OUR PERFORMERS AND TUTORS for 2023
Dr Samantha Muir
Samantha is an Associate of the Royal College of Music, London and recipient of the Madeline Walton Guitar Prize. She is the first person to do a PhD on classical ukulele (University of Surrey, Guildford, UK).
Sam has given numerous workshops and performances at leading ukulele festivals across the Australia (Valla Beach Ukulele Camp, Kalamunda Ukulele Collection, Busselton Ukulele Group) and the UK (GNUF, UKE East, the Highland Ukulele Gathering, Forest Ukulele Retreat, BUG Festival, Halsway Manor Ukulele Weekend). She has been featured in ukulele magazines in UK and US. Her compositions and arrangements are published by Schott and Les Productions d’Oz.
Samantha also specialises in the machete and the rajão, the forerunners of the ukulele, and is a member of the Cambridge Consortium for Guitar Research at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge.
The Australian Ukulele Orchestra
The AUO was formed by Musical Director Ian Porter just prior to the Covid outbreak but had its genesis in the former Outlaws Big Ukulele Band. Membership has varied over the years, depending upon availability and skills of players required with the current line-up having 9 members, and at least 7 in any one performance. The shows are very musically and technically challenging with the group carrying a lot of equipment on the road to ensure the best acoustIc experience for the audience.
The Orchestra is unique in the Australian market as it performs complex mulI-part arrangements of songs which span musical history from the 1600s to the present day.
The Group is primarily Sydney-based, but has had members from Newcastle and Northern NSW in the past as well.
The full gamut of ukulele instruments is showcased in the performances (and maybe a banjo ...) as well as singing and percussion.
During Covid the AUO produced entertaining ‘lockdown’ videos of some of its repertoire and finally got back on the road in 2022. They held sell-out performances and workshops in Sydney and Newcastle and this year performed at the Newcastle Fringe Festival and the Orange Regional Conservatorium.Ian arranges the repertoire to suit the range and qualities of the ukuleles in the AUO and the group meets monthly to rehearse. If Bach and Mozart had the modern ukulele available there is no doubt there would be volumes of works from these composers, as it is the AUO will dazzle you with their arrangements, both singing and instrumental, of pieces from these musical periods as well and more modern pop classics.
The Australian Ukulele Orchestra will be performing in the Saturday night Starry Concert.
Green Fieldz and Sally Carter Ukulele
Green Fieldz is Sally Carter and Keith Rea creating a storm of high-end energy with blazing fiddle, wild guitar work and melodic ukulele. Soaring vocal harmonies add to their unique sound which blends the many musical genres they play into a journey of fun. Green Fieldz play all types of music, from Celtic to country, from rock to classical, originals to contemporary.
They're all about upbeat fun, blazing guitar, wild fiddle, funky ukuleles and loads of energy and will give anything a go. They are happy to do requests or learn songs for special occasions.
Based on the Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, Green Fieldz have wowed the crowds at the Irish and Celtic Music Festival in Yass, turned heads at the Celtic Festival in Beechworth and made a real name for themselves at the Girgarre Moosic Muster as well at the Melbourne, the Hills and the Blue Mountains Ukulele Festivals.
Sally Carter Music
Sally has a real love of all things ukulele. She has brought together all her knowledge of music composition and part writing to develop her own unique approach to playing the ukulele. Her ukulele performance skills include jazz, Celtic tunes, pop songs, ragtime, bluegrass and more. She arranges all songs and tunes that she performs, adding her own flavour to well-known numbers with riffs, varied fingerpicking patterns, and of course her beautiful vocals that blend seamlessly with what she is playing on her ukulele.
Sally’s passion for ukulele also extends to sharing her ideas, discoveries and tips with others. She posts regular tutorial and performance videos on her Facebook page Sally’s Ukulele.
Sally will be presenting a Friday ukulele Institute on The Art of Ensemble Playing. She will also present stand-alone workshops on Saturday and Sunday. Keith will run a Ukulele Technology workshop on Saturday, and Green Fieldz will be performing in the Friday evening concert.
