Ukulele Party in Japantown

Herb Ohta, Jr., played with Ukulele Source's Smiley Kai, and Rodney from Ukulele Jams.

Japantown’s Ukulele headquarters, Ukulele Source, celebrated its two-year anniversary today with a ukulele party outside the store that lasted through most of the afternoon.

Rodney from the nearby Ukulele Jams ukulele school, a man who apparently has little use for a last name, played with some of his students. The ukulele band from the Wesley United Methodist Church just down the block brought more than a dozen uke’s. Dancers joined a couple of the songs to add a kinetic element.

Finally, Herb Ohta, Jr., played for nearly an hour to wrap up the day. Ohta’s website bills him as “one of the world’s finest ukulele virtuosos”; and it’s hard to deny his skill, though I’m hardly a connoisseur of the ukulele. Where mention of the ukulele brings to mind the sound of slow strumming, Ohta’s style featured mostly picking. From browsing his website, this may be a style pioneered by his father, known as Ohta-san, in the 1950’s.

Easily a hundred people attended the party to hear a bit of island music. I only heard about it Friday in an email from Carol at Roy’s Station to my local neighborhood newsgroup, but this was definitely one of the funnest events I’ve had pop up on short notice for quite a while.

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