(WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass.) – The ukulele is one of the hottest instruments in popular and folk music these days, and this Sunday, September 23, 2012, The Clark hosts the second annual Ukulele Festival, featuring a half-dozen performers from 4 to 6 p.m. The event is free, as are ukulele workshops at 2pm. Performers include the Ladies Auxiliary Ukulele Orchestra, Jim & Liz Beloff, Honor Finnegan, and Michelle J. Rodriguez.
Formed in 1994, The Ladies Auxiliary Ukulele Orchestra now includes songwriter and educator Bernice Lewis and educator Bernice McMahon. The Ladies Auxiliary Ukulele Orchestra performs originals as well as re-invents standard favorites. Their set list features songs from every musical era, ranging from Mozart to the Andrews Sisters, from Led Zeppelin to Radiohead. Michelle J Rodriuez will be joining the ensemble on vocals for this event.
“Jumpin’ Jim” Beloff and his wife, Liz Maihock Beloff, are at the forefront of the contemporary ukulele movement, spreading their motto, “Uke Can Change The World,” through instruction and songbooks, how-to DVDs, and concert and teaching appearances. Since 1992, the couple has operated Flea Market Music, a company devoted to the ukulele that has developed 25 ukulele songbooks published and distributed by the Hal Leonard Corporation, with sales of over 400,000 copies. The Beloffs regularly perform together throughout the U.S. and Australia.
Honor Finnegan is the Susan Boyle of quirky indie folk. Her songs are humorous then heartbreaking with melodies that soar. Based in New York City, she has been making a splash in the northeastern regional folk scene with her original songs and ukulele playing. Combining elements of musical theatre, improvisation, traditional folk, and poetry, Finnegan was selected for the 2012 Falcon Ridge Folk Festival Emerging Artist Showcase. Her CD, The Tiny Life, was #9 on the Folk DJ charts for February 2012, receiving airplay at such notable stations as WFMT (Chicago), WFUV (New York), WXPN (Philadelphia), and WUMB (Boston).
Michelle J. Rodriguez is a singer/songwriter and musical theatre composer. She graduated from Williams College in June where she majored in Theatre and Arabic Studies. Regionally, she has performed alongside Bernice Lewis, The Bengsons and Patti Larkin. She is the Artist in Residence in the Williams College Theatre Department this fall, where she will be music directing her original bluegrass-influenced musical, East o’ West o’! Rodriguez currently resides in Monteverde, Costa Rica, where she teaches theatre, music and art at the Monteverde Friends School.