Jack 'n Jel, Mac and Wal
Jack n Jel, Mac n Wal …...Valla Beach 2023
Jack n Jel are a rare commodity: performers who can teach, teachers who can perform; multi-instrumentalists (guitar, bass, banjo, and trumpet) but particularly ukulele. Their original song writing is tender, toe-tapping and often silly! On stage they are joined by Ruth McCrae and John Wallace to make Jack n Jel, Mac n Wal, a four piece vocal harmony strong band that creates original music and reinvents songs they love.
Jack n Jel, Mac n Wal will be performing in the Friday evening concert and run the One Song Sing on Sunday. See below for their various workshops.
Jack 'n Jel
At home Mark and Jane (their real names) run 9 weekly ukestra/choir sessions (i.e. post covid), and they also have built an international reputation for ukestration workshops, helping community ukulele groups to develop their musicianship and joy beyond hum n strum. They deliver festival ukulele workshops that engage both beginner and experienced players in fun and dynamic arrangements of contemporary songs.
Jane and Mark will be running workshops on Saturday. They will be in the Songwriter Session as well as running the One Song Sing on Sunday so that we finish the Valla Beach Ukulele Camp with our endorphins flowing!
Mama Juju and the Jam Tarts
The versatility and combined experience of this band makes it hard to categorise. Mama Juju & The Jam Tarts can liven up any event. Quirky, unique music, stunning vocal harmonies, exciting song arrangements, a touch of naughtiness and an infectious energy. Mama Juju & The Jam Tarts play original songs which feature ukulele but also like to find and arrange kooky, unusual or unexpected songs for the ukulele. From sweet jazz through to sassy blues and electrified rock ukulele complemented by a solid rhythm section of drums and bass. The line up also includes flute, a genuine
1980s keytar- red for extra speed, guitar, harmonica and whatever other instruments they can lay their hands on. Their instrument swapping antics and confusion about who is playing what just adds to the onstage chaos.
Mama Juju & the Jam Tarts headlined the opening night cabaret at Spruke- Brisbane Ukulele Festival 2019 and 2022, have performed at Sunshine Coast Ukulele Festival, and performed as well as presented ukulele workshops at Folk Redlands Ukulele Convention, Spruke, Redfest, Wintermoon Festival (Mackay), Coast Acoustics Festival and Bulimba Ukulele Festival.
They have recorded two CDs - “Titbits” and “Ukulele Mama”
As well as performing in the band, Jam Tart Vicky and Julie (aka Mama Juju) both teach music on the side. Julie has been teaching ukulele, singing and performance skills at a local school for the past 10 years. Vicky who comes from a classical and
orchestral background runs Bay Music, a music shop/ teaching business on Macleay Island and also conducts the local community choir- The Coral Chorale. While Jam Tarts Trish and Connie don’t officially teach their musical skills (yet!), they will be
sharing some valuable insights at the workshops. Both talented multi-instrumentalists, they are the rocking-ist rhythm section any band could wish for! https://www.mamajujuandthejamtarts.com
Mama Juju and the Jam Tarts will be performing a high energy set on Saturday night and running a workshops on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
Stewart Peters - Singer-Songwriter & Producer
Stewart Peters is a multi-award winning singer-songwriter and Producer. He has co-written and produced with many successful artists over the past 25 years.
Awards include: winner of various sections of the of the ASAI Awards on several occasions. Stewart has also represented Australia as a finalist with the prestigious Vina Del Mar Song Contest in Chile; finalist in the Yamaha International Song Competition on several occasions; the Australian Song Competition; finalist for the Gibraltar Song Competition and winner of the Blue Mountains Acoustic & Roots competition.
As a producer, Stewart has a reputation for a warm, relaxed honest sound and openness with his co-writers. He specializes in mainly acoustic sounding productions, favouring acoustic guitars, natural drum and keyboard sounds.
Work with Developing Songwriters (and Western Fringe Songwriters Network)
He also works with developing songwriters and musicians through his organisation ‘Western Fringe Songwriters Network’, where he workshops and individually, co-writes and ‘fine-tunes’ their songs and music for free.
