For those of us who can’t remember three chords and sing at the same time, Maura Kennedy of The Stringbusters delivered a massive dose of inspiration Friday night in Morris Township.
She managed to strum a ukulele, sing Rain Kili Kilihune (in Hawaiian!), and keep a hula hoop circumnavigating her body, without missing a beat.
It was a fitting finale to the first night of Uke New Jersey Too!, a ukulele festival that concludes today, Aug. 30, 2014, at the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship with day-long workshops by the Kennedys and others, capped by more concerts starting at 7:30 pm.
The other Stringbuster, Maura’s husband Pete Kennedy, said the hula act once made the world’s greatest uke player, Jake Shimabokuro, surrender in awe.
Surprisingly, Maura said the hooping was not the most challenging part of this particular performance. “These newfangled hula hoops are weighted,” she said modestly.
No, it was the Hawaiian lyrics she worried about.
“A lady in the front row was singing along,” Maura observed. So she had to get it right on Friday.
But this singer-songwriter, who met her husband while touring with Nanci Griffith’s band in the ’90s, radiates lots of sunshine from the stage and she has a high-wattage strategy for stressful situations.
“If I’m a little nervous, I look at the audience and smile,” she said.
Pete, she’s a keeper.
The Kennedys, Jim & Liz Beloff, Cathy fink & Marcy Marxer, Honor Finnegan and Stuart Fuchs will be giving ukulele workshops all day Saturday, Aug. 30, followed by concerts in the evening. Admission is $50 for the workshops, and $20 for the concerts, or $65 for both. Children 12 & under get in free, if accompanied by a paid parent or guardian. The Morristown Unitarian Fellowship is at 21 Normandy Heights Road.