All performers are also presenting workshops at the festival.
The Old Silo invites you into a world of new beginnings, old regrets, might-have-beens, burning questions, beautiful women, horny geezers and gold diggers. Produced by indie rock hero Joel Plaskett and recorded at New Scotland Yard in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, James Hill's latest album cuts a deep, winding path through Folk, Roots Rock and Americana.
Hill has made a career as an award-winning ukulele player and songwriter, an artist who “gives the ukulele its dignity back without ever taking himself too seriously” (Songlines). The Old Silo sees him charting a course into deeper, rockier waters with Plaskett at the helm. The album has an edginess and swagger unlike anything Hill has ever recorded: the thundering baritone ukulele riff in She's Still Got It wouldn't be out of place on a Black Keys album and the grinding slide ukulele in Tie One On would make Jack White proud. Catchy, energetic cuts like New Moon, Promenade and Lovebirds would be at home at any outdoor summer music festival.
But it's not all sex, drugs and ukulele. There are moments of stillness and striking beauty: the haunting strings in For So Long, the intimacy of I'll Never Know, and the country ballad If Wishes Were Horses show that Hill hasn't entirely lost himself in overdriven amps and pounding drums.
In addition to Hill's work on ukulele (tenor, baritone and slide), violin and drums, The Old Silo features a number of talented guests: Plaskett sings harmonies throughout and plays drums on five tracks, Anne Janelle brings soaring harmony and cello, Bill Stevenson adds his inimitable piano style to three songs and Joe Murphy weighs in with his killer blues harp on the hard-driving Promenade.
The Old Silo is Hill's first album since his acclaimed Man With a Love Song in 2011 and he has been anything but idle in the interim. World travels, strained friendships, persistent memories and a wedding have shaped the cast of characters that inhabit the world of The Old Silo. It's a cast that reads like the credits to an imaginary off-Broadway play: a mother, a father, an only son, an old man and two beautiful women. The album unfolds like a well-wrapped gift, each song revealing something more about the characters and, in turn, about the author.
Welcome to The Old Silo. Who knows what you'll find inside.
“If you thought James Hill was simply the ukulele wunderkind, his latest album will convince you that he is also a great songwriter.” - Penguin Eggs
“Once again Hill makes his case as one of the best songwriters of his generation.” - Ukulele Magazine
Lil Rev grew up in Milwaukee, WI where he still resides today. Growing up in the shadows of American Motors Corp, Briggs N Stratton, and A.O. Smith, he was inspired by the sights and sounds of an industrial powerhouse in flux. His music is infused with a strong sense of humility for the common man.
His heroes include: Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Josh White, Sonny Terry, Cicso Houston and Leadbelly.
After graduating in 1987 from John Marshall High School, Lil Rev went on to earn his Bachelors Degree in Community Education from UW-Milwaukee.
Following his college education, Rev decided to take a job working for local 998 as a city bus driver under the Milwaukee County Transit System. He stayed on for 1 year before the urge for going was too strong!
From 1993 to 2000, Lil Rev traveled extensively throughout the Midwest, performing in coffee houses, at house concerts, in schools, libraries, temples, on streetcorners, in taverns and at folk festivals.
From 2000 to 2005, Lil Rev decided it was time to ply his trade as a full time grade school music teacher (Milwaukee Jewish Day School) and as an adjunct lecturer/music historian at The University of WI- Milwaukee.
Following 5 years of teaching, the road called and Lil Rev knew it was time to court the muse once again!
Since that time, Lil Rev has stayed very busy, writing over 8 instructional ukulele books for Hal Leonard, while touring North America extensively.
He tours the east each fall and the south and west in the winter months, while also flying around North America to teach and perform at Ukulele Festivals.
While Lil Rev is well known for his ukulele and harmonica stylings, he is also a seasoned multi-instrumentalist equally adept at old time banjo, flat-pick guitar and blues mandolin.
Born and raised in Hawai'i and transplanted to the Washington D.C. area to pursue careers, **The Aloha Boys**, Glen Hirabayashi, Isaac Ho'opi'i and Irv Queja - met in 1996 while playing music for their children at Halau O 'Aulani, a school of Hawai'ian culture, in the Washington, D.C. area. A special and exciting bond grew musically among the Aloha Boys, who love to kanikapila or play an acoustic down-home, backyard-style Hawai'ian music, a style which includes everything from the very traditional to contemporary songs and styles. They all sing lead and backing vocals. Their voices blend in a nahenahe (soft pleasant) style. They have performed at numerous functions from backyard parties to concerts and at many venues including Carnegie Hall and on the National Mall at the openings of the World War II Memorial and the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, the Kennedy Center Millenium Stage, the Barns at Wolf Trap, and in Rheims, France, Toronto, Canada, New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Charlotte, Southern California and Hawai'i. In Hawai'i, their peformances include Pakele Live, the Gabby Festival, Slack Key Guitar Festival O'ahu Style, and Slack Key Guitar Festival, Virginia Style. The music of the Aloha Boys brings them and their audience back to a lifestyle that is unique and precious to Hawai'i.
