Hard-core ukulele fans flock to Waubeeka Golf Course for Uke Fest


Photo Gallery | Berkshire County Uke Fest

WILLIAMSTOWN — Ken Pallman of Bennington, Vt., was showing off his ukulele collection on Sunday at the annual Ukulele Festival held this year at the Waubeeka Golf Course.

Pallman had nine of them, of various shapes and sizes. One would expect Pallman to be a sort of ukulele expert, a longtime performer who has had a love affair with the instrument for years.

Not really.

"I'm a novice," he said. "I've been playing for a year. But I fell in love with ukuleles. I have UAS: ukulele acquisition syndrome."

Pallman isn't alone. The Ukulele Festival, organized by musician Bernice Lewis, attracts a pretty hard-core crowd of people who just love this little four-stringed instrument.

"It's an addiction," said Lewis, who also plays the guitar. "People love the ukulele because it's so easy to play."

The event featured some pretty good ukulele players. Headliner Stuart Fuchs has played with symphony orchestras, music festivals and was an artist-in-residence at Roswell Park's Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y. Upstate ukulele maestro Michael Eck has performed with such luminaries as Pete Seeger, 10,000 Maniacs, John Sebastian, REM's Peter Buck and many others.

Lewis' own Ladies Auxiliary Ukulele Orchestra was also on the bill.

"This isn't your grandmother's ukulele group," cracked Lewis. "No grass skirts, no cocoanut bras."

Badeliene Madeleine and Mariah Colorado rounded out yesterday's bill. The event went from 3 to 7 p.m. on Sunday in a dining area in the clubhouse. A good crowd was on hand, including Steve Rubenstein and his wife Jeanne Rothman of Chatham, N.Y.

Rothman is a fledgling uke player.

"It's a great instrument to play, because it's so easy to learn," she said. "You can learn a couple song in a really short time.

"I've never played in front of anyone except Steve," she said. "He's the only one who's ever heard me."

"And that," said Rubenstein, "is my price of admission.

"It's a beautiful fall day, it's the Berkshires and we're hear to hear ukulele music," he said, answering why he and his wife made the trip. "Why not?"

Contact Derek Gentile at 413-496-6251.


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