Pic 2The Kings Theatre, the main venue

The 2015 Great Southern Ukulele Festival

The first of these events, the festival was held in Portsmouth/Southsea on the 9th to 11th of October. Prinicipally organised by Ben Rouse, the event featured many world class acts performing in the beautiful Kings Theatre as well as workshops, open mic and jam events.

First big event was a grand Open Mic held in "The Loft" at the Kings Pub. Hosted by Krabbers, this gave everyone a chance to meet, and perform in front of festival goers and as an added bonus, use the same stage as many of the featured artists who also did open mic spots.

Simon performed his "Life Of Cat" song, and "I'm Sexy & I Know It" as some sort of weird warm up for people like Mike Hind and Aldrine Gurerro!

Saturday morning saw many workshops from strumming techniques to song writing and "Improving Your Product" - a kind of stage confidence and performance workshop held by Mike Hind, the one that Simon attended.,

More open mic followed in the Kings Pub, and then the main event started at 2pm in the Kings Theatre.

First, The Mother Ukers, a three piece band who bill themselves as 'Time Travellers, and the pioneers of Ukelear Fusion', always entertaining and a great opener to the show.

Then, Peter Moss, a very proficient player and singer. Host of the festival, Ben Rouse was up next with his thrash ukulele style of playing finishing with a great cover of an AC/DC number. Vix and Her Mischiefs, a three piece girl group, then 16 year old Michael Adcock who gives Ben Rouse a run for his money!

Pic 2The Hedge Inspectors

Then, Krabbers took the stage with many of his own compositions and his wife, the other half of the Hedge Inspectors joined for two songs. Mike finished with "Peace Of Rock" - his introduction of which brought tears of laughter, but then, emotion with this amazing song. Dead Man's Uke and The Mersey Belles closed the first half of the show - featuring "Video Killed The Radio Star", a novel interpretation of a classic pop song.

The second half was opened by Jono & The Uke Dealers. They can only be described as a punk/rock/uke band. Maybe they describe themselves as something better, but they have all original songs, I'm sure we will hear more of them in the future. Then as a complete contrast, they were followed by Belgian Ukulelezaza who calmed everyone down with his virtuoso playing of a Martin ukulele as well as one of his own made ukes.

Phil Doleman was up next with his classic 20s and 30s jazz songs also playing a cigar box uke made by Andy Miles. More of Andy's ukes appeared in an impromptu performance of "I wanna Be Like You" played on his Nano ukes. Then, we had Bermudan performer and entertainer, Mike Hind who did an unusually calm set, without many of his comedic performances often seen in his longer sets.

Victoria Vox from Baltimore was the penultimate act. Unusual with her mouth trumpet performance to accompany her ukulele playing, but it kind of grows on you!

Pic 2Aldrine Gurerro

Then, the headline act, Aldrine Gurerro of Ukulele Underground fame, together with his guitarist friend Aaron "The Voice" Nakamura. Aldrine's performance amazes with the speed, but the pure precision as he moves up and down the fretboard. Honestly, I don't think we spotted one bad note, he probably played more than all the other artists put together too! Has to be seen and heard to be believed.

There was a late night cabaret after the main show (which unfortunately, we didn't stay for) - hosted by Joe Black who had compered the main event. On the Sunday, more workshops and jams.

The whole event was very professionally put together, flowed without hitches and so much to do for ukulele players and enthusiasts of all tastes and abilities.

Pic 2The big finale

Well done Ben and the team.

More pictures feature in this gallery.



We are looking forward to next year. Beat that!