Southern Indiana Ukulele Luau 2009 Report

The second Bushman Ukulele Luau turned out to be an intimate crowd again with a few more attendees than last year. Those who did come were treated to some great informal and impromptu performances Saturday by Zoe who flew in from Toronto, Jodi Mathews, Wade Johnston (who Julia Nunes has dubbed “The Boy Me”), and DaveDaveDave who flew in from Ft. Myers. This moved from the stage at the Bushman Brewhouse to what turned into Zoe’s communal cabin to continued well into the night. 


John Hall talking to the attendees

John Hall, the owner of Bushman, mistakenly judged that no one was coming and had almost canceled the Luau a few days before. This unfortunately brought the attendance numbers down, but didn’t hamper the enthusiasm any. The venue this year was a defunct golf course clubhouse that John has turned into a fine little music, food and drink venue, as well as the new home of the Bushman company. Its only fault is lack of decent stage lighting, which hopefully John will correct before next year.

John also noted that he’ll be charging a small fee next year for the Luau. This is not to make money off this labor of love, but to set up a registration system so numbers are known before hand and arrangements can be better made to accommodate everyone and coordinate seminars. About time. Oh, was that a yellow journalism on my part?

The Luau is followed next month by the Ukulele World Congress, nearby in Needmore, Indiana on Plum Creek Rd. This is being billed as the “Burning Man of Ukuleles.” It runs June 5th until squatter’s laws are enforced. Camping is encouraged, but there are also hotels nearby. Info at 812-988-6760.

The UWC was prompted by fans of Mainland Ukes, owned by Mike Hater and his wife Tookta, both former Bushman employees who were downsized last summer. Mike was the luthier who finished all the Bushman ukes. He and Tookta opened shop in Nashville recently to much acclaim. His ukes are produced in the same factory in China as the Bushmans to vintage Martin specs, and have a distinctive rope binding that draws a lot of attention. Interestingly, the entire Luau showed up at Mainland Friday and Saturday to try out Mike’s new ukes.

Pictures from the event…


Wade Johnston performing


Jodi Matthews (hellojodi) and Zoe (ukulelezo) and taking their turn in a sing-around


Zoe (alias ukulezo) lecturing on technique.


Jodi Mathews (alias hellojodi) finds a new venue in Nashville ripe for ukulele performances.

7 Responses to “Southern Indiana Ukulele Luau 2009 Report”

  1. wish i could be there…

  2. Abandon life and be there, man. They’ll be talking about Wooduke for years to come. : )

  3. Ukulele World Congress Info? on May 12th, 2009 at 11:53 am

    Is there a website for the UWC? I’d love to find more information about it, but turned up nothing from a Google search.

  4. You might want to look in the forums on

  5. The link Julie posted above is it:

    Mike at Mainland is fairly informal about this all but has already rented the site, so it’s all go. I emailed him yesterday about it not even being on the Mainland site. It will be up there in a few days, but the above link has the basics.

    This will be nothing formal but looks to be fairly well attended. Mike is not looking to make this a commercial thing. He said he plans to be drinking beer and not promoting his ukes. I pointed out that somebody needs to be selling strings. (Mainland Ukes will manned by a friend of Mike and Tookta all weekend so strings will be available.)

    Mike specifically wants it to be spontaneous but here’s the schedule from Mike’s email yesterday, if you can call it a schedule:

    “FRIDAY: People show up in the afternoon,the cabin is open at 2pm.
    7pm Needmore community pot-luck. The neighbors will be bringing food to share with all the players and attendees.
    9pm-ish Bonfire and lots of fun late into the night.

    SATURDAY: Morning time to explore Nashville and Brown County. Breakfast specials at a ma and pa place in Nashville.…up&contentID=2

    We will meet up again in Needmore for a lazy afternoon in Needmore, swimming,canoeing,hiking and hanging out at a private lake and fireing up a grill or two.
    Saturday evening and night will have more camp fire jamming and a few special performances in the main field.

    SUNDAY: I think most people will be leaving on Sunday,but for those who are staying this will be a day to further explore the surrounding area or relax in the country. A few folks have talked about staying longer, I’ve already thought about some possible field trips.”

    I hope he doesn’t mind be posting that. It’ll be Ukestock and you’ll be able to say you were there.


  6. Hey, for those that missed it, it is happening again! June 5-6
    Just go to for more info. Interestingly enough mainland is doing their camping thing thing that weekend too right down the road.

  7. Should be an interesting weekend.

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