The Blue Mountains Ukulele Group held its 11th annual festival at Katoomba in the second week of February.  BUMS members Lesley Allan, Salli Chmura, Leanne Horne and Geoff Dancer were there to join the love of ukulele.

It started on Friday night with a dinner and performances by MARLOWE – a uke soloist from Minnesota.  See her mashing it up at Followed by  Simple Souls – described as Hawaii’s hottest female acoustic duo.

Ukulele Republic of Canberra, performing in wet attire. Blue Mt Uke Festival, 2020. Photo courtesy: Lesley Allan.

Thousands attended the festival and braved the persistent rain though the show did go on, except for the Big Jam on Saturday night.

There were up to eight stages in operation over the whole weekend with 25 minute performances and quick turn arounds.  It was a challenge to know who to see next and how to get there without getting too wet on the way.  Impressive acts from Queensland were Miss Elm (Erin Harrington), a BUMS member on her east coast tour and Accidentally on Purpose – three teenagers from Maleny.

Other top performers were the Outlaws Big Ukulele Band – a unique ensemble led by Ian Porter and the energetic Lightly Strung Orchestra from Sydney’s Northern Beaches.  See them at

Sunday was a good participative day at the Carrington Hotel with a series of performances interspersed with a strum-along from the Blue MUGS songbook.

Thanks to Lesley Allen for her report on the festival.  Never one to miss an educational opportunity for ukuleles, the BUMS group took a trip down to Blaxland to take in a pop-up workshop run by the Wild Women of Anywhere Beach (Cathy Welsford and Angie Smith).  This was an orchestration workshop culminating in a performance of a Russian song ‘Ochi Tchor ni ya’.  (Editor’s note:  I hope it was easier to play than to say).

Wild Women of Anywhere Beach & with Dennis on bass. Blue Mt Uke Festival, 2020. Photo courtesy: Lesley Allan.

Did you know that about 40% of the musos at 26th annual Imbil Acoustic Music Festival were ukulele players?  If we get a few more people going next year, we can launch a take-over bid and rename it the Imbil Ukulele and Acoustic Festival (only joking!).

We (and a few other BUMS) spent the first weekend of November at Boorumba Deer Park at Imbil — a sleepy little hollow about 15 km off the highway south of Gympie.  It’s a couple of hours drive from Brisbane and accommodation is in huts, caravans and (mostly) tents.  This year there were over 100 people at the festival which costs just $20 for the weekend. A marquee and shed form the main concert and workshop area.

Packed into The Shed. Photo courtesy of Jane Erkens.

The festival program started Friday night with an open mic session.  Saturday was full of workshops, a ukulele jam which we led and a grand concert in the evening.  Perhaps 40% of the people there were guitar players and the remaining 20% played banjo, fiddles, whistles and so on.

Wildwood Flower show the diversity of instruments at the Saturday night concert in The Shed. Photo courtesy of Geoff Dancer.

Perhaps, the most impressive aspect of the festival was the “love”. There was a beautiful atmosphere with people moving about each other’s campsites enjoying and sharing music and playing various instruments.  Everyone was welcome to join in and contribute.

Camping ground jam, Imbil, November 2019. Photo courtesy of Geoff Dancer.

We certainly plan to be back next year, and it would be good to see a few more BUMS there.

Angela & Dave McGrath

Uke’n have more fun making music in January 2020 when Heritage Estate Wines in Stanthorpe hosts a Uke and Folk Fest.

This will be a first for this venue — usually local jazz musicians perform on Sunday afternoons.

Along with a jam, workshops and open mic, the festival will have local performers and  visiting musos to entertain you.

While it sounds a bit “same as usual”, this festival has an added bonus of  a beautiful heritage venue that produces lovely wines and delicious food.

Heritage Wines is located at Cottonvale. There’s accommodation nearby if needed, and local camping and caravanning within walking distance of the venue.

More information is available on the festival’s Facebook page.

Well, the 26th Imbil Acoustic Music Festival is shaping up to be a very cool place to be 1-3 November. The program is out on the Festival’s Facebook page and BUMS very own ANGELA and David McGrath will be leading the afternoon jam.

