Strum on Over to the South Florida Ukelele Festival on Saturday

The ukulele is not just for the Aloha state anymore. The burgeoning popularity of the petite babe of the guitar family whose Hawaiian name translates to "jumping flea" seems to be happening quicker than the time it takes that little parasite to leap onto your pet. This Saturday, August 28, locals can hop on the ukulele bandwagon and

head to the South Florida Ukulele Festival at Fort Lauderdale's Bahia

Mar Beach Resort.

So what's the growth of the ukulele all about? Some say the struggling economy plays a role (one can score the four-stringed instrument for under $40 at your local music shop; others purport that an increase in its use in modern music is increasing exposure. Much can be learned over at the extensive online resource In the indie-music scene, instruments such as the uke have become increasingly popular -- Beirut's "Postcards From Italy" being a prime example. Artists such as Dent May and Sophie Madeleine solely showcase the unique sounds of the ukulele; and we can't forget about ukulele god Jake Shimabukuro. John Gallagher, owner of Fort Lauderdale's Modern Music Warehouse, states that he sells at least one soprano or baritone ukulele every week.

As for the fest, activities begin Saturday at 10 a.m. with vendors, seminars, raffle drawings, and live music. Workshops are geared to teach both novice and advanced ukulele musicians how to improve their skills, so don't leave your jumping flea at home. Be sure to stay until 7 p.m. for the concert, which will host three bands featuring genres including contemporary Hawaiian, ragtime/swing, and Jawaiian (a mix of Jamaican-Hawaiian sounds).

-- Jamie Long

South Florida Ukulele Festival 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, August 28, at

Bahia Mar Beach Resort

801 Seabreeze Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. $15 for adults; $5 for 12 and under; free for 8 and under. Click here.

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New Times Staff