampa Bay Uke Fest, The New Jersey Folk Project Uke Fest, The Fort Lauderdale Uke Fest and The Funky Frets Uke Fest in 2015.
He plays music from Leon Redbone to Jimmy Buffett to Allan Sherman and more. Primarily a bari player, he never travels with only one uke because as uke legend, Fred Fallin, says, “each one has a different voice”, a necessity for different songs, so bring more than one.
Kirk Jones is a Professional FUNsician • Kirk's slogan –
Orangutan or Lion, describes himself as fun loving and goofy like an Orangutan but, he can also muster up the courage like a lion to pull on your heartstrings.
Kirk teaches beginner and intermediate ukulele lessons and workshops and is the founder of Ukulele Gatherings Of North Alabama group.
Kirk has performed and taught workshops a various ukulele festivals across the USA, including: Alabama UkeFest In Guntersville, Alabama • Rocket City Ukulele Festival in Huntsville, Alabama • Uke Republic in Atlanta, Georgia • Gaithersburg UkeFest in Gaithersburg, Maryland • Tampa Bay Ukulele Society in Clearwater, Florida • Nashville, Tennessee • Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
Kirk currently runs a monthly ukulele workshops at The Fret Shop in Huntsville, Alabama.
Michael August has been playing harmonica for 35 years and has learned all aspects of harmonica playing. Different positions and techniques on harmonica, and many different styles from gospel, to Bluegrass, to Classical. He knows all the functions of the Harmonica and is a multi-talented musician of different instruments, including Mandolin, Dobro, Banjo, Guitar, and Slide Guitar. He has taught quite a few classes from advanced to beginner and has also taught beginner blues and open tuning slide ukulele at TBUG and beginner harmonica at Gaithersburg Ukulele festival.
Over 8 years ago I fell in love. I fell in love with a little four stringed instrument that I had only witnessed people making fun of or using it for outdated music. Then I saw Jake Shimabukuro play in his now famous video, ‘while my guitar gently weeps’ and that was it… my life was forever changed.
I bought one that night and waited very impatiently for it to show up. I looked up everyone I could find on YouTube to learn the ways of this fascinating new instrument I was enjoying… And some of these first people I made contact with, I am still great friends with after all these years.
I am a people loving, easy going country boy from the southern states of America. My approach to the ukulele follows my own ‘kiss’ theory.. Which is ‘keep it simple, and strum’ meaning make every thing as simple as you can, and most importantly enjoy yourself. I tell all my students that I have only one rule and it’s my rule #1…
Q: What’s my Rule #1?
A: Yah gotta have FUN!/p>
Ray Cygrymus Ray has taught elementary school music for over thirty years, most recently specializing in ukulele instruction in the classroom. He has lived in the Pittsburgh area his entire life, and attended Duquesne University where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education, with an emphasis on voice. Ray has performed in many musicals and plays with theaters throughout the Pittsburgh area and has fronted many rock bands where he was the lead singer and played various instruments.
Ray’s goal is to share his knowledge and experience to influence other ukulele players to look at their instrument in a different way by gaining knowledge of different techniques, expanding new skill sets, and effectively using sound effects. Ray hopes to continue to grow, entertain, inspire, and educate the world on the beauty and diversity of this spectacular little instrument that brings people together in such a big way! YouTube@SURFN-RZ/Facebook@surfn-rz.
William Ernestburg is from From Laie, Oahu, Hawaii. He is a proud graduate of Kahuku High School. William served in the United States Coast Guard with distinction for 30 years.
William is a member of the Hawaii State Society (HSS), the HSS ‘Ukulele Hui’, and Halau O'Aulani.
Past Funky Frets Uke Fest Artists Have Included
In no particular order.
Just browsing over both books, they look fantastic! I'm a guitarist and uke player for over 25 years and was thinking about writing a ukulele book but you've already written what I think are the best, most comprehensive and thorough books I've ever seen for the instrument. I just might end up buying every book you've written and I'll be giving my highest recommendation for your books to my friends and students. Thank you so much for taking the time to write such great books! — Peter Rhee
Aloha, Curt, All I can say is WOW! What you have accomplished is simply incredible! All the best — Glen Hirabayashi, The Aloha Boys
Thanks for visiting and checking out the site!
Original Curtie Animation from 1987 for my first web site on a Macintosh II, 36 years ago.