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When most of us think of the distinct sound of a Ukulele, it instantly conjures up images of sandy beaches, tropical cocktails and island life in our minds, right? Well, you’d be partially correct. It may come as a surprise that the US State of Utah, or more specifically Salt Lake City rates quite well as a Ukulele enthusiast’s destination of choice. The small yet powerful Hawaiian string-instrument is fairly new to the American mid-west in historical terms, yet among the rolling hills of Grandview Peak and the Great Salt Lake the soothing strums of the ukulele is making its mark.
In a city where the local music scene is predominantly led by genres like hip hop, rock and roll, punk and indie, the ukulele stands proud among its passionate fans. Need proof? The Utah Ukulele Association is probably your best place to start. They host regular events which include jam sessions and classes in the West High community and Kaysville, which are taught by Mr Steven Butler, a level 3 Certified Ukulele teacher trained at the James Hill Ukulele Institute. Want to see what it’s all about? Mr Butler is reachable by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Another fervent group of ukulele enthusiasts in the city are the Salt Lake Strummers. This 163-member strong band of players, whose abilities range from "not much" to "may or may not be a conductor" gathers once a month for group and individual performances. The attractive aspect for beginners at this group is that they give you a heads up about the setlist for the next gathering via their website which provides the proverbial new guy some time to practice in advance. A useful tool indeed for those who struggle to break the ice in new environments. Either way, it sounds like the perfect place to get to grips with and impress the gang with your new Bondi Ukulele-kit. The Salt Lake Strummers can be reached on www.meetup.com or on their website listed below.
For the festival enthusiasts there are opportunities readily available. The Utah Uke Fest in the Highland area in southern Salt Lake City offers a variety of options. Ukulele players of all levels are welcome to indulge in jam sessions, workshops, classes, an open mic event and the entire festival ends off with a concert where groups and bands can showcase their talents. And if you feel like taking a short trip, just over an hour’s drive away in Logan, Utah the Annual Ukulele Festival takes place around August in Willow Park, Logan. Details for these festivals can be obtained at the links below.
So, if you’re a Salt Lake City local with a passion for ukuleles, music, learning and meeting some new folks in the same game, you are all set and have no excuses to get out there and become part of the rapidly expanding community of ukulele aficionados in the state where life is elevated in every way. Who knows, with practice and your newfound resources your ukulele skills might even surpass your highest elevated expectations and those of your family, friends and new jam session friends.
Final thought – some reports indicate that there is a law against carrying unwrapped ukuleles in public in Salt Lake City. Not sure if it’s enforced at all but rather be safe than sorry and transport your ukulele in its case (which, if you love ukuleles as much as we do should go without saying).
Keep strumming, all!
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