Armed with some great songs — oldies, newies and something for all levels Ang and Dave will lead uke players on a musical journey.

So, pack your swag, and grab your mate, or come on your own. There’s plenty to entertain. Imbil Acoustic Music Festival will be terrific fun!

The Central Coast Ukulele Folk Festival 2019 was held at the DIGGERS RSL CLUB, the Entrance, in New South Wales on Friday 23 September 2019 to Sunday 25 September.

The venue enabled all the festival activities to be held under one roof with the reasonably priced part of the Diggers complex the IBIS hotel providing good accommodation for out of town festival attendees.

Several merchant stalls catered for music instruments and accessories. A coffee shop restaurant provided food though out the festival.

Friday night’s Dinner Concert was fully attended. All were able to enjoy a well-presented, ukulele, folk and ukulele & folk bands with a two-course dinner. A money tree of Scratch-its raffle provided much interest and was well supported.

The Saturday program ran from 10 am to midnight in the Liquid Lounge. A marathon of twenty- three performances was presented. The excellent Wayne “Ossie” Osbourne kept the program on time, and was even able to advertise our Brisbane SPRUKE 2019 Festival to the audience several times during the day.

A major highlight was a BIG JAM session with songs from the Festival Song Book which was good value at $2.00.

During Saturday, eight performances and four open mic sessions were held on the Café Stage.

The Sunday Program ran from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm with 13 performances presented. Nine workshops were provided during the Festival at a good value cost of $20 each payable at the door.

Central Coast’s 2019 Festival was a very well organised, and conducted in an excellent venue for all attendees to enjoy. A highlight of the festival was the performance of the Central Coast Ukulele Group’s mass ensemble, which has been invited to perform at the 50th annual ukulele festival at Waikiki.

By Col Grant

Central Coast Ukulele Group performs for a packed audience at CCUFF, 2019. Photo courtesy of festival organiser, Liz Kitney.

To see photos of the highlights, visit the Third Corner festival photo gallery.

Ukulele teachers and leaders, you oughta thank AUTLA … they’ve put together an awesome, affordable, fun-filled ukulele immersion program. It’s the best value for money professional development for music teachers that you’ll get all year.

DATE: Friday, 13 September 2019

TIME: Professional Development from 9:00am to 4:15pm; AGM from 4:30pm-4:45pm

VENUE: SunPAC, Sunnybank Performing Arts Centre, 470 McCullough St, Sunnybank, QLD, 4109

COST: Non-members: $50; AUTLA members: Receive a 20% discount: $40

Sunshine Coast Ukulele Masters Inc hosted its 6th annual Sunshine Coast Ukulele Festival in April 2019 at Kenilworth showgrounds.

The festival boasted yet another exciting four-day program, featuring international headline acts Ukebox (UK), and  Victoria Vox (USA), as well as some truly talented artists from Australia wide. Plenty of BUMS ventured north — some campers, some day trippers. Here’s a sample of what they experienced.

THURSDAY 11 April 2019 (by Peter Ransom)

My spies tell me that many ukesters were set up in the showgrounds as early as the Monday preceding the festival. We were only able to observe proceedings on the first scheduled day and admittedly not all of it.  I think the daily Tai Chi Qigong session at 7:15 am is something new, and certainly the uke-focused excursion on the Mary Valley Rattler is a great idea. Unfortunately, it ran late with unforeseen consequences for a couple of artists.

We missed Donna’s workshop for beginners, but I know she felt it was successful.  Ian’s performance singers could be heard all over the showgrounds, and their shift into harmony was delightful. My own Johnny Cash workshop/jam in the old hall had a delayed start, but I feel it left the quite large audience with a new perspective on Johnny Cash.  Sorry Derek, I also missed your finger picking session, but after my set we took off to the pub for a drink, Open Mic and lunch. Open Mic was a revelation: there were lots of great performers (two songs each) and also undoubtedly the worst singer I have ever heard.  Anywhere, ever.

