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THE SANTA FE UKULELE SCENE
Santa Fe: Desert, Dirt And Ukuleles
The ukulele scene in New Mexico’s north is growing, and its capital is fast becoming known as one of the best places to play the ukulele.
Sitting in the Sangre de Cristo foothills, Santa Fe is renowned for its Pueblo-style architecture and as a creative arts hotbed. Its crooked streets wind past buildings made of sun-dried brick and give it its nickname: The City Different, for its unique collection of historic, natural, and robust culture and architecture.
With its orange clay buildings and backdrop of barren desert, Sante Fe is the perfect place to wind down and relax. And if you happen to visit, you won’t have a hard time hearing the mellifluous sounds of the ukulele.
New Mexico’s capital boasts a booming ukulele scene, and its main uke group, the Santa Fe Ukulele and Social Club, is a great place to start if you don’t know what to sample first. Facilitated by Craig McClelland, the four-year-old Santa Fe club is a loose group of about 30 members who meet twice a month. The club’s evening begins with an educational half-hour led by McClelland, followed by an hour of playing songs from popular books like Jim Beloff’s The Daily Ukuelele, or ones brought in by members.
According to Ukulele Mag, Craig’s relationship with the uke started when he was given a Harmony soprano to mess with as a kid. Since then, he has lived in nearby Albuquerque, majored in music at the University of New Mexico and premiered Strings Attached, the first ukulele musical at the American Folklore Theatre.
His creation, the Santa Fe Ukulele and Social Club, is a dedicated group of ukulele players who normally meet on the first and third Monday of each month upstairs at Los Alamos National Bank’s community room at 301 Griffin St. Santa Fe from 6:00pm to 8:00pm, though location changes can and do happen, and are posted on the group’s Facebook page when the club needs to meet somewhere else. The open jam/meeting welcomes players of all skill levels and often plays to The “Yellow” Daily Ukulele song book.
If you’re looking to meet more like-minded uke enthusiasts, the Albuquerque Ukekopelli Festival is the city’s closest ukulele festival. If you play the ukulele, want to learn how to play the four-stringed instrument, or know someone who does, mark your calendar for September of every year and take the one-hour drive to Albuquerque for the three-day event. The festival kicks off with a Friday evening concert that changes theme each year. All-day workshops feature nationally touring instructors like Lil Rev, Hiedi Swedberg, Daniel Ward, Sid Hauseman and Washtub Jerry, and learners have the ability to take seven classes, allowing participants to customize their ukulele learning experience.
Don’t have a ukulele? You can buy one there. Have a ukulele? Then you probably know that it’s impossible to have just one. Local music stores are on hand to help with your UAS (Ukulele Acquisition Syndrome). And if you’re lucky, you may even get yours for free. The festival draws for a number of ukuleles and other goodies every year.
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What you get:
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- Ukulele Chord Chart ($14.95)
- Fretboard Stickers ($9.95)
- Microfiber Cleaning Cloth ($7.95)
$52.80 of Goodies for FREE
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