What started out as a simple question, turned into a non-profit organization, a festival, and countless friendships in Las Cruces and around the country.
Written by CHERYL FALLSTEAD
In 2013, when I asked my multi-instrumentalist father which instrument I should learn to play, I could never have guessed that learning to play the ukulele would lead to the formation of a non-profit organization (the Las Cruces Ukes), the establishment of a popular ukulele festival (the Las Cruces UkeFest), and developing many wonderful friendships in our own group and around the country. But it has and at every Thursday evening practice, I glance around the room with wonder and think about how it all began with a simple question.
The group, which has performed 90 times around our community, will next present a performance that is especially important to us, the Stilled Strings Memorial Concert. It is in honor of three group members who passed away: my father, Roger McCandless, T.J. Diaz, and Bev Hale. The concert raises funds for Mesilla Valley Hospice, which provided care and support for each of them, and their families, in their final days. Having received hospice support for both of my parents in the last three years, I can say unequivocally that I don’t know what we would have done without their knowledge, professionalism, and loving care.
On March 9 at 2 p.m., the Las Cruces Ukes will perform some of our most popular songs as well as welcoming special guests to the stage, all of whom perform for La Posada residents.
The Stilled Strings Memorial Concert takes place at Morning Star United Methodist Church, 2941 Morning Star Drive. Admission is by donation and we’re hoping concert goers will be generous in their support of Mesilla Valley Hospice.
The next big event on the group’s schedule is the Las Cruces UkeFest, which kicks off Friday, May 17, at 7 p.m. with a concert at the NMSU Atkinson Recital Hall. The Las Cruces Ukes will warm up the audience, then the stage will be taken by professional instructor/performers from around the country. The festival also includes a Saturday evening jam session, lunchtime open mic, vendors, drawing prizes, and lots of ukulele fun. Learn about the instructors, workshops, tour, and all the other activities at
DON’T MISS IT
Stilled Strings Memorial Concert
March 9, 2pm
Morning Star United Methodist Church
Las Cruces UkeFest
Friday, May 17, 7pm
NMSU Atkinson Recital Hall
The ukulele is an instrument that is rich with history and tradition. First appearing in Hawaii in the 1800s, the ‘uke’ has found a unique home for itself in both traditional and popular music. If you’ve never touched a ukulele, or haven’t played in years, there’s still time to learn the basics. The Strum for Fun group meets at Good Samaritan in the Creative Arts Room, 3011 Buena Vida Circle, Thursdays from 5:15 to 6:15 p.m. Find out more at