He has been a Recording & Performing Musician for 30 years, working professionally as a Songwriter, Producer, Singer, Guitarist and also in Live Theatre.
He has produced eight commercial CD’s of his original songs.
Go to www.soundshed.com.au to read more about Stewart and Soundshed Music.
Stewart will be presenting a Friday ukulele Institute on Developing your Bass skills, perform with Snez in the Friday night concert, and will be a part of the Songwriter Session on Saturday morning.
With her head down, pen to paper and currently writing her 5th studio album, Singer/songwriter, Snez has an intense honesty, sometimes plaintive, sometimes fierce, her songs have a way of settling into your heart and making a home.
Coming from a Macedonian working-class family, where stories about hardship, romance and work ethic have been passed down through generations, Snez subtly weaves these influences into her own stories and songs, featuring traditional Macedonian songs from her parents’ mother country.
Snez will perform at the Friday concert with Stewart and will be a part of the Songwriter Session on Saturday morning.
Dr Chris Waite
From Adelaide, Chris studied Music Performance at Norwood High School and in 1985 he won the SA Young Composers Award in with a work written for piano and 4 voices. After graduating from Flinders Medical School in 1994 he spent several years working for the Royal Flying Doctor Service in Central Australia. In 2007 he moved to Beachport, where he continued working as a GP until 2012.
He completed a Certificate 4 in Audio Engineering in 2002 and a Bachelor of Creative Arts (USQ) in 2018, majoring in music composition.
In 2015 he joined the Beachport Ukulele Group (BUGS), learnt to play ukulele and completed Level 3 Training with the James Hill Ukulele Initiative. He teaches group and private ukulele lessons and workshops, and is the musical director for UkestraSA, a community ukulele orchestra.
When not playing ukulele, Chris is a meditator, and amateur astrophotographer.
Chris will be presenting three engaging workshops over the weekend as well as being up for anything going!
Hailing now from Newcastle, Ruth happily spends her time as a music teacher, singer/ songwriter and ukulele playing member of Jack’n’Jel. Ruth has had many music highlights which include singing with Café of the Gate of Salvation for almost 10 years under the choir leadership of Tony Backhouse. Performing highlights include Womadelaide, The National Folk Festival and Newcastle’s own Newkulele Festival! Ruth cannot remember any day from about the age of 3 where she has not sung or played music.
Ruth McCrae will be presenting singing workshops on Saturday and Sunday and performing with Jac n Jel and Mac n Wal on Friday night.
John Wallace is a young musician hailing from Newcastle. He's had over a decade of experience teaching uke, bass, singing and general musicianship. He has played in a variety of formats and genres including orchestras, musicals, jazz bands, rock and metal outfits and choirs. He's excited to get a chance to meet and play with some amazing teachers and musicians at Valla Beach, and hopefully shed a bit of light on the wide world of bass playing.
John will be presenting an Intermediate Bass workshop on Saturday. a Beginner Bass workshop on Sunday and performing with Jac n Jel and Mac n Wal on Friday night.
Cynthia Sleight Meyles
Cynthia, also known as Original Cyn, had her first crack at song writing 3 years ago when a friend challenged her. Turned out that she was looking for a new musical adventure and it became apparent that all the scales and classical piano training in years past were useful after all!
Cynthia’s musical journey includes piano, flute, church musician, Southern Gospel Choir, Ukastle Ukestra, the Original Cyn duo with Danielle Scott, and now performs, singing and playing with the Australian Ukulele Orchestra.
So, to hell with it. Cynthia is living her best life. She has a crack at writing songs. She regularly attends song writer’s open mic sessions in Newcastle and this year two of her songs were shortlisted in the Australian Songwriters Association 2022 Songwriting Competition.
Cynthia will be in the Songwriters Session on Saturday morning and perform with the Australian Ukulele Orchestra on Saturday evening.
Dennis Wilson & Brenda Leseuer
As a team Dennis and Brenda, bring two lifetimes of musical expertise to music tutoring.
Between them they have:
combined professional teaching experience of 96 years in public and private school systems, TAFE, Conservatoria, U3A and private studios.
127 years of experience with music.
