Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Once again, San Francisco celebrates the ukulele

The ukulele had precursors in Portugal and was developed in Hawaii, but it was popularized during the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. Now the uke is coming home to the scene of that triumph in a festival and related museum exhibition that celebrate the history and culture of the four-stringed instrument.

The San Francisco Ukulele Festival, to be held September 7-8 at Yerba Buena Gardens in San Francisco, will feature an opening night benefit concert by ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro and a full day of performances by well-known uke-centric soloists and bands.

[Photo: Jake Shimabukuro]

For a month before and after the festival (August 2-October 21), the Museum of Craft and Folk Art presents "Evolution of the Ukulele: The Story of Hawaii's Jumping Flea," an exhibition exploring the history and fine craft of the popular instrument. Related events presented by the museum include a lecture and concert by ukulele historian John King (August 4), a demonstration of ukulele building (August 19) and a studio tour of a Berkeley CA ukulele luthier (October 13).

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