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UkeFest is May 20-22; ukulele concert is Friday, May 20, at NMSU Music Building


The ukulele is part of the lute family and traces its roots to Portugal. The name is roughly translated from Hawaiian as “jumping flea.”

Good music is “mele maikaʻi” in Hawaiian, and that is what you can expect during Las Cruces UkeFest 2022, which is this weekend, Friday-Sunday, May 20-22 at the NMSU Music Building and New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum. The festival is hosted by Las Cruces Ukes, a nonprofit formed in 2013.

UkeFest registration is limited this year to 100 fully vaccinated participants, Ukefest coordinator Cheryl Fallstead said.

One of the highlights will be the Ukefest concert, 7 p.m. Friday, May 20, at Atkinson Recital Hall, NMSU Music Building 1075 N. Horseshoe St., NMSU campus. It will include Grammy winner Daniel Ho, Grammy nominee Casey MacGill, Del Rey and the Dani Joy Duo (Dani Joy and Perry Stuaffer). Hundreds of seats are available for the concert.

“The Las Cruces UkeFest concert is a great opportunity to experience the diversity of music which can be performed on the humble ukulele,” Fallstead said. “With six-time Grammy-award winner Daniel Ho and our other performers, it’s going to be a wonderful evening of music!”

Kids 12 and under can attend the concert for free with a paying adult; adult tickets are $10.

Here is the schedule for Saturday-Sunday, May 21-22 at UkeFest:

  • Saturday, May 21, New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum, 4100 Dripping Springs Road: 9 a.m.: Registration, 9:15 a.m.: welcome; 9:45 a.m.: workshops begin; noon: lunch and open mic; 1:15 p.m.: workshops continue; 5 p.m.: Prize drawings; 7:30 p.m.: jam session.
  • Sunday, May 22: New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum: 9 a.m.: Ukulele Swap Meet opens, 10:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m.: workshops.

Instructors include: Del Rey, whom Ukulele Magazine called “one of the ukulele’s most important players and teachers”; and Casey MacGill, who bought his first ukulele in the early 1960s and teaches, records and performs, and leads the Casey MacGill Trio and Casey MacGill and His High Five in Seattle. Other instructors are: Gorton Smith, a Las Cruces Ukes board member and retired Las Cruces Methodist pastor, who has been playing the ukulele since 2014; ukulele player and vocalist Dani Joy and multi-instrumentalist Perry Stauffer, who are co-founders of Dani Joy Music Academy and comprise the Dani Joy Duo; and Los Angeles-based Daniel Ho, a six-time Grammy winner, ukulele virtuoso, slack key guitarist, multi-instrumentalist, composer, arranger, singer-songwriter, producer, audio engineer and record company owner.

More about Las Cruces Ukes

Las Cruces Ukes has since given nearly 90 performances around the community in the past nine years and has added a teen club. Las Cruces Ukes practice weekly on Thursdays at Good Samaritan/Las Cruces Village, 3011 Buena Vida Circle. The Strum for Fun group (the best to drop in for a visit) gets together 5:30-6:15 p.m. The performance group practices 6:20-7:30 p.m.

Las Cruces Ukes held its first full-scale festival, including a sold-out concert, in 2017. More than 300 ukulele lovers attended the 2018 festival. The fourth festival was postponed from 2020 and 2021 to this year because of the pandemic.

Visit www.lascrucesukes.com and Facebook.com/lascrucesukes.