Albuquerque Ukekopelli Festival offers ukulele fun for everyone

King of the Ukulele - Ralph Shaw
“King of the Ukulele,” Ralph Shaw will teach workshops and perfrm at the Albuquerque Ukepelli Festival.
Ukuleles are sweeping the world in popularity and festivals are popping up all over. Albuquerque is no exception, with the third Albuquerque Ukekopelli Festival taking place September 28 through October 1 at the African American Performing Arts Center. The festival, this year with the theme The Ukulele Supper Club, features a Friday evening concert with the look and feel of a 1949 television variety show, workshops all day Saturday and Sunday morning for every level of player, and a special kids’ songwriting workshop Sunday morning.

Festival organizer Gary Wells is excited about this year’s theme. He says, “When you’re at the concert Friday night, you’ll feel just like you’re in a live television studio audience back in 1949!” Instructor/performers from around the country and even across the “pond” will be part of the show. Mark Baker will be here from Arizona, Dani Joy will come from her home in California, and Gracie Terzian will travel from New York, while Ralph Shaw, “The King of the Ukulele,” is joining the cast from his home in England.

Plenty of other instructors, including Bob Hull (Chief Musical Officer of the Las Cruces Ukes), Auttem Foglia, John Bartlit, Lewis Winn, and Sage Harrington, will be part of the workshop schedule, providing a full-day track of music theory and song writing, plus classes for beginners to advanced players. In fact, you don’t even have to own a ukulele to participate as loaners will be available for those who want to come see what the excitement is all about.

Playing and learning all day works up an appetite, and participants at the festival be able to satisfy their hunger with breakfast and lunch available to purchase from Kimo’s Hawaiian BBQ food truck, which will be parked on site throughout the day Saturday.

Sunday morning’s workshops kick off with The Gospel According to Uke, facilitated by retired pastor and Las Cruces Ukes board member Gorton Smith. This session provides the opportunity to share some spiritual songs as a group before going on to the rest of the morning sessions.

The festival will also include vendors so attendees can add to their ukulele collections and a drawing, with lots of great prizes available.

The host hotel for out-of-town attendees is the Albuquerque Marriott, 2101 Louisiana Blvd. NE. A special festival rate of $91 per night is available for festival attendees. Link to the reservation page through the event website at

Registration for the festival is also done online through Brown Paper Tickets. Go to the “Tickets” page on the website to make reservations and pre-order a T-shirt. The full festival is $115, and only $60 for the second immediate family member to register. Partial-day registrations are also available.

The full schedule and instructor information are available at Updates are posted regularly at For more information, call Gary Wells at (505) 681-3687 or e-mail