James Hill, an artist who has been called "The Hendrix of the ukulele," takes the stage at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 1 at the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College. The show continues the Community Concert Hall's series: "Artists You Need to Know" featuring lesser known performers worthy of special attention.
An award-winning Canadian performer who "gives the ukulele its dignity back without ever taking himself too seriously," according to Songlines, Hill is lauded as a singer, songwriter, educator and virtuoso instrumentalist - and a man on a musical mission to have the sound of ukuleles strumming happily into the night.
"I remember when I first heard James Hill," said Denise Leslie, director of Durango's Rocky Mountain UkeFest. "I'd just started playing the ukulele, and I was exploring ukulele artists on YouTube. James' video came up showing him playing Michael Jackson's 'Billie Jean.' Well, my mouth dropped open and I was completely engaged. I researched his background and discovered that he has the one and only Teacher Certification for ukulele. And it's practically impossible to get to one of his courses because he only does four a year...in the world. And HE'S coming to Durango."
Hill grew up in Langley, British Columbia, where ukulele instruction has been mandatory in many schools since the late 1970s. To his fourth grade classmates, the ukulele was a means to an end, an entry into music, but for Hill, the ukulele was a sea of possibilities in and of itself, and inside its wooden shell he saw his life in music.
During his teenage years, Hill honed his skills as a key member of the renowned Langley Ukulele Ensemble and as a student at the Langley Community Music School. He continued his music studies at the University of British Columbia, and went on to author the Ukulele in the Classroom method book series. His most ambitious educational offering to date is The Ukulele Way, a ground-breaking, multi-modal learning method.
See Hill playing Hendrix's "Voodoo Child" on the ukulele at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wzsE67O5tE&feature=youtu.be, and performing "When You're Smiling" at <URL destination="https://www.youtube.com/watch%3Fv%3D5jSx5UQ2AP0.%0D">https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jSx5UQ2AP0.
</URL>The Community Concert Hall launched its "Artists You Need to Know" series in 2017 to draw attention to musical gems well known in their regional, home areas, but likely unfamiliar to Durango audiences.
Tickets for James Hill and $24 and $29 and are available on-line at www.durangoconcerts.com or call 247-7657, or visit the Ticket Office inside the Durango Welcome Center at Eighth Street and Main Avenue in downtown Durango.