Three-hundred and fifty ukulele players from across the UK and beyond are lined up to get crowds dancing, at what is set to be the biggest and best Summer Strum ukulele festival in Hoylake this weekend.
Final preparations are under way for the event this weekend as 57 bands are on the bill to perform at the region’s biggest free ukulele festival, in Hoylake Rugby Club, on Saturday and Sunday July 6&7.
This year marks a landmark five years for the Summer Strum, with more than 2,000 music fans expected to enjoy acts in four performance spaces, including two main outdoor stages and music workshops in Melrose Hall.
Headliners the Splintered Ukes and the D’Ukes of Hazzard both from Liverpool will get the crowds dancing with their fun twist on rock and pop classics from the likes of Johnny Cash and the Rolling Stones to Britney Spears, the Stereophonics and Daft Punk.
Family entertainment will also include artisan food and drink stalls, open mic stages, yoga, Tai Chi, and a busking bus where anyone with a ukulele or other instrument is invited to play a song and record a video inside.
A downloadable song book has been produced for people to practise simple tunes to join in with, including covers of songs by the likes of The Cure, Erasure, S Club 7, Aha, Bob Marley, George Ezra, Lady Gaga, The Beatles and David Bowie.
The National Lottery funded Summer Strum has so far raised more than more than £10,000 for its nominated charities Wirral Mind and Wirral Hospice St John’s, to which all profits are donated, with thousands expected to be raised again this year.
Other home grown acts hail from across the North West including Chester, Wirral, Liverpool, Cheshire and Lancashire, with names such as Wirral Ukulele Fanatics, the Secret Ukulele Band, Ukulele Club Liverpool, Jefferson Milkfloat, Huyton Ukulele Troupe, Ukuleighties, Chester Ukes, River City Ukes, the YinYanBand, Neston Strummers, and Grateful Fred’s Ukelear Deterrent, featuring on the bill. Parisian artist Sebastien Tailhandier will bring an international flavour to the event.
Organisers Pat Ross-Davies from West Kirby and Emma Owen from Birkenhead, musicians with Wirral bands the Broken Strings and the Two Of Us, who are also on the bill to perform, say this year’s event at Hoylake Rugby Club is set to be their biggest and best yet.
There will be lots to get beginners and aspiring musicians involved, including sing along jam sessions, a children’s workshop, family pop song workshop, Diddley Bow making, and a song-writing workshop from Liverpool musician Alison Benson.
World famous ukulele legend Phil Doleman from Derbyshire will be running a morning Jug Band Workshop in the Clubhouse at Melrose Hall on Saturday.
Co-founder Pat Ross Davies said: “We are really excited about all of the acts and activities we’ve got lined up this year. We have so many fantastic musicians coming along, it’s going to be an amazing weekend of music, dancing and smiles!
“It’s a special year for us as it’s our fifth event, so we are delighted that we’ve been able to put on more entertainment than ever before to make it our biggest and best event yet.
“There’s lots on offer for all ages, whether you play the ukulele or not, we would encourage everyone to come down, get involved and have a good time!”
The Summer Strum was launched as a not-for profit event in 2014 with the goal of spreading wellbeing by providing a free event for ukulele players from across the region to come together.
Co-founder Emma Owen added: “We’ll have all the usual food and drink stalls, and some exciting new ones, so please do come along and support them too.
“We’re very grateful to all of the local businesses who support us and help us to make this a fantastic event, with all of the proceeds going to our two nominated charities Wirral Mind and Wirral Hospice St John’s.”
A ukulele ‘amnesty’ is also being held in which anyone attending the festival is invited to donate any unused instruments to be redistributed to community projects, in a bid to get more people playing, and spread the wellbeing music brings.
This year’s Saturday headliners the Splintered Ukes are regulars at the Handyman Pub on Smithdown Road in Liverpool, and earlier this year supported world famous Jake Shimabukuro at Grand Central Hall, when he signed a ukulele which will be raffled off at the Summer Strum.
Sunday headliners the D’Ukes of Hazzard are known for their popular weekly ukulele jams at Ma Egerton’s pub in Liverpool city centre. Spare ukuleles will be available at their Toast & Jam session from 10:30am on Sunday, but all instruments, voices and dancing are encouraged no matter your level of skill.
There will also be yoga and Tai Chi from Liverpool based wellbeing experts YinYan will be on the menu for Sunday morning in the Wellbeing Tent.
To find out more visit the festival website: www.summerstrum.com or find the event on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.