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THE WICHITA UKULELE SCENE
Think “Kansas” and Dorothy, the Cowardly Lion, the Tin Man and the Straw Fellow immediately comes to mind. Not too far away from Dorothy’s house is the city of Wichita, Kansas. A booming industrial location featuring quite a few aircraft factories is intertwined with a uniquely cultural experience. Wichita is alleged to have been the birthplace of the electric guitar, and considering the high number of live music theatres one can see how that may have been possible in the town that used to be under the protection of legendary lawman Wyatt Earp back in the old days.
In a city flooded with history and diversity, the ukulele is treading some significant tracks here and one group of folks responsible for this is the Wichita Ukulele Society. They feature in Guy Vollin’s (composer, publisher) blog and he described witnessing their performance as a “Ukulelepalooza” or “Ukulelepocalypse”. The Wichita Ukulele Society meets every first Saturday of the month for jam sessions and can be reached on the web link below. I’ve also added Guy’s blog details as an added bonus.
Ms Judy and Ms Sarah Jane are Wichita locals who love to teach the art of Ukulele to students of any age. They offer classes for beginners, intermediate and advanced levels. Also on offer is a six-week group course year-round with once a week classes, and if that’s not enough Ms Sarah Jane can also schedule some private lessons for those who like to progress at a bit of a faster pace. For younger students the pair focus on skills such as note-reading, rhythm training and motor skills development. If you’d like to get in touch with this dynamic duo, they are reachable on their website listed below.
Only a thirty-minute drive north, the Newton Ukulele Tunes Society (NUTS) is an open group of ukulele enthusiasts ranging in abilities who get together once a month to make a “joyful noise” according to their Facebook page. Their repertoire includes a whole host of hits, oldies and adaptations of new songs, and a crowd favourite is their own version of “If you’re happy and you know it… strum your Uke!”. I’m sure you’ll agree that this sounds like just the place to show off your Bondi Ukulele. The Newton Ukulele Society can be reached through their Facebook page which is listed below.
Wichita sure seems like a place filled with a friendly bunch of people who know how to have a good time with their beloved ukuleles by their side. So if you’re a Kansas native or just feel like finding an interesting new place to strum your Bondi Uke, pack your snowshoes and windbreakers and head on over to the central hub of the Sunflower State where your inner Ukulele maestro could be unleashed upon the fields of the Midwest. Heck, you might even be known as the Wyatt Earp of the ukulele, with strums so fast it’ll make the wind seem like it’s standing still.
Keep strumming, all!
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