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

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