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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Fab Four strings: Williamsburg Festival features Beatles favorites on the ukulele

All uke need is love.

The entire Beatles catalogue will be played on the ukulele as part of a two-day, marathon-like musical festival in Williamsburg this December.

Nearly 100 musicians will come together for the 2nd annual Beatles Complete on Ukulele. Brooklyn-based music producer Roger Greenawalt will play the ukulele, which usually has four strings, on all 185 of the Fab Four's songs.

"My arm is going to be sore," said Greenawalt, 48, who dreamed up the unique concert with business partner David Barratt. "My hand is going to be sore, too. I'll probably be hallucinating by the end of the night."

Other musicians signed up for the event include pianist Mike Wolff of the Naked Brothers Band and Ryan Miller, lead singer of Guster.

"It's a really unique idea and it's something I'm super-psyched to be a part of," said Miller, 36. "There's going to be a crazy cast of characters uniting around this silly cause of playing the Beatles on ukuleles."

The audience is also encouraged to Help! with the music. A microphone will be set in the middle of the crowd with a projector showing the chords to each song for anyone wanting to play.

"Obviously, we're not going to turn that mic up very loud," Greenawalt said. "But people are still invited to play."

Upwards of 4,000 concert-goers are expected at this year's show. Last year's concert drew nearly 1,000 fans and raised "hundreds" of dollars that were donated to America's richest man and ukulele aficionado, Warren Buffett.

Buffett used the money to purchase 17 ukuleles for an after school program for at-risk teen girls in his native Omaha, Neb.

"We were actually invited to have lunch with Warren Buffett," Greenawalt said. "We brought him a paper bag filled with the literally hundreds of dollars we collected. He loved it."

All proceeds from this year's concert will be donated to Yoko Ono, a move Greenawalt said was not made in jest.

"Yoko gets a very bad rap for breaking up the Beatles" he said. "We want her to know we are not making fun of her."

The 2nd annual Beatles Complete on Ukulele will take place Dec. 5-6 at N8 in Williamsburg. Admission is free to anyone who brings their own ukulele or comes dressed as Yoko Ono.


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