The Heavy Boxes play last year's Great Midwest Ukefest. This year,… (Dorsch )
Proving that no niche group is too small to earn its own Chicago festival, Avondale's Chief O'Neill's Pub (3471 N. Elston, 773-583-3066) will become Chicago's home of the ukulele with the Great Midwest Ukefest on Saturday. Showcasing the best acts of the Chicago Ukulele Cabaret and featuring an open-mic and ukulele lessons, the festival will take place from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Amateurs looking at a chance to show off their uke skills will jam at the open-mic from 1 to 6 p.m. before an extended set of Chicago Ukulele Cabaret favorites. Among the performers will be Aloha Lives, Heavy Boxes, Bone and Bell, Jeffrey Weisfeld Combo, Hee Haw, Discarded Pearls and Vic Miguel. And for those who can't resist "Star Wars"-related ukulele bands, you are in luck: Uke Skywalker and Tuba The Hutt will be there.
If you've never had the pleasure of attending a ukulele cabaret, expect short performances featuring the tiny instrument and usually centering on some theme. Last year's festival brought in around 100 uke fans throughout the day, according to co-emcee and co-founder of the Chicago Ukulele Cabaret Tony Bianthi, so expect a slightly smaller atmosphere than Lollapalooza.
Anyone who wishes they could wail on the ukulele like Zooey Deschanel can sign up for the 11 a.m. lessons with Lanialoha Lee of the Old Town School of Folk Music.
To sign up for the few spots left in the open-mic or to buy in advance the $10 tickets for the festival, visit the group's website, here. More information on the Chicago Ukulele Cabaret can be found here.