Great big Hawaiian dudes have the monopoly on ukuleles no more. These days, the funny lil' stringed instrument has been usurped by a subdivision of the "hipster" community. This branch has thick bangs and long, flowing hair that falls prettily as they play. Their soft feminine voices caress the jingling notes. These hippie hipsters love open mics in dives. And the music? It's always uplifting, and they're always smiling.
It's hard not to feel uncomfortable around all of those good vibes. That's what makes the prospect of the upcoming South Florida Ukulele Festival so appealing. The affair takes place August 18 in Fort Lauderdale and features uke classes at all levels of expertise, a hula workshop, and performances. With all of the famous folks who also love this tiny guitar, we thought we'd inspire you to attend with this list of musicians that really enjoy plucking those short strings.
10. Eddie Vedder
If anyone's championing this instrument, it's former Pearl Jammer Eddie "freakin'" Vedder. The cutie patootie has a whole album called Ukulele Songs. If anyone can make a tiny guitar look sexy and masculine, it's gotta be this guy.
OK. Now the opposite of someone who makes things sexy and masculine: Zooey Deschanel. She's the heartthrob and pants-throb of all the young Billysburger dudes and lesbians. Zooey's a babe with a pleasant voice, but she's also the archetypal easy-going but earnest older sister of the bang-wearing ukulele player performing at your local coffee shop.
Apparently the coolest Beatle (biased, yes) also had a passion for the ukulele. Guess both Lennon and McCartney played too, but Harrison was the biggest advocate of the instrument. Here we let McCartney continue to overshadow Harrison even in death (sorry, not so many GH uke vids on YouTube). Make sure to catch this gem of Harrison appearing on The Pirate Show.
7. Rachel Goodrich
If you've never heard singer/songwriter Rachel Goodrich or seen her perform, well then, you probably didn't grow up in Miami. This lil' siren is now living in Los Angeles, but she's still repping the 305 and the uke nicely.
It's pretty safe to say that without Stephin Merritt, many forms of sadness would go without being communicated. Has this Magnetic Field cornered the emotional market on uke music? Yes. "The Book of Love" proves this point.
5. Taylor Swift What can TSwift not do? Nothing! Like get it, she can do everything! This chick is the prettiest, writes her own music, has no shame in her love game, telling everyone all the deets of her romantic life. She's all that fierce, and she makes the ukulele appropriate for teeny-bopper pop.
4. Ingrid Michaelson Remember the hippie hipster we wrote of earlier? This is her.
Ingrid Michaelson will perform at Culture Room on October 16.
3. Van Morrison
You could give Van Morrison a flute and he'd still be cool. That's all.
2. Tiny Tim
If you close your eyes, Tiny Tim could be any of those yodeling young ladies on the uke, but with more personality, of course. But if you open them, you see a strange, magnetic, fantastically neat dude with crazy lady hair. God bless Tiny Tim! He was the raddest.
The King was kool enough that he played this instrument in its adopted home of Hawaii without any shame. What's sexier than Elvis on a guitar? Think you know what the answer is. You don't? It's Elvis on a ukulele!
South Florida Ukulele Festival 2012, from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, August 18, at Mai-Kai and the Airport Hilton, 1870 Griffin Road, Dania Beach. Cost is $35 for all-access admission to workshops and concert, $5 for kids 12 and under, and free for kids under 8. Admission for workshops only or concert only is $25. Free admission to vendor area featuring performances all day.