May 26-29, 2017
Uke Fest   Recently updated !

Uke Fest photos by Stewart Dean View more on Flickr

Uke Fest
Friday, May 26-Monday, May 29, 2017

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Announcing our 5th annual family-friendly weekend retreat for ukulele players of all skill levels! Workshops, concerts, jam sessions, great food and lots of fun. Tuition includes all classes, meals and the Saturday night concert featuring James Hill and Anne Janelle. Bring the family and enjoy a weekend of music and friends in a gorgeous natural setting, rich in history. Children and teens are welcome to attend with a guardian. Youth discounts and scholarships are available.


Can’t make it for the whole weekend? Don’t miss out on this chance to see two amazing performers on stage! Join us for the May 27th concert featuring James Hill and Anne Janelle.  Open to the public. Tickets are included in camp tuition.

Thank you to these event sponsors

Kala Brand Music Co.

Ukulele Magazine

Ukulele Magazine,
Stringletter Publishing

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D’Addario Strings

Instructors & Workshops for 2017… an unbelievable group of ukulele greats!

Meet the instructors on the first day of camp, then decide what workshops you want to take!

Gerald Ross, Uke Fest Organizer and Instructor

Visit Gerald’s website

Gerald Ross is comfortable with just about every type of “roots” music there is, from western swing, bluegrass, Hawaiian, blues, jug band music, jazz standards, Tin Pan Alley, New Orleans rhythms to boogie-woogie, and he plays it all on guitar, lap steel, Dobro and ukulele.

He’s performed in concert with Bonnie Raitt, Arlo Guthrie, Doc Watson, Johnny Gimble, Riders In The Sky, Brownie McGhee and many others. Gerald won the Solo Artist Category of the 1993 WEMU Jazz Competition and has appeared many times on “A Prairie Home Companion.”

These days, Gerald is one of America’s best-known performers on, and advocates for, the ukulele and lap steel guitar; he’s released several CDs of ukulele music, published instructional materials, and is very much in demand as a camp instructor.

Gerald’s Workshops

Three note chords –  All you need to get that bluesy/jazzy sound.
(Confident beginner to intermediate)
Just because the ukulele has four strings doesn’t mean you have to play them all! Many times, you can say more musically with two or three notes than you can with four. We will learn how easy it is to finger three-note chords that sound much more bluesy and jazzy than their four-note counterparts.  Simple Blues songs will be used to demonstrate this very effective, very hip-sounding style.  No music theory needed, no music reading required, no knuckle-busting chord shapes to learn… just fun! Any sized uke tuned GCEA will work. Please contact Gerald with any questions at:


James Hill & Anne Janelle

Visit James and Anne’s website

It’s true: opposites attract. James Hill, “possibly the best ukulele player in the world” (Waikato Times), grew up playing folk, jazz and blues on his ukulele. Anne Janelle, “a cellist of true beauty” (Ottawa Citizen), played only classical music on her cello. But the pair’s differences became their greatest asset: the uke is high, the cello is low; the uke plays short notes, the cello long bow strokes; the uke is all about strumming while the cello radiates melody.

In 2009, James and Anne released True Love Don’t Weep, an album of duets that garnered a Canadian Folk Music Award for Traditional Album of the Year. A mixture of traditional tunes with “fresh vitality” (Country Music People) and original songs, True Love Don’t Weep showcased the duo’s ability “to capture the soul of a song” (Folk World).

Since True Love Don’t Weep, James and Anne have released two solo albums each (James’ Man with a Love Song and The Old Silo; Anne’s Beauty Remains and So Long at the Fair) and toured in over 15 countries, making their mark not only as accomplished instrumentalists but also as some of the finest songwriters of their generation. Together, they conjure a sound that is intricate, enchanting and engaging: “a crystal clear sound filled with warmth” (Bob Mersereau, CBC Radio). In concert, James is “a dazzling live performer with a genial, low-key sense of humour” (Edmonton Journal) and Anne brings her “gorgeous syrupy voice” (Acoustic Magazine) to songs that are “inventive, entertaining, beautifully written and brilliantly performed” (R2 Magazine).

In short, a night out with James Hill & Anne Janelle is “the perfect evening of tunes, stories and musical virtuosity” (Wellington Dominion-Post).

James’ Workshops

Swing, Ukulele Swing!
It’s swing time in Ukulele Land! East coast, west coast, all around the town, swing is happening. Sweet-sounding swing chords are easy to play and they sound oh-so fabulous. Your ukulele will thank you and your strumming will never be the same again. Regardless of prior experience, James will have you swinging your first Jazz tune in five minutes and you’ll fly to the moon from there!

