Downtown Clearwater will host a daylong Ukulele Fest in the District on Saturday to both educate and entertain with the small four-stringed instrument that has seen a surge in popularity.
Affordable, portable and fun to play, the ukulele is rated as one of the easiest instruments for beginners to learn. And the National Association of Music Merchants has reported a boom in sales of the instrument, with double-digit increases every year since it started tracking sales in 2010. Eddie Vedder added cool luster when he released his Grammy-winning 2011 album Ukulele Songs, and ukulele player Jake Shimabukuro has sold out concert halls all over the world.
Downtown Clearwater gets in on the act Saturday with a free festival that will offer 45-minute introductory courses throughout the day as well as continuous entertainment by well-known local and national artists on the 400 block of Cleveland Street.
There will also be group jams and “strums and strolls” by up to 50 players throughout the day. Musicians Steve and Amanda Boisen and The Birdwatchers will perform a concert at 6:30 p.m. at Peace Memorial Church.
It’s organized by the Tampa Bay Ukulele Society. With an active base of 3,000 members, TBUS says it is the largest and most active ukulele club in the world.
If you go
Ukulele Festival in the District: Free daylong series of ukulele entertainment, beginner workshops, master classes for advanced players and a free gala evening concert. 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday on the 400-500 blocks of Cleveland Street in downtown Clearwater, with a concert at 6:30 p.m. at Peace Memorial Church, 110 S Fort Harrison Ave., Clearwater. There will be a pre-concert meet-and-greet reception at 5 p.m. to benefit the Clearwater Free Clinic. Free tickets are available at ukulelefestinthedistrict.com.
Free beginner workshops take place at 12:30, 2, and 3:15 p.m. at 400 Cleveland St. Advanced master classes taught by the concert performers are at 1:15 and 3 p.m. at Peace Memorial Church. $40 for both master classes at ukulelefestinthedistrict.com.
Tampa Bay Times correspondent Amy Scherzer contributed to this report.