Ukelilli is a singer-songwriter with a comedy/folk/pop sensibility, hailing from the Washington, D.C. suburb of Chevy Chase (no relation). Now living in Los Angeles, Ukelilli has been building a passionate cult following thanks to her adorable persona and quirky repertoire of songs. At a Ukelilli show you’re likely to hear everything from an ode to the films of Jean-Claude Van Damme to a twisted loved song called “I Love You So Much (I’d Prefer It If You Were Not Dead).”
Ukelilli has recorded 7 albums, 4 of which are currently available for sale through iTunes, CDBaby, and at stores all over LA, including the famed Ameoba Music. Her music video, “Vote for Obama,” was a YouTube viral hit in the last election. (Obama has so far declined to comment on Ukelilli, but Washington scuttlebutt has it he’s a fan.) Her music has been featured on the soundtrack of a Zappos commercial, the international festival-winning short film Cracks, indie feature Natural Victims, and on the “Intern Journal” on The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou DVD.
ABDUL KHAN & THE PROJECTIONS (Pakistan/UK)
You can’t stop the music from being heard, even if it sometimes does take a long time to happen. Abdul Khan came to England in 1963 from a destitute and abused Pakistan. Abdul teamed up with Andrew Hodson (Ukele) who manages the studio at his local arts centre. Andy began to fulfil Abdul’s dream of becoming a musician. Andy arranged Abdul’s melodies and ‘beautified’ the songs he wrote 40 years ago. This collaboration revived a new creative spark in Abdul which caused several more new songs to flow from his pen. This ‘spark’ is still flickering just as brightly and with the addition of Julie Peak (Cello), Kevin Roache (Guitar), Norman Knight (Bass Guitar) and JuJu (Percussion) the blue touch paper has now been lit, so stand well back.
The band’s sound is East by Northwest. You will never before have heard anything like the spiritual, indie, lyrical, ukele led fusion of Abdul Khan and the Projections.
LADY K & HER KOOKY KITCHEN (Finland)
Helsinki-born Lady K sings with the wild original spirit of burlesque, Tin Pan Alley, vaudeville and naughty blues; songs by Peggy Lee, Mae West and Fanny Brice.
Her musical inspirations: Eartha Kitt, Julia Lee, Josephine Baker. Her sartorial inspirations: Edith Head, Mae West and Louise Brooks. Lady K likes moustaches on men, Art Deco-coffee rooms and grand pianos played at department stores.
A Lancashire lad, born and bred, Mark “Piecan” Hodgson had been playing drums in various bands for 25 years, and performing unsolicited poetry in chip shops and off licences when he heard the call of the uke. At last, here was an instrument even he could manage! One year and twenty or so songs later, he felt ready to face an audience. Still a relative newcomer to the Uke scene, Mark has slowly been building a reputation for a wry sense of humour, energetic performance and stylish turn of phrase. He attended Raystock 09 Uke festival, Suffolk (where he was invited to play for the Mayor’s birthday party!) and has performed regularly at Wigan folk club and various open mics throughout the North West. As Les Dawson once said: “Not bad, if you like laughing.”
DIRTY DIAMONDS (UK)
Dirty Diamonds are three Newcastle-based musicians; Nicky Rushton, Sarah van Jellie and Richard Bliss. They have also performed variously as members of Mush, the Camp Vamps and All Because the Lady Loves.
The trio will perform a set of original material based on the idea that less is more. Multi-uked and multi-vocalled they blend tenor, alto and soprano ukuleles for your delight.
Their influences range from Bananarama to Kraftwerk (with a sprinkling of French and Saunders), and they were overwhelming people’s choice from UM II in 2008.
VACATION PIONEERS (UK)
Vacation Pioneers began playing as a 3 piece in summer 2008 and despite the name evoking scenes of tinted shades, carefree days and 2 weeks with pay, Vacation Pioneers are a warm acoustic blanket of guitar, cello, ukulele and glockenspiel to wrap up in on a chilly winters night. Having clear DIY ethics they have been described with having, “A muted pop vibe with lovely autumnal songs” and, “Lyrics ranging from English whimsy to the genuinely affecting.”
EILIDH MACASKILL (UK)
In 2007 Eilidh Macaskill performed a ukulele act every single day. Sometimes in the street, sometimes at parties, sometimes in theatres, and sometimes just at home with her cat. The project ended on December 31 2007, but has been followed by a series of performances that have kept audiences in stitches, and awed by her songs of small ads and junk mail.
Back by popular demand, Eilidh will perform a set based on Eilidh’s Daily Ukulele Ceilidh, which combines original songs, information about the ukulele and documentation of the project.
Jason Thompson and Andy Curtis have between them over 60 years of musical experience and performance expertise in a staggeringly improbable range of genres including gentle folk acoustic, electronica, Norwegian Metal, musical theatre and Japanese Punk. Drawing on an even wider range of influences, performing as Sekksyünkel, they fuse the very best bits of all major recording and performing artists since time began, to bring a unique and disturbing musical soundscape to the unprepared and unwilling ears of almost everyone they meet. Using the finest ukuleles, bass guitar, kazoos and percussion, the idea is very simple and starkly effective – entertain, disturb and educate in equal measure. And the education but isn’t all that important. Featuring a set of brand new songs and sounds created specially for UMIII this guarantees to be the experience of a lifetime (not an actual guarantee).
Williwaw is a violent squall, and also a sonic malestrom produced by the two hands, two feet, four strings, and many forms of amplification under the direction of Bill Whitmer. Since a rainy day in Champaign, Illinois in 1994, williwaw has, as Monica Kendrick wrote, “nimbly piloted his unlikely vehicle into uncharted territory again and again, making pulsating, variegated, beautiful noise” (Chicago Reader, 2006). Williwaw also curates the loose, enthralling collective of nimble fingers and nylong strings known not so cleverly as the williwaw ensemble. Williwaw is a recovering ethnomusicologist who masquerades as a hearing scientist, whatever that exactly is; he used to play trumpet, once studied music theory, and knows too much about ‘ukuleles and auditory psychophysics to be such a fruitless loaf. Both williwaw and the ensemble have performed in counterpoint to many fine silent reels, including moving pictures by Bruckman, Clair, Dovshenko, Horne, Kennedy, Messmer and Pudovkin, among others.
UNSUNG NATIONAL HEROES (UK)
Are Dave Cowling and Mickey Dixon and are based in Sheffield. Mickey and Dave met about 10 years ago whilst playing in the much-acclaimed musical maelstrom once known, as Duff. When Duff died the two promised to make beautiful music together someday. That day was a long time a-coming. When Dave discovered the uke, an uncanny alchemy began to smoulder. Songs began to flow like cool stout ale. Quintessentially English songs tainted with the bittersweet came forth and multiplied and begat Unsung National Heroes. Think Chas, think Dave think Suggs, a smattering of Eric Idle, Paul Heaton, and you are part way there. These are catchy, simple songs to tap your tiptoes to.