Expertise playing a host of instruments: trumpet, trombone, saxophone and every other brass instrument, piano, voice, harp and of course, various ukuleles.
International experience playing with Ukestralia in New Zealand and Hawaii.
Conducting and training brass bands, choirs and Big Sings as well as ukulele groups and workshops.
Qualifications: B.A. Dip. Ed; B.A (Music) and Master of Philosophy (Early Music) pending )
Brenda and Dennis will be running the Absolute Beginners program in Saturday and Sunday mornings. Dennis will also be performing with Blue Gum Blossom opening the Friday Night Celebrity Concert.
Cathy plays all sizes of ukulele, harp ukulele and banjo uke, as well as stick dulcimer, 5 string banjo, guitar, percussion, piano and keyboard. She was a founding member and inaugural president of the Australian Ukulele Teachers and Leaders Association (AUTLA). She holds a Level 3 James Hill Ukulele Teacher's accreditation, a Mistress of Education degree and was a Project Officer for the New England Conservatorium of Music. She recently developed two ukulele-based education programs which she is currently presenting to schools and pre-schools in northern Tasmania. Cathy teaches the Valla Beach Garage Band and Blue Gum Blossom Jazz uke Ensemble.
Review from Michael Fine at Troubadour Folk Club Event on 29 May 2021.
We billed it as a night of 'Creative Singer-Songwriters with Ukulele, at the Everglades'. But it deserved much more. Those of us lucky enough to have been there will remember this evening for a long time. A room full of laughter. Inspiring performances. Great original songs! And sharing that deep feeling of intimacy between audience and performers that only the most special events can ever produce.
The Wild Women were a hoot from the start. But cleverly, as we were lulled into the comfort of laughter and shared enjoyment, they began to get deeper and deeper in their reflection on what it means to be treated as a older woman, and how to respond to it. Cleverly, their message was about older blokes as well. They played some quite demanding instrumentals which I think went well beyond folk music. I thought of them as mini symphonic sketches, on the ukuleles. The lasting memories I have is of the joy they have and their rebellious embrace of gender and ageing. These are two women who are determined make the world a better place, one witty line and clever key change at a time.
Angie is a music historian with a Mistress of Education (Hons) and PhD (Education). She specialises in working with ukulele Beginners and Seniors, as well as in repertoire development, workshop exercises, songwriting and strum techniques. An experienced teacher, she brings to her workshops a unique understanding of the learning process together with ample patience and a firm belief in the ability of humans to learn. Her broad musical knowledge and ongoing research enable her to offer a wide range of workshops including beginners, strum techniques, rhythmic picking, twelve bar blues, Latin rhythms, Songs of the 20s, 30s and 40s, Hollywood Hawaiian, Great Movie Songs, and Australian, Gypsy, Scottish and Irish folk songs. She has recently launched into full-on environmental protest songs which are being sung at forest vigils for The Great Koala National Park.
Cathy Welsford & Angie Smith - The Wild Women of Anywhere Beach
Your Ukulele Camp hosts, Cathy (Fast Fingers) Welsford and Angie (Random Chords) Smith have been performing, writing songs and organising community events together for thirty years, singing their way through numerous political upheavals, cultural revolutions and just plain standing up against injustice. They provide high quality ukulele workshops at clubs and festivals up and down the east coast of Australia from Cairns to Tasmania, and are also tutors at Bellingen’s annual Camp Creative. They perform as The Wild Women of Anywhere Beach, interspersing beautifully harmonised original songs with evocative instrumental pieces, outrageous rock and sassy covers. A fearless song-writing duo, they compose contemporary folk ditties documenting the events, issues and celebrations of the times and of their outrageous life experiences. Their long awaited CD, Keep Laughing, Seriously is finally out, now available at festivals, on Spotify and through their website. Their latest CD will be launched at the Beach Camp! www.thewildwomenofanywherebeach.net.
The Wild Women of Anywhere Beach will be performing with Blue Gum Blossom on Friday night. They will be a part of the Songwriter Session on Saturday morning and launch their new CD in the Saturday evening concert.
Angie will be presenting The Strummers Paradise session on Saturday morning.