On July 28th over fifty ukulele enthusiasts descended on the village of Holt to take part in Go West Uke Fest.
The event was originally launched in 2017 by music teacher Thomas Hiscocks with the support of six ukulele clubs from across Wiltshire. Formerly hosted by the village of Bishops Cannings, the move to Holt this year was made to make the location more central within the county.
Participation was the focus of the day, which provided varied opportunities for learning and performance. The morning and afternoon aspects of the day took place at Holt Primary School which offered plenty of space for the various activities on hand.Workshops covered a variety of themes from beginner to more advanced levels and also catered to bass ukulele players. One highlight was from acclaimed composer and top music theory expert Al Summers, who allowed participants to pick his brains in order to unearth the mysteries and dissolve the fear often associated with his subject.
The main school hall functioned as a place to gather, enjoy tea and cakes, and engage in further opportunities to listen or play. Inventor and founder of local business Acoustic Guitar Innovation, Felix Byrne, displayed and gave demonstrations of his unique and groundbreaking Eco-lele, constructed from sustainably sourced materials. We introduced our own take on this with the 'Ukulele Creation Station' where some of the younger festival goers were able to create their own instruments out of common household recycled materials.The afternoon culminated in a 'Big Strum' with over thirty ukuleles playing together in unison!
The evening saw the venue change to The Old Ham Tree, a tavern well accustomed to hosting folk nights and the like. Several hours of entertainment were provided by Warminster Ukulele Club and Marlborough and Pewsey Ukulele Group, who performed showcase sets and then proceeded to take turns in playing songs to each other from opposite ends of the dining area.
The event received a wealth of positive feedback on the day and a number of e-mails of thanks in the days that followed - most of which stated that they are looking forward to a repeat next year!