May 25-28, 2018
Uke Fest   Recently updated !

photos by Stewart Dean View more photos

Uke Fest

Friday, May 25-Monday, May 28, 2018

Announcing our 6th 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 a concert by our world-class staffBring 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.

Included in your tuition is a terrific concert on Saturday night featuring performances by our 2018 uke fest staff — Daniel Ward, Heidi Swedberg, Kevin Carroll, Fred Sokolow, Lynn Sokolow, Gerald Ross and Ben Hassenger. An amazing group of ukulele greats! Concert tickets on sale to the general public now!

Thank you to these event sponsors

Ukulele Magazine

Ukulele Magazine,
Stringletter Publishing

Instructors & Workshops for 2018

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



Daniel Ward smiles while holding a ukulele

Daniel Ward

Visit Daniel’s website

Daniel Ward teaches ukulele in Los Angeles, California at U-Space and McCabes Guitar Shop as well as at festivals across the country, including the Reno Ukulele Festival, Wine Country Ukulele Festival, Port Townsend WA Ukulele Retreat, Albuquerque Ukekopelli Festival, the Kerville Texas Folk Festival, Mighty Uke day in Lansing Michigan, and the Rocky Mountain Ukulele Festival in Durango just to name a few. Internationally he has taught and played in countries from Mexico to China, and recently performed at the Ukulele Festival of Great Britain. In 2015 he released his first solo ukulele album, “El Ukulele,” as well as co-authoring “Color-Along Ukulele,” an illustrated method book for all ages. His most recent book release is the celebrated “Arpeggio Meditations for Ukulele,” a method book for fingerstyle made up of musical etudes.

Daniel’s unique style is a product of a lifetime career as a versatile guitarist. Known primarily for his virtuosic command of flamenco and Latin styles, he has toured with renowned dance companies including Maria Benitez, Yjastros, and Dance España as well as world tours with pop-phenomenon Ottmar Liebert. His skills on the electric guitar in jazz, rock and world styles have taken him to the Telluride Jazz Festival with his group Caribe, and his playing can be heard on Robbie Robertson’s “Music For The Native Americans.” His own award-winning guitar album “After The Storm” is in its fourth reprinting.

Daniel’s workshops to be announced

Heidi Swedberg smiles while playing ukulele

Heidi Swedberg

Visit Heidi’s website

Heidi Swedberg has been messing around with a ukulele since she was 5.  Born in Hawaii, she received her first instrument from the Easter Bunny.  In her 20 years as an actress in the TV/Film industry she’s had occasion to play uke, baritone and tenor guitar.  She taught the cast of SEINFELD to play “Happy Birthday” when she worked with them playing Susan, George’s ill-fated fiancée.  Heidi enjoys teaching all ages from pre-school to post secondary, and is big on involvement and empowerment.  She and her partner Daniel Ward perform for families as Sukey Jump Band and for sophisticated adults as The Smoking Jackets.  They have enjoyed participating in ukulele events from Mexico to China, and Heidi is thrilled to be visiting Ashokan for the first time.

Heidi’s Workshops to be Announced

Kevin Carroll leans against a wall and plays ukulele

Kevin Carroll

Visit Kevin’s website

Kevin Carroll is a certified State of Texas Elementary Educator, instructs at ukulele workshops internationally, is a performing and recording artist, and teaches both private and group music lessons to all ages and levels in Austin, TX. He has launched a ukulele-based music education company called, which brings curriculum and instruments to schools and students. Equally passionate about music, education and ukulele, Kevin seeks to inspire and empower students to exercise their birthright of making music. Kevin has completed three years of course study in the James Hill Ukulele Initiative Teacher Certification Program. This training has served to make Ukulele in the classroom a popular and successful learning approach in Austin. Kevin’s scope of teaching includes Texas-based music, blues, soul, funk, classical, jazz, family music facilitation, ukulele ensembles, and beginners of all ages. He has been a resident of Austin, TX for over 25 years where he has played guitar and toured across the globe with Americana artists such as the Flatlanders (Joe Ely, Butch Hancock and Jimmie Dale Gilmore), Jimmy LaFave, Alejandro Escovedo, Robyn Ludwick, Charlie and Bruce Robison and many others.

