When spring is in the air, and the first breath of April showers blows across the plains, the mind turns to simple passions. Luckily, for the past three years, the first week in April has wrapped lovingly around the Lone Star Ukulele Festival in Dallas happily just down the street from SoftLayer's main office.
Now I know what half of you out there are thinking: "UKULELE festival?!? Isn't the ukulele that kitschy instrument that every college kid in the 1930's carried around in the pockets of their raccoon coat? Isn't that the twangy noise maker that Tiny Tim crooned to on variety shows in the late 60's and early 70's?"
The answer, of course, is yes to both questions. Nevertheless, as attested to in the excellent documentary film Mighty Uke, the ukulele is enjoying something of a renaissance these days. From television commercials, to the Grammy award winning "Hey, Soul Sister" by Train, and across the globe the ukulele has plucked its way back into popular culture.
The other half of you are thinking, "Ukulele FESTIVAL?!? What the heck is a 'Ukulele Festival'?"
A Ukulele festival is an opportunity for ukulele players of all levels to gather together and learn. The Lone Star Ukulele Festival featured nationally recognized talent like Kimo Hussey, Pops Bayless, Michelle Kiba, Ukulele Bart, Four Strings of Swing, and Texas' own middle American good times band, The Wahooligans. These professionals taught seminars in topics ranging from basic music theory, to songwriting, to advanced blues and jazz chord structure, to performance skills. Such an event cannot be all work and no play, however, so the festival also hosted an Open Mic night, a Songwriter's Contest, and not just one, but two concerts, one of which was dedicated to classical music interpreted on the Ukulele. Vendors had a forum to sell their instruments and books and there was no shortage of "Jam sessions" where participants gathered in the hotel lobby just to enjoy each other's company and play songs together.
In short, a Ukulele Festival is a fun, relaxed atmosphere were like-minded people can revel in a common interest, share their favorite beverages, meet new friends and generally have a ball.
Now somewhere out there between the half of you that were wondering about the ukulele part, and the other half that were wondering about the festival part, I sense there is a cross section that is wondering what in the heck this has to do with SoftLayer and hosting. For those folks, I can only say this: At SoftLayer we work hard. We deal with large, complex systems and the difficult problems that arise from keeping those systems up and running. Sometimes the sailing is relatively smooth, and sometimes the waters can be a bit choppy, but we like to move forward and to do that we have to keep rowing.
Every once in a while though, when one has the chance, it's nice to take a break: let the current carry you. When that time comes, for me anyway, I pick up my trusty ukulele. For me, the Lone Star Ukulele festival was a great place for me to rest and refresh.
My friends, we've all made it through winter and into spring. April's showers bloom May flowers, ready for someone to stop and smell them. Hard work and dedication are important; get your work done! But equally important, be sure to set aside time to find your own simple passions, a place to indulge them, and friends to sit at your side once in a while. When you find your place, perhaps you could even pick up your own uke, and join them in a song.