Later on we’re back at the showgrounds, and the poor Duke Ukem guys had  a delayed start due to a technical issue, but they were great as always.  A relaxed set from The Dangling Mangoes pleased the significant C&W crowd, though I would have liked more volume for the vocals.  Peter Grace and The Ukulele Saints delivered a crisp, clear and well-rehearsed set of favourites and obscurities that everyone really enjoyed. The next group was Pistol Grip, a self-admitted ‘good-time’ outfit that kept the songs and tempo going with popular material that got us happily involved.

For day-trippers like us there’s food available all day , so it was a sound check and then pizza for dinner before the evening concert in the Big Tent. Vic Kena kicked off the night with his heavy use of electronics, great voice and brilliant playing – so professional!  In the guise of Girt By C, your scribe was next. I was very happy with my performance, but others will have to be the judge of that. I fluffed the intro to Jennie’s hula, but we got past it without any drama.

With good reason, Tom Richter is a local musical legend and he didn’t disappoint. A high point was a group of his students, all young-ish girls,  who performed on stage for the first time. Tom also involved the audience, an aspect of performance that I believe is truly rewarding for everyone.

We missed the final jam.  It had been a long day, I was ready to crash and we had yet to drive home. To summarise  I liked the venue, the programming, the stages, the acts, the people and the SCUF team. Vendors were a bit thin on the ground on that day. Yes, there were some glitches, but we came away smiling and you can’t ask for more than that.

FRIDAY 12 April 2019 (by Judy Matthews)

My first time at SCUF! I joined the happy campers dotted around the Showgrounds. I was impressed with the set up and amazing, tireless volunteer crew.

Judy at SCUF (Photo courtesy of SCUF)

Friday dawned a fine morning.  A 7:15 am Tai-Chi Qigong session got early risers off to an energised start. Workshops on offer during the morning kicked off with The 2 Robs, followed by a Beginners’ Session with Richard Tonkin. A large crowd joined Ian Phillips as harmonies were learnt and practised in his Performance Song workshop. The Dangling Mangoes (Bill and Trisha) rounded off the morning’s activities with The Secret of Playing by Ear. We pulled out our chord chart (our hands!) to determine chord families and progressions for any key; and used this knowledge to play a number of songs with no music.

A stroll up the main street of Kenilworth soon brought one to the Kenilworth Hotel where open mic performances entertained the lunchtime crowd.

Ukenjammit (hailing from Newcastle) got the Big Tent afternoon concert off to a great start with a lively set; personal favourites, A Hint of Rosemary kept the audience entranced with vocal harmonies of many golden oldies. The 2 Robs and D’Ukes of Oz kept feet tapping and for the finale, BUMS own Amanda and Adrian (and Trish) teamed up as quirky and infectious Duo Ver.

Pineapple Crush kept the music coming at the 5:00 pm Big Jam – despite a torrential downpour dampening almost everything except the enthusiasm of the festival goers cramming into any dry space at the Festival Stage.

Friday night at SCUF brings the Big Tent Party. The Lazy Leis rocked the Big Tent, helped out by BUMS favourite, Vic Kena, brilliantly stepping into the line up. The mosh pit was crammed, and every crazy dance move imaginable on display. A fantastic night!

Uke playing not done for the day yet, a late-night jam with Duke Ukem kept the sound of music wafting over the showgrounds (and Kenilworth!)

Friday night post concert jam lead by Duke Ukem was an experience not to be missed. The room rocked with all levels of players enjoying a variety of songs and lifting the roof with everyone singing their lungs out.

These jams both around someone’s camp or in the hall like this one are what these festivals are all about. No pretensions just a group of like-minded people gathered for the joy of the music.    Marg Monaghan

Steve Sandilands, Darryl Reeve, Marg Monaghan, Mike Heaton, Cath McCourt, Lisa, Mick Angeles and a host of other festival goers turned up for a jam session and sing-song at the Duke Ukem campsite. Chicken Chop Suey was eaten, Southern Comfort, Tia Maria and other alcoholic beverages were consumed, blackmail videos were taken, love was professed, and memory cells removed. The night was “full” of song, playing, laughter and giggles, stories and jokes.