Lyricism and Line: How to Make the Ukulele Sing
Explore the lyrical side of the ukulele.  In this workshop students learn to play chord-melody arrangements of beautiful melodies such as Spring Song (Mendelsohnn), Slumber Song (Schubert) and Streets of Laredo (Trad.).  Discover subtleties of left-hand fingering and right-hand fingerpicking and how these can make (or break) the lyrical qualities of the music.  A workshop full of musical delights and ukulele insights.

(Beginner / Intermediate)
Based on James’ book of the same name, BOOSTER UKE takes you from “ho-hum” to “big fun” in a relaxed, stress-free way!  The secret: Chord Twins, a simple technique that will change the way you play.  Even if you bought the book and have taken the BOOSTER UKE online lessons you don’t want to miss this workshop as James will teach great songs that aren’t included in the book!

Living in Perfect Harmony
(All Levels)
If you love to SING in three-part harmony, this is the class for you! Find out why your ukulele is the perfect tool for writing beautiful vocal arrangements in just minutes. We’ll sing arrangements of folk, gospel and jazz favourites. Best of all, you’ll learn how to create your own multi-part harmonies faster than you can say “My Mom Made Me Mow My Lawn!”

Anne’s Workshops

Cover It Well
(All levels)
Don’t just cover it… cover it well!  Learn how to create covers that are innovative, inventive and unexpected. Don’t just cover your favourite song, make it magical.

(All levels)
Music making is absolutely dependent on a healthy body.  Take a little breather from playing uke and find out how to stretch and strengthen your music-making muscles.  This is a gentle class and no stretching or movement experience is required.  Requests taken!


Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer

Visit Cathy & Marcy’s website

Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer are a formidable powerhouse of sound, with a repertoire of traditional and contemporary folk, old-time country and swing music. Their superb harmonies are backed by instrumental virtuosity on the acoustic & electric guitar, five-string banjo, mandolin, cello banjo, ukulele, percussion and many other instruments. They are ready to engage and entertain audiences of all ages, with a broad following in family music and in American Roots styles. Equally at home at a Bluegrass festival, Folk festival, Family concert or just about anywhere, audiences respond to their good humor, excellent musicianship and warm rapport. Their love of passing the music on has led them to direct several music camps and workshops, including the Ukulele & Guitar Summit at the Music Center at Strathmore in Bethesda, MD.

They’ve earned two GRAMMY® Awards for “cELLAbration: a Tribute to Ella Jenkins” and for “Bon Appétit!”. An additional 11 GRAMMY® nominations include their CDs, “Postcards” and “Banjo Talkin’ in the Best Traditional Folk Album category. They produced and performed on Tom Paxton’s GRAMMY® nominated “Live in the UK” CD and tour. Tom says, “Cathy & Marcy are at home in a dozen musical styles. They swing you, jazz you, and old timey you till you just give up and bliss out”.

The C. F. Martin Company honored Cathy & Marcy’s musical achievements by creating a signature guitar for each of them, the M3H Cathy Fink Custom Signature Edition and the MC3H Marcy Marxer Custom Signature Edition. Marcy’s instrumental virtuosity has led to endorsements with Gold Tone Instruments (Marcy Marxer Model Cello Banjo), Kala Instruments (Marcy Marxer Model Tenor Ukulele), National Steel Guitars (prototype of frst Tenor Steel Guitar made since 1932) and Latin Percussion (full set of Congas and Latin Percussion instruments).

Their recorded catalogue of CD’s, DVD’s and instructional materials includes an astounding 65 titles. Recognized as top-notch songwriters, they are multiple prizewinners in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest, USA International Songwriting Contest and Mid-Atlantic Songwriting Contest. In their 30+ years performing together, the Washington Area Music Association has recognized Cathy & Marcy with over 60 WAMMIE Awards for folk, bluegrass and children’s music.

What do The Savoy Family Cajun Band, Pete Seeger, Riders in the Sky, Si Kahn, Brave Combo, Mariachi Los Camperos, Mike Seeger, Patsy Montana, Tim O’Brien, Hot Rize and Ysaye Barnwell all have in common? They have all worked with Cathy & Marcy in the studio. Their skills have led to producing over 60 recordings by and with other artists, and to projects with National Geographic, AT&T, McGraw-Hill School Publishing, Handwriting Without Tears and numerous corporate clients who appreciate roots music values.

