Review Feb 25 Uke Mixed Plate

MEMORABLE MOMENTS – CLICK ON A PHOTO for the story behind it

On Wednesday, February 25, we began our new format for Ukulele Mix Plate of concert by The Hawaiian Serenaders followed by group ukulele lesson by Ukulele Mele. We dropped the Youth Showcase that we had supported for the previous five shows. It was less stressful not having to find talented youth who could play ukulele, sing, and have good stage presence, and then monitor their PA needs on stage. Since The Shops at Wailea does not provide a sound guy for the venue, we have to take care of all our own sound needs throughout our show. Thank goodness my husband Rich knows how to work PA systems. Sound engineering is another skill that people take for granted until something is wrong, they don’t know how to fix it, and there’s no one to ask.

We showed up at our usual time of 1 ½ hours before show time to setup. It was so much easier to just prepare for our different sound needs for the concert and then teaching (without worrying about the youth players). New this time, there were tables to engage people in Chinese New Year craft activities, with the coordinator’s promise to close down a half-hour before our show. No problem. I had time to meet people in the audience, informally talk story, and hand out business cards for those interested in learning to play ukulele. Some of the people came just for the free entertainment. Many have been returning from previous shows, bringing their own chairs, instruments, and friends. The word is out.

Our concert of “non-traditional” ukulele songs ran 45-minutes with all 12-songs we planned including two hulas by my student helpers. Without the Youth Showcase, we had more time to perform and teach. The place was packed with over 150 people, the most audience we’ve seen so far. One little boy was so cute as he stood nearby just watching us play.

During the Ukulele Mele lesson, my husband Rich was caught off guard when I mentioned his birthday was the next day and in honor of that I wanted to teach everyone how to play “Happy Birthday.” After playing the 3-chord song with the chalang-alang strum for ukulele a few times, I sang it in Hawaiian. Later, someone commented on how much they enjoyed hearing the Hawaiian version of “Happy Birthday.”

Our plan to allow half-hour of talking story with individuals to end the program at the published time worked great. Many people came to the merchandise table to buy my packaged song sets of book/DVD/CD and Hawaiian Serenaders CDs, and to get information about my ukulele lessons on Maui and online. We committed to Mele Ukulele store (who asked for our help) to continue this format of Ukulele Mix Plate on the second and fourth Wednesdays in March. We’ll see how long we can keep up this schedule without being paid for our services.

Aloha, Mele Fong aka Ukulele Mele

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Mele Fong is a professional singer, song arranger, and master of multiple strumming styles for the 'ukulele. She is an experienced educator with over 50+ years experience playing the 'ukulele and entertaining worldwide. Mele performs with her husband in the duo "The Hawaiian Serenaders" and leads student groups. In 1996, the duo represented the State of Hawai'i in concert at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. Mele and her husband Richard Tom were both born and raised on Oahu and now reside in Maui.