Mark Jackson and Jane Jelbart (aka Jack n Jel) are a dynamic, collaborative, flexible, fun and funny workshop and performance powerhouse for festivals and music camps. Doing 9 uke workshops every week back home for the last 6 some years has really helped hone their uke and singing teaching skills.
For uke directors Mark and Jane, it’s not about them. It’s about the festival participants and the spirit of the place and the times in which they are immersed.
For Jack n Jel, their duo format, it is about them, but also about any other musical fellow travellers who can contribute at the time
As festivals, cafes and folk music camps around the globe can attest, Mark and Jane’s Ukestration Workshops are unique on Planet Ukulele. They can corral 5, 20, 50 or 300+ people into one great ukestra sound. They can do:
- a one off 45 minute festival workshop
- their own in-your-town 2 hour ukestration workshop
- deliver a whole week of ukulele skill development
- a punchy and entertaining 5 minute in-concert arrangement (see Billie Jean below)
Don’t trust them for commentary though.
Trust this unsolicited, unrelated (and unkind?) piece of feedback to a festival organiser.
Just a little feedback for you as it appears we bombed out with our choice of ukulele tutor this year – from a punter … “Granted Mark and Jane were a hard act to follow – they were not only skilled musicians – they also really hit the mark with being able to teach something to all skill levels. They kept it interesting and challenging unlike….. (this year’s tutor)”. All the anecdotal feedback from people I’ve spoke to reckon you guys were the best ever.
Libertango – a one week workshop
This version of Libertango was the result of working for one hour per day for one week with a bunch of beginners and experienced musicians alike at a Folk Music Camp in California. This is the very essence of participation. Point of clarification: they taught the tango dancers nothing…
Billie Jean – a five minute special
Mark and Jane also have an amazing ability to work with large one-off audiences of uke players. This off-the-cuff experience (with some help from 0n-the-spot friends – in the past James Hill, Aldrine Guerrero, The Nukes) results in a fabulous group experience for audiences as large as you want! We can’t do James Hill’s solo version of Billie Jean, but we sure can have some fun with 300+ people. Thanks to Rita and Jo for these twin perspectives on the same performance. The first one is better sound. The second contains some good close ups of Aldrine and some ‘ukulele aerobics’ (technically – ‘conducting’).
Mark conducts the audience participation, whilst Jane organises the cobbled together guest band (Aldrine Guerrero (Ukulele Underground) on lead ukulele, Ben Collier (from NZ’s The Nukes), Anu Grace on lead vocals and Cath McCourt on bass).
Jack and Jel – a duo (depending on who is around)
It is a commonly heard diehard ukefan phrase – you can’t play a sad song on an ukulele.
We like to explore the emotional canvas with the uke, vocal harmony and other instruments, be they happy, sad, insightful or funny.
For festival performances we engage with our audience, and deliver original and other songs into a (relatively) reserved performance experience. Over the last seven years (and with numerous incursions into the USA) we have grown to love and learn Americana tunes, and the reserved way in which these are delivered. But we’ve also written quite a few of our own songs over the years.
Here’s a few videos from the 2016 Blue Mountains Ukulele Festival (thanks to Penny Creighton for the front seat mobile phone vids).
Firefly – an original song by Jane
Warrnambool – an original song by Mark
Tread Softly – an original song by Jane
Why Don’t You Do Right