Rumours were rife the next day and gossip-mongers were fervid in the ladies’ toilets … but sorry……that’s all I remember.    Mick Angeles

SATURDAY 13 April 2019 (by Jim Bills)

Wondering if you should go to SPRUKE? “SCUF, it’s a four-day festival! I can’t play the ukulele that long, and a four-day concert is just way too much!”

Relax, by the way that’s the “R” in SPRUKE, ukulele festivals are not all about playing, listening and workshopping. You don’t have to be a ukulele virtuoso, and it really doesn’t matter if you pick up your first ukulele at the festival. There are plenty of opportunities to play, listen and learn without pressure. There are opportunities for socialising, making new friends and learning from peers; as well as taking in workshops which range from learning a single song (which means you learn lots of different techniques and tricks) to basic skills for newbies to trying a few advanced techniques.

So, Saturday 13 April at Kenilworth was chock-a-block with opportunities for everyone. Let’s take a walk through what went on. If you decided to “live in” (campers and caravanners) the day begins after an early breakfast with a Tai Chi session at 7:15 am.

Now you are chilled and ready for the day, you can wander into the hall for a workshop with Djembe John about percussion. Not a drummer? No matter, its about learning timing and being able to express it. Did you know that you can use percussive effects on your ukulele?

Djembe John’s market stall (Photo courtesy of SCUF)

Action moves into the Big Tent where Ian Phillips (BUMS past president) is teaching, coaching, and conducting a large group to learn a song. It’s not complicated, but it’s using a bit more than a basic strum to create a well-orchestrated song for performance.  All comers were welcomed and you can check out some of this on

Continuing from this session Dani Jones, a talented musical director from the Sunshine Coast, delivered her Just Sing vocal harmony workshop. This was followed by the boys from Liverpool – no, not those ones!!  Ukebox who also delivered a fun workshop/performance to a packed Big Tent sharing their talents, skills and ideas with the audience. Then came Victoria Vox (😊 the mouth-trumpet lady) who didn’t disappoint with both workshop, lessons and performance in a one-hour session that catered for all skill levels.

If you didn’t want to take these workshops, you could walk 100 metres to the Kenilworth Hotel, chill and listen or perform (that’s the “P” in SPRUKE) at the 4-hour Open Mic sessions running each day. Tummy rumblings and caffeine withdrawal beckons participants to the Festival Village stage where you can chill, chat, listen, eat, socialise, satisfy your UAS.  You will certainly find new friends and other players happy to share ideas, songs, techniques and challenges with you (that’s the “S” in SPRUKE – and you can probably work out what the last three letters relate too by now 😊)

There was a lunch time solo performance by Georgie Taylor from Redlands. She reminded us she’s “just seventeen”, and that she had a CD of her original works for sale with other artists at the SCUF merchandise table 😊 and did an excellent performance.

With food cravings satisfied, it was time to return to the Big Tent for the afternoon concert. It was a smorgasbord of great performances. The CAGE played some outstanding arrangements and were followed by an equally challenging performance by the BUMS Festival Group. Both were very large groups and had arranged some complex songs (around themes and dialogue 😊) The Free Range chUKES, with most members not yet teenagers, stood tall on stage and entertained the large crowd.

BFG setting up at SCUF (Photo courtesy of SCUF)

Then Miss Elm did her stage set (she was also performing on the Festival Village Stage) during the weekend and was followed by the uke/guitar duo All The Way Home.

Miss Elm (Erin Harrington) performing at SCUF (Photo courtesy of SCUF)

Finishing the afternoon on the Big Tent the duo of Kine Kool delivered an upbeat performance with audience charts for almost all of their songs and invited the audience to join them.

Whew! It doesn’t stop there – the Big Jam on the Festival Village Stage had just begun as Kine Kool finished, led by the Sunshine Coast Pineapple Crush and the undercover area and walkways were packed as sitting and standing performers jammed a continuous set of popular songs.