Cathy & Marcy have performed at hundreds of bluegrass and folk festivals, appeared on the “Weekend Today Show”, “CBS Early Show”, National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered”. The duo has toured worldwide from Japan to New Zealand, Vancouver to New York and everywhere in between. American Voices Abroad chose Cathy & Marcy to perform in China, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu for the U.S. Department of State.

Marcy’s Workshops

Chord Confidence
(All levels)
This workshop will focus on changing chords fluently and efficiently. 

Closed Chord Confidence
This workshop focus on changing closed position chords with confidence and speed. Chord sheets and blank chord sheets will be provided. Some of the chords covered will be suggestions from the class.

Chorded Melody 1
This workshop guides players through a step by step method of playing chorded melody versions of familiar songs. Players will be able to apply this method to songs of their choice. Chorded Melody is a two session class. Players should be able to play a Barre Chord.

Cathy’s Workshops

Intro to Clawhammer – 2 day
(Intermediate & Up)
The clawhammer technique is an old time banjo technique that when transferred on Ukulele, utilizes the high G as a drone string. It involved knocking down on the strings with the right hand instead of strumming or picking. It can be used for song accompaniment or playing instrumentals. On day one we will focus primarily on the right hand. On day two we continue right hand drills and incorporate some left hand chords and melody.

Big Fat Eclectic Songbook – 2 day
(Advanced Beginner-Intermediate)
Sing and play a big repertoire in various styles. While we’re at it, we’ll learn a few new chords and right hand techniques. We will work on 5-6 songs per day. Songs like: Freight Train, the Last Thing on MY Mind, If I Only Had A Brain, Fly Me To The Moon, Route 66, Little Grass Shack. Under the Chicken Tree and more.

Jim D’Ville

Visit Jim’s website

Jim D’Ville is a music educator and facilitator who is on a mission to get ukulele players off the paper and playing music by ear. Over the last six years he has taught his Play Ukulele By Ear workshops to thousands of players in the United States, Australia, Canada and the Caribbean.

Jim is the author of the Play Ukulele By Ear DVD series and hosts the popular Play Ukulele By Ear website.

Jim’s Workshops

Play Ukulele By Ear Vol. 1: Learning To Listen
(All Levels)
Get the most out of your ukulele experience by getting rid of that songbook and learning to Play Ukulele By Ear. This entertaining and informative workshop will give you the tools you need to tap into your innate musical abilities. Playing by ear is easy, fun, and it will propel your understanding of how music works to a new level. Learning the emotional value of just three major chords will open open your ears to the structure of millions of songs, in under an hour! This workshop will make you a better listener and student! All skill levels welcome, however, knowledge of basic chord shapes (C F G7) is helpful. “Jim’s Play Ukulele By Ear workshop is a high-energy roller coaster of learning and laughs. He’s one-of-a-kind. Buckle up!” James Hill

Play Ukulele By Ear Vol. 2: Chord Progressions & The Circle of 5ths
(Advanced Beginner and up)
Being able to hear and identify chord progressions will go a long way toward demystifying the basic structure of music. Before you know it you’ll be hearing and recognizing dominant seven and diatonic chord progressions. This exciting workshop will open your ears to the way all songs work around the Circle of 5ths. Knowledge of chords C F G7 A7 D7 E7 Am Dm Em is helpful.

Strumming Ukulele By Ear
(All Levels)
Free yourself from memorizing Down-Up patterns! Starting with the basic index finger strum, Jim will quickly have your muscle memory absorbing fun strums like The Gallop Triplett, The Chunky Chop and many more strumming techniques that will spice up your playing.

Picking Ukulele By Ear
(All Levels)
Learn to pick the melodies to your favorite songs without tab! This ground-breaking workshop is the first of its kind to use the solfege syllables to organically train your ears to hear and play the scale patterns where all the melodies live. Topics will include playing scales, arpeggios, rolls and fills, and of course songs! This workshop is the first step to being able to play anything that comes into your head!

Ben Hassenger

Visit Ben’s website

Ben Hassenger’s musical career began in the early 1970s when he was arrested for playing “Smoke on the Water” on accordion and singing in animal sounds in the cafeteria at Lansing Community College. It was the start of something special, for sure.

