This last weekend, April 15-17, 2016, I attended the Third Annual Allegheny Ukulele Soiree. It was a two day festival put on by the Allegheny Ukulele Kollective.
It was held at the Laurel Lodge in Duncansville, PA. near Altoona. The festival included workshops for all levels of ukulele players, jams, open mics and the “Petting Zoo” where anyone attending can sample ukuleles from Kala to Mya Moe.
When I arrived on Friday, April 15, at 5:30 p.m. for registration I was greeted by a friendly group of people who checked me in and gave me a packet that explained what was available that weekend. There were workshops on Saturday and Sunday, for all uke players (beginning to advanced), as well as concerts Friday and Saturday evening.
The first thing I needed to figure out was what level player I am. If I took the wrong class it might over my head or I might be bored. I decided, by following their description of different skill levels in the booklet, that I am an Intermediate player. The classes I took were perfect for that level. I understood what was being taught and never felt any of the teachers were teaching over my head.
The classes were taught by members of the Kollective as well as those performing at the concerts. It is a really great group of people who are accepting of everyone no matter what their age or skill level. I felt welcomed and comfortable.
This year I took advantage of the dining package which allowed me to stay at the lodge all day on Saturday. Breakfast, lunch and dinner were prepared by the lodge’s staff and I got to hang out with fellow uke players the entire day without having to leave to find a place to eat.
There were also movies shown during the day that are about the ukulele and there was a vendor area where instruments and accessories were sold. All of this was in the same building which I found very convenient. The lodge is in the foothills which provided us with a fantastic view and plenty of room to take classes and hang out.
I stayed after registration for the Friday evening concert which featured Mim, Rachel Manke and Gerald Ross. It was so much fun! They are all so talented and personable plus they were instructors for the weekend.
Saturday was packed with workshops, meals and an evening concert. The performers for that evening were Skye Zentz, Gerald Ross and Paul Hemmings. They were all great performers. A great time was had by all.
There were also drawings for different ukulele’s Friday and Saturday night. I purchased a “few” tickets and ended up winning the uke I really wanted- Kala’s new Baritone Thin Line. Can you say excited?
Last year was a one day event. Many people wanted a two day Soiree and it happened. I know putting on something like this is a lot of work for many people not the least of which is Mike Holzer. He is the Allegheny Ukes Co-Director and Chief Uke Evangelist. He had a great team of people who helped put this together and run it for the weekend. Add in the performers and instructors and it is as close to uke heaven as you will get.
My suggestion is to plan ahead for next years event. It will be the 4th year of the Soiree and who knows what they will come up with? I am sure it will be great!