KillianFest benefit concert to build ukulele collection at Kingston Library

Robert Burke Warren playing a ukulele.

Hundreds of ukulele lovers will join hosts Robert Burke Warren and Calder Mansfield on Friday, July 9 between 4 and 8 p.m. in Phoenicia’s Parish Field for KillianFest, a concert to benefit Catskill Ukulele Group, which builds ukulele collections for checkout at Hudson Valley libraries. The benefit is sponsored by Hudson Valley Foundation for Youth Health, a Kingston-based charity that empowers children and teens through a broad range of programs. Suggested donations of $25 can be made on the Foundation’s website at hvfyh.org or day-of at the event.

Event organizer Barbara Mansfield described the origins of Catskill Ukulele Group in a 2019 article in Ukulele Magazine by Heidi Swedberg, a sponsor of the event.

Catskill Ukulele Group was started in my living room by my son, Killian Mansfield, when he was 15. He was at home in hospice care for terminal cancer, teaching a small ukulele group. He wanted me and his dad to keep the group going. He said, “The world would be less pissed off if everyone played ukulele.” After he passed away, we tried meeting in parks, restaurants, community centers, people’s homes, music stores and then finally the library in Phoenicia. We first came to the Phoenicia library after noticing that you could check out a fishing pole there. I thought, if you can check out a fishing pole, you sure as hootenanny should be able to check out a ukulele at a library. No other space offered the consistency, support, flexibility and access to resources. Librarians helped bridge the gap in providing meeting reminders, allowed us to make copies, provided coordination with leaders of meetings (to make sure someone would show up to orient new-comers), and ensured a non-judgey space for people to learn ukulele.

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Warren and Mansfield will be joined by performances from El Vuelo Del Quetzal (Ida Hakkila and Perla Ayora), Loveypie, Katie Martucci, Mick Golden, Mark Lerner and Nancy Howell, Ukulele Jake, Jeff Bailey, the Builders (Dan Shapiro), Carmen Borgia, Mike Rice, Cole Freeman, Laila Smith and Rebecca Hendricks, John Sturman, Kaia Dedek, Helenius Ukestra and many other ukulele enthusiasts.

The benefit will start a collection at the Kingston Library and shore up collections at the Town of Ulster, Olive and Phoenicia libraries. Contact Barbara Mansfield at mansfield@hvfyh.org for more information.