A mere 45-minutes appeared for the evening meal and patrons vanished to tents, caravans, the Kenilworth Hotel and the cafes, or just ordered up more pizza, chips or coffee at the village stage. No time was wasted as they prepared to get a good seat at the Premier Evening Concert at 7:00 pm.  Victoria Vox returned to the stage with her main show and was followed by Ukebox to close.  You can check out the awesome performances of both on the Sunshine Coast Ukulele Festival 2019 Facebook page “sunshinecoastukulelefest” or on the YouTube pages of seailive uke.

And just when you thought it was all over, a late-night jam session was hosted by The Inconvenience Store (Terry Sasaki, Tony Richardson and Cath McCourt) in the dining room until late. And as the moon set in the far west and a new day began, the ukulele rested, (mostly)…. 😊.

The Inconvenience Store (Terry, Cath & Tony) (Photo courtesy of SCUF)

SUNDAY 14 April 2019 (by Rod Iffinger)

Once again I was fortunate enough to be able to attend and perform with The CAGE and A Hint of Rosemary at the Sunshine Coast Ukulele Festival held annually in the lovely surrounds of Kenilworth. This year it coincided with the school holidays so I was able attend for the whole festival and have a relaxing holiday with days filled with fun, friends and music. Usually I am unable to attend the last day as I need to get back to work, so it is a pleasure to be able to share my reflections of Sunday program with our BUMS community.

Rod relaxing with members of The CAGE. (Photo courtesy of SCUF)

I began the day attending a mass drumming circle led by Djembe John. John is a special education teacher working at Sunshine Coast schools. He uses drumming as a means of building social and emotional skills such as resilience and teamwork with his students and within the community. The hall at the Showgrounds was packed for his session. He taught basic techniques on playing the djembe, which has its origins in Africa. We laughed our way through an hour of learning rhythms suited to accompanying a variety of song genres. There is something therapeutic about participating in a drumming circle, and we emerged energised for the rest of the day.

At midday I headed to the Festival Village Stage which was located in a marquee, and surround by food vans selling a range of tasty meals. The first act was Chantelle & Uke. Chantelle is an ex-Brissie girl who now lives in Melbourne. She returned home as a participant in the Songwriting Competition. An experienced percussionist for many years, she is now expanding her musicianship into the singer/songwriter role using ukulele to help her develop in this area. She sang a range of covers as well as original songs. Her relaxed style and sense of humour were well received by the audience.

Following on from Chantelle we were treated to a massed performance led by BUMS very own Ian Phillips. Each morning of the festival, Ian started the day with a large group of players of varying abilities. They workshopped a couple of songs, experiencing vocal harmonisation and different strumming techniques. Over those sessions they worked towards the goal of a performance on the last day of the festival. Approximately 200 strummers and singers performed to great acclaim by an appreciative audience.

The afternoon concert in the main stage area was opened by Redlands City Ukes, many of whom are also active BUMS members. Their all-female vocal group starred in a number of the songs, as did our very own Sprukestars – Steve & Darryl! SCUF attracts performers from across Australia and the next group to take the stage were the Mullimbimby Neighbourly Ukes. They were followed by another BUMS performing ensemble the Hypnotonics who delivered an energetic and entertaining set. Next up were the locals, the Maleny Ukes led by the talented Tom Richter. Closing out the afternoon concert was another BUMS identity Mama Juju & her group the Jam Tarts who are always a crowd favourite.

I wisely decided to forgo the late afternoon workshop & concert – Bella Bellydance! I must be getting old to pass up bellydancing for a glass of vino and a snooze.

The final event of the festival was the Evening Concert. It opened with Gypsy Rumble, a very entertaining trio who describe themselves as “Australia’s quirkiest Celtic/Folk band”. Featuring drums, violin, banjo and of course ukuleles they delivered an entertaining and toe-tapping high energy performance. The second act of the evening was The Inconvenience Store, another quirky group of BUMS regulars — Cath McCourt on bass, with Terry Sasaki and Tony Richardson on uke. All three shared the vocal duties delivering an eclectic repertoire of songs. The concert concluded with a big jam session led by Pineapple Crush, a big band of  Sunshine Coast Ukulele Musicians (aka SCUM) members. They took us late into evening with lots of the songs beloved by the ukulele community. It was a fitting end to a wonderful festival and I am already looking forward to being a part of this again in 2020.

