What do Rochester and Hawaii have in common? Well, for a brief moment this weekend, that’ll be world-renowned ukulele player Kimo Hussey.
Hussey, a native of Hawaii, will make a stop at Castle Community Sunday to a host a ukulele workshop and perform.
"The thing about ukulele that I like the most is that it’s fun to play – and that’s it," Hussey said. "As I travel around the world and interface with a lot people, that by far is the … thing that people around the world enjoy about ukulele."
"Generally, ukulele people, especially when they are learning, are not interested in becoming the world’s best ukulele players and are not interested in becoming entertainers," he continued. "What they love best of all is just (to) sit with friends or family and play just for fun. That is kind of a unique thing for anything, to do it just for fun. Especially nowadays – it seems like our lives are just so intense."
Hussey has a reputation around the world as a ukulele master. His unique style of playing and teaching makes it accessible to people of all abilities, according to longtime friend and luthier Dan Ryerson.
Sunday’s performance and workshop may be Hussey’s first visit to the Land of 10,000 Lakes, but his connection to the state goes back at least a few years.
“It’s going to be a different kind of concert. It’s not rock n’ roll at the Northstar,” Rochester guitar and ukulele maker Michael Keller said. “He is such a good player. It is going to be a real fun night.”
Keller has made Hussey multiple ukuleles. The Minnesota man’s relationship with the Hawaii native started through Ryerson. After Ryerson’s retired, he became an apprentice of Keller. Then he moved to Hawaii and met Hussey.
Hussey was staying with Ryerson in Hawaii while doing workshops, when the topic of how Ryerson learned to build instruments came up and lead the pair to Keller's Facebook page. Ryerson called Keller and Keller eventually offered to make Hussey a ukulele -- despite never really having made one before.
“I didn’t tell him that,” Keller said, adding that the first one was a success and the pair have had a wonderful business relationship since then.
“This has just been a really exciting thing to have fallen in with Kimo,” Keller said.
Hussey's first introduction to the ukulele came as a child. Growing up, he said there was at least one in every household and it first started as a toy before he grew older and developed his interest in music. After being drafted during university, joining the Air Force, and making a 30 year career out of it, Hussey wanted to get back into music.
"I chose ukulele because of the roots I've always had," he said.
So with his "very, very small and portable instrument," Hussey has been circling the globe since 2005. And finally, Minnesota gets its turn.