The Aloha Boys are:
Issac was raised in “WAIANAE” on the island of O'ahu. He is one of nine children, including a twin brother, Ivan. He graduated from Waianae High School and then joined the United States Army. He moved to the Washington D.C. area and currently is employed with the Federal Government. Isaac received the love of music from his father who only played Ki’ho’alu (Hawaiian Slack Key). The guitar is one of his favorite instruments but he can also play the ukulele and bass. He truly enjoys playing music with his close friends, Glen Hirabayashi and Irvin Queja. Gigi, Isaac's wife, is the booking agent for the Aloha Boys. Isaac and Gigi have two daughters, Bess Nanipua and Emily Kukana, both of whom have danced for Aloha Boys' performances, a son, Jeffrey, who is a recording engineer, sound tech and engineering student, and three beautiful grandsons Noa, Charlie, and Benji. Photo by Colleen Ricci.
On vocals, guitar, and bass guitar, Irv was born in Wahiawa, O’ahu, graduated from Damien Memorial High School in Honolulu and earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Communications at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. While in Hawai’i, Irv’s initial interest was in rock and roll and Top 40 music, playing the drums in several local bands. Later Irv’s interest expanded to include jazz, and it was not until his move to the Washington, D.C. area in 1979 that he began appreciating and playing Hawaiian music. Irv moved to this area to work for Hawai’i’s junior senator, Spark Matsunaga, and remained with him until 1990. Irv continued his employment in the US Senate from which he retired in 2011. His wife Shirley is also from Wahiawa. Haunani, their youngest daughter, is a graduate of the University of Hawai'i. Noelani, their oldest daughter, is a graduate of the University of Maryland and is an Alaka'i for Halau O "Aulani. Photo by Colleen Ricci.
Uncle Glen was born a long time ago on O'ahu. His family lived in Lanikai at first, but moved to a tiny house with a huge yard on the beach in Kailua with 100 coconut trees lining the driveway. He then moved to Kaua'i when he was in the second grade. He lived in Kilauea, Kaumakani, Kekaha, and Waimea on Kaua'i and spent a lot of time in a family cabin in Koke'e. His first musical instrument was the ukulele. Charlie Kaneyama used to come to the elementary schools on the west side of Kaua'i after school to teach ukulele. He remembers listening to the kanikapila sessions under the hau tree near Poipu Beach on Sundays. He didn't play much Hawai'ian music until he arrived on the East Coast the second time. He then really started playing a lot when his kids starting dancing hula with Halau O 'Aulani. That's where the Aloha Boys were born. Glen has been in the Washington, D.C.area (this time) since 1986. His wife, Donna, and two daughters, Ashley Hokunani Spaulding and Amy Melenani, support his Aloha Boys habit. Ashley is a graduate of Virginia Tech and resident of Dallas, Texas. Amy is a recent graduate of Virginia Tech and is traveling the world with Adventures in Mission. Hokunani and Melenani dance the hula for Aloha Boys performances whenever possible. With mixed emotions, Glen retired as an attorney for the U.S. Tax Court in 2012. Photo by Colleen Ricci.
Frets Halligan has been playing and teaching ukulele and guitar privately and in groups for many years. He was surprised that while he was rediscovering the ukulele, so was the rest of the world! Frets has been a catalyst for community uke groups in Maine, including Belfast and Newport. He says "I'm passionate about the ukulele: it's simplicity, beauty, and inherently playful nature."
“UncleZac” is a Fairfield County CT ukulele performer and teacher who has played the uke for over 50 years. He has a wide range of styles and materials that he performs and teaches. He has performed in several bands including Sharkey & the unknowns, a local 50 s and 60 s oldies group, Tim Currie’s Mowtown Band, Roswell & the Ukulaliens, a five piece ukulele band, The NY Ukulele Ensemble, “uke consultant” to the Darien High School Ukulele Group and leader of the Laphalele’s, a senior uke ensemble in New Canaan , CT. He presently fronts a trio performing uke & vocals with sax/clarinet/flute and upright base known as UncleZac & the ZacTones
Unclezac is the author of two chord charts, “Bari to Soprano and Back Ukulele Chord Chart” and The Ultimate Chord Inversion Chart for Ukulele” distributed by The Magic Fluke Company.
UncleZac is the author of several chord charts, “Bari to Soprano and Back Ukulele Chord Chart” and The Ultimate Chord Inversion Charts for Ukulele. In addition to teaching private and group lessons, he has also presented several workshops and performed at venues including The New York Uke Fest, The Tampa Bay Uke Fest, The New Jersey Folk Project Uke Fest, The Fort Lauderdale Uke Fest and The Funky Frets Uke Fest in 2015.
He plays music from Leon Redbone to Jimmy Buffett to Allan Sherman and more. Primarily a bari player, he never travels with only one uke because as uke legend, Fred Fallin, says, “each one has a different voice”, a necessity for different songs, so bring more than one.
Jack Kohler has been an elementary school teacher for twenty years. He currently teachers fourth grade in the Philadelphia Public School System. In addition to teaching, he stays active by running, biking, and kayaking, and recently became a certified diver. Jack also writes and illustrates children's books including The Duck Said Baaaa!, Pig Flew, and his most recent publication, Bitsy Blew a Bubble. Jack fell in love with the ukulele about two years ago. Since then, he has taught ukulele to a group of students after school two days a week, and to a group of teachers and administrators every Friday morning. Jack's passion for the ukulele stems from its ability to break down barriers and bring people together.