Kevin’s Workshops to be Announced

Fred Sokolow wearing a hat and tropical shirt and holding two ukuleles

Fred Sokolow

Visit Fred’s website

Fred Sokolow is best known as the author of nearly 200 instructional books and DVDs for guitar, ukulele, banjo, Dobro, mandolin and lap steel. Fred has long been a well-known West Coast multi-string performer and recording artist, particularly on the acoustic music scene. Born in Los Angeles, by the early 1960s, Fred was well- known in the California bluegrass scene. Throughout most of the 60s, he toured and recorded with Bay Areabased hippie rock band, Notes From the Underground (Vanguard Records). In the early 70s, Fred performed with R&B, rock, country and bluegrass bands. By 1975 Fred had played with bluegrass luminaries like John Herald, Frank Wakefield and Jerry Garcia, had opened for the Dead, the Doors, B.B. King, Country Joe and the Fish and countless other acts, and he was playing in jazz combos with some of the Bay Areas best studio players. In 1975 Fred recorded two groundbreaking banjo albums and began touring with artists including Bobbie Gentry, Jim Stafford, and the Limeliters.

By the end of the 70s, Fred had begun writing instructional books for music print publishers and articles in music magazines. He also began teaching at music camps and stores, including the renowned McCabes Music in Santa Monica. Fred currently performs retro jazz guitar with some of LA’s finest musicians, including British exrock star Ian Whitcomb. He’s active on the studio scene, playing on numerous albums and TV and movie soundtracks. He relishes the diversity of his portfolio:

  • played lap steel on The Show
  • played mandolin on Rick James’ last CD
  • played dobro with Chubby Checker
  • won on the Gong Show playing bluegrass banjo
  • jammed at the House of Blues with Junior Brown
  • performs with the legendary folksinger Tom Paxton
  • official banjo player for the TV show Survivor

Whether Fred is playing Delta bottleneck blues, bluegrass or old-time banjo, 30s swing guitar or screaming rock solos, he does it with authenticity and passion.

Fred’s workshops to be announced

Lynn Sokolow wearing a hat and holding a bass ukulele

Lynn Sokolow

Visit Lynn’s facebook page

Lynn Sokolow has been playing stand-up bass with the ukulele community ever since her husband Fred Sokolow carried her over the uke threshold! Although she began in her 20’s playing electric bass in rock and R&B bands, (and currently plays upright bass in several bluegrass bands), Lynn has since come to her senses and jumped on board with ukulele bass.

The thing about Lynn, is that the primary focus in all of her musical endeavors is to generate as much fun out of playing as is humanly possible, and this is her philosophy when it come to teaching. Lynn’s workshops not only include simple fretboard patterns that can be played all over the neck in any key, she also covers basic concepts of rhythm variations as well as how to build a bass line using chords and scales. She puts it all in context by having the students play though songs at a basic level and then stepping it up gradually to allow for more improvisation. Lynn’s workshops will introduce how and what a bass player needs to do to immediately participate in group jams and performances…and how to handle being worshiped by the group for doing so!

Lynn’s Workshops to be announced

Gerald Ross smiles and holds a ukulele while at a festival

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 to be Announced

Ben Hassenger wears a colorful shirt and plays his ukulele in front of some wildflowers

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 cofounder 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 teaching artist with a variety of original songs about dogs, food, love, Michigan, and the other important things in life.

“Ben Hassenger has the ability to teach music and particularly the ukulele in a fun, thoughtful, and thorough way. His students learn quickly and his classrooms are always filled with smiling faces and positive energy. Ben is most definitely the ‘minister of morale’ at the festival. His upbeat personality and positive attitude add so much to the weekend and make everyone feel at home and welcome.”
—Gerald Ross (Director, Ashokan Uke Fest)

Ben’s Workshops to be Announced


Meet the instructors on the first day of camp and ask questions about the workshops, then make your class selections.

While this year’s schedule is in development, you may want to take a look 2017 Uke Fest info with schedule, photos and videos here for an idea of what to expect.

Tuition and Meals

Tuition includes all classes, meals and the concert. Lodging is additional, see below. Work exchange and youth scholarships are available. 

Adults: $525
Youth (ages 13-25): $425
Children (ages 5-12) $375
Parent/Guardian* : $315
Children (under 5): Free


*Camp attendees under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. We offer a special Parent/Guardian rate which includes meals and concert, but no classes or workshops. Lodging is additional, see below.

You’ll enjoy delicious meals by our Chef William Warnes, including dinner on Friday, three meals on Saturday and Sunday, breakfast on Monday, beverages round the clock and sumptuous late night snacks.

You may select omnivore, no red meat, vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free meals. We make every effort to include a range of allergen-free dishes and to inform diners of meal ingredients.


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

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.

What to Bring, When to Arrive, and Transportation

  • If you are staying onsite: Sleeping bag or sheets, blankets, pillowcases, towels, soap, toiletries. Pillows are available. 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 both wet and dry weather.

See Important Information about Uke Fest for details about what to bring, when to arrive, the schedule for camp, directions to Ashokan and more.

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 work exchange 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.

Stay in the loop!

Would you like to be notified about upcoming Ashokan Music & Dance Camp events and announcements regarding camp registration dates? Sign up to receive our emails!

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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.