The majority of our acts come from the Apply to Play applications. This year there are between 15 and 20 spaces available to perform at our festival through this process. We are committed to finding new acts who use the ukulele and to helping folks develop (which is why we ask for such specific and detailed information below). Please know that we understand that we can never know everyone and genuinely hope this process helps us discover some new acts.
Over 200 acts from all over the world apply to our festival every year!
Applications Now Closed
TOP TIPS & USEFUL INFORMATION:
Want to Know More About Playing Our Festival?
There is only 1 round and we only look at the first entry for an artist so make sure that you have all of your information ready when you apply.
Use Your Highlights to Show us How you Stand Out
Most years there are only about 15 slots available. Last year we received over 200 applications to play and expressions of interest in our festival. As a result highlights section of the application can often play a major role in decisions to book acts.
Show Your Best Side
After six years of putting on a festival and working with countless others we’ve come up with some suggestions you might find useful in terms of helping you stand out from the crowd.
Our decisions are heavily based on the videos of live performance that you send in.
If it’s a close call, we will also listen to your work on Bandcamp, Spotify, etc. and if we’re struggling, we will go search for you on the internet.
Is your web presence strong?
If you haven’t done so recently, consider reviewing or updating your web presence before you apply to play. People coming to & supporting the festival will often want to learn more about you and regularly search the web for you & your work. On your webpage (or in the about section of your Facebook page, Instagram or similar) consider including a real quote from a real organiser, promotor, audience member or fan about how great you are. Give your future fans proof of how awesome you are. 🙂
Know Your Stuff
We understand that there are a lot of reasons folks might struggle with the words to a song but for the 1 video you submit to us, make sure you’re off-book. Music stands onstage can be seen as a barrier between you and the audience, and worse, can seem to suggest that folks didn’t spend enough time rehearsing (even if that’s not the case). Most importantly, remember that we get far more applications than spaces for the festival so we look to acts who project a professional image and are engaging onstage. Obviously, if you have a disability or condition which prevents you from learning songs, we would make an exception.
We may programme you on any of our stages. If you’ve never been to the festival before or would like to know more about the stages, read on.
You’ll find our festival mainstage at the Lawrence Batley Theatre. You can expect audiences of at least 500 with full lights and sound. Artists who’ve played this stage have included Victoria Vox, Andy Eastwood, Sarah Maisel & Craig Chee, Hope & Social, Phil Doleman, Francesco Albertazzi, Bryan Tolentino & Asa Young, Peter Luongo, The Quiet American, Ukulelezaza, Bad Mouse Orchestra, Biscuithead & the Biscuit Badgers, Opera-lele and many many more.
In the Cellar Theatre at the Lawrence Batley Theatre you’ll find our Unplug the Wood and Cabaret Stages. You can expect audiences of at least 100 with full lights and sound. Daytime performances and late-night cabaret take place here. Many acts from this stage go on to play the mainstage. It is also a place where people can try out new material. Artists who’ve performed on this stage include Plastic Jeezus, Ooty and the Cloud, Astraluna, The Poor Boys of Worcester, Ian Emmerson, Marc Gallagher, Mim and many many more.
Vinyl Tap (now The Parish) –
We run a Fringe Stage on Saturday morning. It has historically been in the basement of the world-famous Vinyl Tap Record Store and it moves to The Parish for 2020. You can expect audiences of at least 50 with sound. Note: there are some access restrictions here. This is a stage for GNUF debuts and performers keen to perform in this well-loved local venue. Acts who’ve performed on this stage include Isaac Hughes-Dennis, Belfast Uke Jam, Iain Glencross, Pitsmoor Ladies Uke Chorale, Liz Panton, Chonkinfeckle, AndyDan and more. Acts from here often go on to perform on the downstairs stage.
Pubs & Similar –
On Thursday and Friday of the festival weekend we book acts for our partner venues such as Northern Quarter, The Sportsman Pub and Magic Rock Brewery Tap. For each you can expect energetic audiences of 50-100 and short sets in a fun environment. These are engaging public performances best suited to acts with a lot of experience performing for crowds. Dead Mans Uke regularly perform in these settings (and have also played the mainstage). Veronica Sbergia & Max de Bernardi have also performed and many mainstage artists have made guest appearances on these Friday spots including Andy Eastwood, Lionel Hubert, Ukulelezaza, Peter Luongo, Bryan Tolentino, Bad Mouse Orchestra and others.
Important Information for Performers from countries requiring a work visa to perform in the UK –
Please note that international performers often require work visas. Our festival team includes immigrants and we are mindful of adhering to best working practices as regards UKBA and the Home Office guidelines.
If you are a non-UK/EU performer, please know that most of those kinds of bookings require work visas and often take place 2 years in advance so if we offer you a place it may be for 2021. Please also note that, at the time of writing, there remains some uncertainty regarding Brexit and specifically how those changes may affect EU citizens. Should work visas or similar be required for EU citizens, we will be in contact with selected acts to discuss matters.
The Response has historically been EPIC!
In the past few years, hundreds of acts have applied.
For our previous festivals, we have had incredible responses to our call for acts to apply to play. We regularly receive 5-10 applications for every spot available on the weekend. We have had applications from around the world with the youngest applicant only 9 years old and the oldest well into his 80s. As a result, there has been some astonishing talent, humour, great dress sense (and just good fun!) in these applications. We are excited about what the future holds!
Who’s Come Before?
In case you wondered… previous apply-to-play acts have included Opera-lele, Hope & Social, Andrew Molina, Biscuithead & the Biscuit Badgers, Katy Vernon, Percy Copley, Dead Mans Uke, Ben Rouse, Poor Boys of Worcester, Eat.My.Uke, Nakisha Esnard, Matt Hicks, Ukulelezaza (and family), The Toots, Plastic Jeezus, Edward Alice, Feckless & Fuddle, Ooty & the Cloud, Professor Peter & Doctor Dick, Robin Evans and loads more!
Members of our team have also been instrumental in bringing people from all over the world to the UK in the past decade to help them perform at our festival and/or tour. We are proud to say that we’ve supported Jake Shimabukuro (USA), Peter Luongo (Canada), Sarah Maisel and Craig Chee (USA), Ukulelezaza (Belgium), Andrew Molina (USA), Francesco Albertazzi (Italy), Aaron & Nicole Keim / The Quiet American (USA), David Meggarity / Tyrone (Australia), Manitoba Hal (Canada), Mike Hind (Bermuda), and many many more. We are proud of what we’ve done and we are excited to do more and new things.
Why we do it:
After nearly 7 years of inviting the best ukulele acts we knew to the UK we are still keen to expand our search for new talent. Most importantly, we are a not-for-profit festival run by a team of volunteers who are passionate about music and passionate about helping people do great things.