Ben now works as a music facilitator with Special Education children, teaches ukulele to students and teachers in Michigan school systems, seniors at Prime Time in East Lansing, as well as group and individual ukulele lessons at Elderly Instruments, Interlochen Center for the Arts, and Michigan State University’s Community Music School. He plays guitar and ukulele in the bands Blue Jello and The Ukulele Kings and is the co-founder of the Lansing (MI) Area Ukulele Group and the organizer of the Mighty Uke Day festival, Interlochen’s Uketoberfest, and the Midwest Uke Camp in Olivet . He is also a prolific songwriter, with two of his songs about the Detroit Tigers enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. Ben’s a fun and involving performer with a variety of original songs about dogs, food, love, Michigan, and the other important things in life.

Ben’s Workshops

Uke From Scratch
One session, as the name implies.

Alternate Tunings – Why Sound Like Everyone Else?
(Confident Beginner to Intermediate)
Alternate tunings are great for stimulating your songwriting and making old songs sound new. We’ll explore easy-to-play and great-sounding tunings including slack-key and minor tunings.

Ukulele Toolbox
(Confident Beginner to Intermediate)
Make a song your own with a variety of musical tools including alternate tunings, chord inversions, and strum patterns. Work together in small groups to create a unique rendition of a favorite song.

Intros, Endings, and Everything In-Between
(Confident Beginner)
Ben shares his nifty tips for getting your song off to a good start, working on fills and transitions in the body of the song, and wrapping things up with the proper ending. Learn to arrange the song to make it your own with accents and dynamics and you’ll have your audience swaying their cell phones to and fro and throwing money at your feet!


Meet the instructors on the first day of camp and ask questions about the workshops, then make your class selections. While the daily schedule for Uke Fest 2017 is being developed, you can take a look 2016 Uke Fest info with sample schedule, photos and videos here.


Tuition includes all classes, meals and the concert. Work exchange and youth scholarships are available. 



Adults $495
Youth (ages 13-25) $395
Children (ages 5-12) $345
Parent/Guardian* (Meals, dance and concert, no classes): $310
Under 5 Free

Lodging is additional.

*Camp attendees under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. We offer a special Parent/Guardian rate which includes meals, dance and concert, but no classes or lodging.

You’ll enjoy delicious meals by our Chef William Warnes, including dinner on Friday, three meals on Saturday and Sunday, brunch on Monday, beverages round the clock and sumptuous late night snacks. You may select regular, vegan, vegetarian, or gluten-free meals. We make every effort to include a range of allergen-free dishes and to inform diners of meal ingredients.

Payment/Cancellation/Refund Policy

You may hold your place with a deposit of $150. Full payment is due no later than six weeks before camp begins.

Partial refunds are available until two weeks before camp begins. To cancel, please log into the account you created when registering on Regonline and select the option to cancel. Cancellation fees apply.

Please refer to our official payment/cancellation/refund policy for important deadlines and dates for this workshop.


Enjoy the full Ashokan experience and choose comfortable onsite lodging as part of the registration process. More information and costs here.

What to Bring

  • If you are staying onsite: Sleeping bag or sheets, blanket, pillowcases, towels, soap, toiletries. There are light quilts in each private room and a small number of light blankets for those bunkhouse residents who are unable to bring one of their own. If you will need us to provide one, please let us know well in advance and we’ll do our best.
  • Flashlight, camera.
  • Clothes and shoes for wet and dry weather.
  • Public consumption of alcohol is discouraged.

See this What To Bring/Camp Summary for more details.

Youth Pricing and Scholarship Fund

We’re excited about the growing interest in traditional music and dancing among young people–the future is in their hands. To help young people take part in Ashokan Music & Dance Camps, we offer major discounts for children and young adults and have established a Youth Scholarship Fund. Anyone age 25 or younger can apply by filling out our Youth Scholarship Application.

Work Exchange

A limited number of work exchange positions are available to partially defray the cost of the camp. A list of available positions can be found here.

Indicate your first three choices of positions during online registration and make a deposit of $150 or more to hold your registration.

Contact us by phone (845) 246-2121, or email for details.


Register for Uke Fest Now!


Please do not call to register or send in your check before registering online.

If you prefer to pay by check, or with a credit card by phone, you may select that option when you register.

You can pay in full now, or hold your spot with a deposit of $150 for each attendee until six weeks before camp begins, when full payment is due. If you are applying for a work exchange position, a deposit of $150 is still required.


To purchase tickets for the concert only, click here.

Stay in the loop!

Like our Ashokan Music & Dance Camps Facebook page for news and updates.

and like our Uke Fest Facebook page for Uke Fest updates.



Photos on the top of this page were taken by George Touchstone and Stewart Dean.

You can see more Uke Fest photos on the Photos page.