Kansas City area residents wondering what a “ukulele slam” looked like got their first look Saturday.
Ukulele players and enthusiasts filled a brick courtyard in the 500 block of Delaware Street for the first annual River Market Ukulele Slam.
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“We hope this is the first of many,” Chuck Wilson, member of the Kansas City Ukesters, announced near the end of the three-hour event.
Spectators wore jackets to ward off the late afternoon chill as members of one ukulele group sometimes joined others on particular songs. Still other players strummed along from their chairs.
Such casual collaboration is common, said Joe Frogge, a member of the Ukulele Fight Club - Kansas City, which Frogge described as a “jam club” that convenes regularly.
“We get together and just start playing and you will have about 20 musicians drifting in and out,” said Frogge.
Officers of the Folk Alliance International hosted the slam.
The organization, which includes perhaps 3,300 members, relocated from Memphis, Tenn., to Kansas City earlier this year. It also operates The Folk Store, which sells ukuleles and guitars as well as sheet music, T-shirts and related merchandise at 509 Delaware St.
Area ukulele enthusiasts brought the idea for the slam to alliance officers, said Louis Jay Meyers, alliance executive director.
The growing Kansas City area popularity of the ukulele reflects the continuing re-emergence of folk and traditional music as represented by such bands as Mumford Sons, said Meyers.
“It’s not the Kingston Trio, but a younger generation’s version of that sound,” he said.
The alliance will host the 26th annual International Folk Alliance Conference next February at the Westin Crown Center. The keynote speaker will be Graham Nash.
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