If you missed the festival, I believe that all of the performances in the concerts in the main stage area were videoed and are being uploaded to  You Tube. Some are already there but perhaps not all.

What Rod missed …

Kenilworth Chord Construction Workshop – Sunday 9.00 am – 10.00 am (by Mick Angeles)

Mick Angeles hosted a workshop on how to create chords, revealing the secrets to Major Scales and Chord Construction in layman’s terms for everyone to understand.

There were over 200 people in attendance to hear his simplified explanation of the mysteries of Music Theory.  Mick took his participants on an enlightening journey through an uncomplicated version of the School of Hard Knocks & Experience Music Theory 101 which he designed.

Like a magician revealing the secrets to a magic trick, Mick exposed the ingenuous secrets to the Major Scales and Chord Construction formulas. His self-designed charts were very popular and in demand after the presentation. The Powerpoint presentation with audio, charts and notes were available on USBs and sold out in 10 minutes with orders still coming in for copies.

A music teacher who was in attendance approached him after the completion and congratulated him on how his presentation made sense in an easy, straight-talking manner. She bought a copy of the workshops and asked if she could use it in her classes.

WOW! Teaching a Teacher … Mick couldn’t be happier.

And here endeth the SCUF adventures according to BUMS.

For those of you who are going to the Central Coast Ukulele & Folk Festival, the full program is now available from the festival website, or you can see a snapshot below.

This festival at The Diggers@The Entrance, Central Coast Hwy, Long Jetty, New South Wales is a happy friendly festival, where people feel welcome and participate in the common love of music. The magic of a human performance is real, and there will be plenty of live music at the Central Coast Ukulele and Folk Festival 2019.

2019 will be another exciting year. Concerts are free, only workshops attract a fee. This year the entire event will be held indoors and undercover for your comfort. International, national and locals acts will perform LIVE, sharing their wonderful stories and music.

Saturday 24 August: Daytime workshops and live performances; evening Super Jam (It will be the biggest yet!) followed by concerts and dance.

Sunday 25 August: Daytime workshops and live performances


Follow the links to view the workshop descriptions.

Saturday workshops

Sunday Cafe workshops

Sunday Pavillion workshops




The 10th annual Melbourne Ukulele Festival (MUF) was held over the weekend of 16 &17 March 2019, with over 40 acts performing, along with open mic sessions, workshops and play-along sessions.

MUF, under the stewardship of Festival Director, Dean Denham, has always sought to challenge the expectations of what a ukulele festival program should contain, as evidenced by this year’s headliners — Mr Silla, a duo from Iceland and Germany, who gave us an epic effects-heavy performance with stunning vocals.

Icelandic Duo, Mr Silla, joined on stage by members of the Melbourne Ukulele Kollective, MUF 2019. Photo by Nick Pitsas

Other stand-outs were the Melbourne Ukulele Kollective covering Lou Reed’s “Transformer” album, the joyous Tyrone and Lesley, and new discovery, gushingly charming The Grubby Urchins, who closed the weekend with a delightful set of slightly twisted folk and sea shanties.

Chrissy Hogarth and friends. Photo by Nick Pitsas

All the attendees I spoke to seemed to have different favourite acts. There were a bunch of fantastic community groups as well as a couple of school groups. So there was plenty for everyone’s tastes, and always plenty of great new performers to chance upon.

Plus, it’s always fantastic to catch up with old friends and meet lots of new ones — it’s always a very social event.

Helen Begley from Chicks with Picks leading a workshop. Photo by Nick Pitsas.

The festival has varied in size and scale over the years according to the resources and funding available, and this year’s event was perhaps towards the more compact end of the scale, but the music was better than ever. Planning for next year’s festival is already under way, with a fresh new committee coming together, so look out for information on Melbourne Ukulele Festival’s Facebook page and website!

By Bernard from The Brass Traps & MUK, and a MUF Committee member