Review of Ukulele Mixed Plate Debut

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

We were rockin’ out to “La Bamba/Twist and Shout” as we saw crowds of people all around the fountain courtyard dancing or playing their ukulele to the upbeat rhythm.  We noticed the general manager of The Shops standing in the back, and heard that he was happy with our debut of Ukulele Mixed Plate.

Three 13-year-olds from Kalama Intermediate School played their ukulele during the Youth Showcase. Unfortunately, their ukulele teacher, Benny Uyetake, couldn’t make it, so I served as their MC. Eight people borrowed instruments from Mele Ukulele to participate in the Play Along lesson, as well as about 30 people in the audience who either brought their own instruments or who just listened. We received lots of applause from our Hawaiian Serenaders diverse set of pop, jazz, and Hawaiian songs with hula. Two of my Advanced Ukulele students who perform with the Maui Ukulele Pops Band, came to help out and also danced hula to “Ulupalakua.” We had difficulty seeing our music with the growing darkness, so next time we’ll remember to bring our music stand light.

The sound/light guy stuck around for our whole program and said afterwards, “I’ve seen all kinds of acts here, and you guys are really good.” Other comments heard was people appreciated how to hold and strum the instrument, because they were never showed how to do that. “See you next Wednesday, we’re bringing our friends.” All in all, it was a good beginning to a new venture!

Days after the debut, I happened across The Shops at Wailea website and noticed a direct link to a page advertising the next Ukulele Mixed Plate event on January 14. I was happy to read the following on their page:

“The Shops at Wailea is co-sponsoring Ukulele Mix Plate with Mele Ukulele, a new store at The Shops at Wailea. Ukulele Mix Plate is a cultural series combining ukulele Hawaiian music performances and a learning experience.

Maui’s favorite ukulele teacher, Mele Fong, aka Ukulele Mele, along with her husband, Richard Tom, who plays bass ukulele, will lead the Hawaiian Serenaders. The Serenaders will entertain you with a variety of Hawaiian, hapa haole, pop and jazz standards. Also featured will be a mini-recital by some of Maui’s talented young ukulele players.

Mele Ukulele will provide a limited number of ukuleles along with a free introductory ukulele lesson. Learn beginner basics and a sampling of strums to fun, sing-along songs from a professional ukulele teacher and master. Sign up at the Mele Ukulele store, located on the upper level near Tommy Bahama Restaurant.

You’re invited to come join us at The Shops at Wailea, where you can take part in this Ukulele Mix Plate educational and entertaining experience of Hawaii’s national instrument and cultural treasure, the ukulele!”

It looks like Ukulele Mixed Plate will continue!

Aloha, Mele Fong aka Ukulele Mele


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.