Las Vegas is fondly nicknamed the “Ninth Island” because it’s a favorite among Hawaiians. The food, culture and music of the islands are greatly enjoyed by Las Vegas locals, which is why we’ll be celebrating “Play Your Ukulele Day” on February 2.
According to a feature story in The Atlantic, the ukulele’s “chunk-a-chunk sound, whispery nylon strings and diminutive body” attracts “a new generation of musicians jaded by electric guitars.” This is certainly true for Las Vegas. In a city were some of the best-paid musicians are DJs, there is an undeniable appeal to the humble “uke,” as fans call it.
Popular today, the ukulele actually dates back to the late 1800s, when Portuguese visitors brought the predecessor to the ukulele to Hawaii. Locals were delighted and King Kalākaua helped popularize and establish ukulele in Hawaiian culture.
Here are two fun ways to celebrate “Play Your Ukulele Day”:
Give Ukulele playing a try. Think you could never play a musical instrument? Thank again! One of the coolest things about the ukulele is that it’s relatively inexpensive and easy to learn. Pick up a uke for about 50 bucks and then visit the Ukulele Club of Las Vegas for a friendly, welcoming environment, where “beginners are encouraged to come and join in.” As founder Lynn Weaver states: It’s impossible to be unhappy when playing and/or listening to a ukulele.
Watch Some Live Music. No matter your musical skill, or lack thereof, you can always enjoy listening to some great ukulele tunes. Check out rising Hawaiian star Paula Fuga. Discovered by musician Jack Johnson, her uniquely gorgeous sounds draws influences from Hawaiian tradition as well as from Motown and reggae. Fuga has even played The White House, but she is most proud of her work to “give back to the community by empowering our youth.” Fuga visits The Smith Center on May 6-7 with Hawaiian Slack Key Guitarist Makana.
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