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Largest ukulele ensemble world record to be attempted at Beatles fest

Chicago -- May 25, 2009 -- The Sitar Emporium at the Wonderwall Music Shoppe & Emporium and The Fest For Beatles Fans are partnering together in gathering a thousand ukulele and Beatles enthusiasts in a attempt to set a new Guinness World Records(tm) world record for the Largest Ukulele Ensemble this summer during the annual Beatles convention, The Fest For Beatles Fans, August 14-16, Hyatt Regency O'hare Hotel. This attempt will take place on the last day of the Fest, Sunday, August 16. Time to be announced. Check Fest website for admission charge and other info.

"With thousands of Beatles fans converging at this annual Beatles festival at the Hyatt, it just seemed like the right place and event to do this, so it wasn't too hard convincing Mark Lapidos, the New Jersey's Fest owner/promoter of the 'how' and 'why' of it all", said Chicagoland business owner, musician and artist GiGi Wong-Monaco who is spear-heading this world record event.

The official Guinness World Records(tm) count is 401 ukulele players set in Stockholm, 2007.

"We can easily beat that number at the Fest!" says an excited Wong-Monaco who with her husband Clar Monaco, is a regular Fest vendor. As one of the more popular booths at the Fest, their Sitar Emporium LLC shows the India-side of the Beatles, selling and demonstrating Sitars, Tablas, and other Indian instruments. Since the addition of Ukuleles to their booth and their Oak Park store, Wonderwall Music Shoppe & Emporium, it's become a huge hit especially since it was a passion of Beatle George Harrison. A special commemorative ukulele design will be available only through Wonderwall.

"Last year's special Fest guest, Neil Innes (The Rutles, Bonzo Dog Band, Monty Python), an ukulele player himself, helped 'set a record for the most ukulele players onstage at the Fest'. There were 28 players from all over the country playing the Beatles song "I Saw Her Standing There", said Wong-Monaco who organized that group.

The official venue for ukulele practices is Eastgate Café – 102 Harrison Street, Oak Park IL 60304. Weekly practices begin in June will be led by Wong-Monaco, founder of Oak Park's Harrison Street Ukulele Players. A video showing how to play the selected Beatles song on ukulele will soon be uploaded to YouTube.

"And there are plenty of connections between the ukulele, Hawai'i, Chicago and the Beatles", says Wong-Monaco, a Honolulu native, born and raised just minutes from where another Honolulu native two years her junior also lived: President Obama. So there's one major reason. A few more are:

Oprah Winfrey has a home on the Big Island of Hawai'i, is a big supporter of Obama, and a known fan of Paul McCartney who also plays the ukulele like his former Beatles mate, George Harrison; Harrison was also known for playing and composing many songs on the ukulele, and bought a place in Mau'i which the family still owns; the Beatles gave a concert at then Cominskey Park (Cellular One Field) on the southside; John Lennon gave his famous apology speech at a special press conference in Chicago; the Beatles stopped over in Honolulu in the 1960's; Chicago's favorite Beatles DJ, WXRT Terri Hemmert, #1 Beatles fan and Beatles authority, is the host of "Breakfast With The Beatles" on Sundays which is heard around the world via internet; the longest-running Beatles festival comes to Chicago every August which Terri Hemmert emcees; Chicago has hundreds of ukulele players and a number of ukulele groups! And, with the City of Chicago trying to get the bid to host the 2016 Olympics, why not add the Guinness World Records(tm) title to Chicago? But most important, the ukulele is just so fun to play and always puts a smile on people's faces!

Wong-Monaco is the founder and organizer of a popular and fast growing ukulele group in Oak Park called The Harrison Street Ukulele Players (aka Oak Park Ukulele Meetup Group). Within just three months of its inception, the group was invited to perform live on WBBM CBS2 Chicago "Early Morning News" prior to and for Obama's Inauguration Day, as well as to play at the only Chicagoland Obama Inauguration Bash honoring Obama's Hawaiian heritage organized by Wong-Monaco. The group performed two special Obama songs written by Wong-Monaco and ukulele group member Brenda Watkins which can be viewed on YouTube. The ukulele group welcomes new players every Thursday night at Eastgate Café from 7P-9P and plays Beatles, Hawaiian, Showtunes, Tin Pan Alley and other genres.

Wong-Monaco has formed a committee to assist in organizing this event. Donations by individuals and businesses for sponsorship, monetary and in-kind contributions, etc. to help with related expenses are greatly appreciated.

More info:
Guinness World Records(tm): www.guinnessworldrecords.com
Fest For Beatles Fans: www.thefest.com
Sitar Emporium: www.sitaremporium.com
Wonderwall Music Shoppe & Emporium: www.sitaremporium.com/WonderwallEmporium.html
Oak Park Ukulele Meetup Group: www.ukulele.meetup.com/89
Harrison Street Ukulele Players: www.sitaremporium.com/WWHarrisonStUkulelePlayers

Published May 25, 2009

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