Honolulu Uke Festival

Roy Sakuma, Clarence Hirakawa and Herb Ohta ("Ohta San") at the 19th Annual Honolulu Ukulele Festival. Roy Sakuma has produced the show for nearly a quarter of a century and runs a very successful ukulele school in Honolulu. Chances are good that if you come across a youngster in Hawai'i with a ukulele in her hand, she's a student of Sakuma's school! Mr. Hirakawa is an excellent player from Japan who appears yearly at the festival. I was happy to meet him the year I played the fest. Ohta San is a wonderful player who has issued dozens of recordings over the years and some have called him the world's best uke player. The festival primarily features the youngsters, sometimes a hundred or more, and takes place on the first Sunday of each August in the bandshell at Kapiolani Park in Honolulu. Not pictured here but who should be mentioned is Lyle Ritz, a legendary ukulele player who is also a studio bass player, having played with the likes of Frank Sinatra and others. Ritz' style of playing fascinated the Hawai'ian players when hewas in Hawai'i in the early fifties. He did not know of his impact until the festival promoters went looking for him as a guest of honor in the first festival. He was flabberghasted, the story goes, to have so many fans. He retired and moved to Honolulu where he now teaches and plays.

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