Join us on Friday, November 13, 2020 at 7:30 p.m. for a virtual house concert of ukulele performers!
The story: During this time of COVID-19 social distancing, the ukulele community has come together online, and people from all over the world have come together and gotten to know each other and we’ve seen a wide variety of style and great performers. After my concert in April, I’ve been looking for more opportunities to perform and also wanted to give an opportunity to some of the other performers that I’ve been impressed with.
This virtual concert will be held on Zoom and will feature four ukulele players (Betsy Manning, Zack Niman, John Vitale, and me) who have been impressing other ukulele players at various online events, and this is the opportunities for you to hear them too!
In April 2015 Betsy Manning got the ukulele “calling” out-of-the-blue. The seed may have been sown when she saw a fellow joyfully playing a uke at an old-rules baseball game the previous summer. It may have been seeing the adorable ladies of Petty Booka strumming “Sophisticated Hula” in western garb in the NYC public access favorite Ghoul-A-Go-Go featured at Blobfest. The desire to pick up a uke was in the air.
She played guitar as a teenager and had a child’s plastic TV uke with peg tuners that never held a tune. She learned her first chords with an Arthur Godfrey book in the early 1970s. However, she stopped playing long ago while pursuing a commercial art career and other life events.
Funky Frets music store is only a short ride from her current home in Pottstown, PA. Betsy purchased her first quality ukulele (a Kala Concert K-C) from Curt Sheller that April. She could not put it down. What she thought might be a two-week fling with the instrument became a major love affair. She is now the proud “mother” of 15 ukes!
Betsy is a soprano and sang Ringing Hills Chorus of Sweet Adeline’s International. Before that, she sang lead for the Doo-Wop groups the New Potentials and The Del-Vals.
Betsy is now an organizer/leader/instructor for Philadelphia Main Line Ukulele Group. She presents a series of “Delve Deeper” workshops to assist budding ukulele players and she leads weekly themed jams. She is a regular performer at Make Music Upper Perk, Steel City Open Mic, Funky Frets Open Mic, Clay on Main Open Mic, and South Wayne Porchfest.
7 years ago Zack Niman walked into a Guitar Center store with the idea of buying a ukulele and a mandolin, thinking he could add variety to his music shows that he did with guitars. The mandolins, with 8 strings, were a bit too complicated. The ukuleles were “simple,” bright, and very portable, and in developing a love for the instrument Zack has created a complex style of play that he hopes you will enjoy.
Zack is a singer-songwriter who some consider the Jacques Brel of the 21st Century. Inducted into Tampa Fingerstyle Guitar Guild in 2015, Zack is a specialist in the performance of the extraordinary music of Mississippi John Hurt, and has also created his own unique songs and instrumentals on ukulele and guitar.
John was introduced to the ukulele about eight years ago at a dinner party, and was instantly hooked. He gradually made his way into the Manhattan/Brooklyn Ukulele Meetup scene. It was there that he met other like-minded musicians, and ended up collaborating with a couple of buddies to form a band called East River. From 2015 through 2019, East River had a regular Friday night gig at Bailey’s Corner Pub on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
John has recently immersed himself into Bluegrass music. He is infatuated with the “high, lonesome sound”, that is the hallmark of bluegrass greats— his favorites include Del McCoury, Bill Monroe, George Jones, the Louvin Brothers, Hazel Dickens $ Alice Gerrard, and Michael Daves. On any given night for the past several years, you may have heard John at Bluegrass jam sessions throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Long Island City.
Since the pandemic, John has discovered the incredibly rich ukulele meetup scene that has migrated to Zoom across the country. He is grateful to have met many wonderful and welcoming ukulele enthusiasts in meet-ups that originate in Boston, Buffalo, and Morristown.
Ken Mattsson is a singer and multi-instrumentalist who has worked in the genres of folk, pop, classical and many others. While primarily a vocalist, Ken also has played and performed on the hammered dulcimer, recorders, whistles, flutes, autoharp, and for the past two years, the ‘ukulele. He’s been a member and organizer for the Ukulele Union of Boston (Watch City Ukers, Strummerville, Uke in the Afternoon) for the past two years, and has taught classes on music theory and performance for ukulele players.