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THE CHARLOTTESVILLE UKULELE SCENE
Ukulele Riding A Wave Of Popularity In Charlottesville, Virginia
Many people think the ukulele’s roots originated in Hawaii, but did you know that the mighty little instrument actually came from a different island?
Madeira, a small mountainous speck of land in the Atlantic southwest of Portugal, is the actual birthplace of the beloved uke, and it’s not entirely unlike the islands of Hawaii. Madeira has a tropical climate, is part of a volcanic archipelago and, two centuries ago, was a popular tourist spot for European visitors who were drawn to exotic landscapes and picturesque beaches. But by the mid 1880s, poverty, famine and a series of natural disasters led to the collapse of the island, and Portuguese immigrants were eventually shipped to a new promise land: Hawaii.
With them was the little four-stringed machete: What the ukulele was – and is – known as in Madeira.
Since that fateful day nearly 140 years ago, the diminutive instrument has ridden a seemingly unstoppable wave of popularity in America, reaching musicians coast to coast and everywhere in between. In every state, communities have made their own clubs, meetups and festivals – including Charlottesville, Virginia.
The central Virginian city has one main uke group, which exists for the purpose of improving member’s skills and – of course – having fun. The Charlottesville UVA Ukulele Lodge is open to uke enthusiasts of all skill levels and meets regularly to ensure members get consistent practice. The group use to meet at Cville Coffee at 1301 Harris Street, but now meets at The Front Porch at 221 East Water St once a month at 7:00pm. Meetings use the Yellow Original Edition of the Daily Ukulele, which can be found on Amazon for members who don’t already have one.
Those looking to attend a ukulele festival won’t find one in Charlottesville, but will find Virginia’s Uke Fest an hour away in Glen Allen. The annual event held around November of every year features an array of concerts, workshops, ukulele jams, open mics, artisan sales and displays. Craft and food vendors are also always on hand.
Whether you’re looking for like-minded enthusiasts to play with or just somewhere to practice, you’ll find what you’re looking for in Charlottesville, Virginia.
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