To view each performer's own website, click on their name.

Ralph Shaw

Ralph Shaw is a showman with a style inspired by British Music Hall and a witty raconteur with an infectious joy of performing. And as a gifted songwriter Ralph Shaw’s songs bring characters and situations to life with brilliant word play. Whether he’s singing about a village vicar, a brothel handyman or embodying an evil cat, his hilarious and sometimes tender songs thrill audiences with music and laughter. As well as traveling to entertain audiences at international festivals and ukulele clubs he also leads a monthly get-together of 140+ ukulele strummers in his home town of Vancouver, Canada. In 2013 he released two new albums called Love and Laughter.
Ralph’s ukulele workshops are a tour de force, helping new and experienced players get to grips with their instrument and performance technique. With a catalog of five solo albums, 4 teaching DVDs and two acclaimed books, Ralph Shaw has played a crucial role in creating the current ukulele boom. 


Chalmers Doane 

Chalmers Doane began his musical journey in Truro, where he won the prize for Outstanding Performance of the Music Festival, in 1946.  

His interest in teaching eventually led him to the NS Normal College where he came under the influence of the dynamic music educator, Catherine Allison.  Further study ensued at Boston University, where he majored in trombone, under Koko Kahila, and minored in string methods, working closely with Dr. George Bornoff.

As director of music education for the city of Halifax, he created a comprehensive music program designed to produce students who were musically literate by the end of grade six.   In addition, opportunities were created for every child to have an instrumental and choral experience in every school.  The music department boasted dozens of choirs, wind and string groups,  a class piano program, and the senior ensembles included a jazz band, symphony orchestra, pops orchestra, concert band, percussion ensemble and honour choir.  In addition, there was a thriving adult education program with as many as a thousand students attending weekly classes.   The use of the ukulele as an educational tool was one of the innovative aspects of the program that captured public attention, and which became the basis of a country-wide program.    

The last ten years of Chalmers' career were spent as professor of music education at the NS Teachers College.   In recent years, his influence on music education in Canada has been recognized by The Learning Partnership, an honorary doctorate from Saint Mary's University and membership in the Order of Canada.   Now retired, he is still pursuing his lifelong joy:  making music with his friends.



Melanie Doane

An accomplished singer, songwriter, musician, and performer - Juno Award winning Melanie Doane has been prominent in the Canadian music landscape for over 15 years. She has released seven albums, written many chart topping singles (“Adam’s Rib”, “Goliath”, “Still Desire You”, etc.), had her music featured on hit TV shows such as Brothers and Sisters, Being Erica, Flashpoint, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and traveled numerous times across Canada and the U.S. on various tours, both as a solo artist and opening for Jann Arden, Great Big Sea, and Sarah McLachlan.
In 2012, Melanie was cast as the Songwoman in the Tony-award winning play "WAR HORSE", performing 8 shows a week for a year at the Princess of Wales Theatre. Following "WAR HORSE", Melanie embarked on CPR’s Holiday Train Tour, performing 80 shows in three weeks across Canada in support of local food banks. This was Melanie’s fourth time performing on the tour.
Last year, Melanie officially launched Uschool, her music education program that currently serves over 400 students in Toronto elementary schools. Uschool is based off of Melanie's father's (Chalmers Doane) famous Ukulele in the Classroom program. Chalmers is an Order of Canada recipient for his contributions to music education.
While not teaching or being a busy mom to Theo and Rosie, Melanie continues to write and record new music and loves performing live. Her new single "Up To The Light" is available on iTunes now.

Jean Doane

Mike Diabo

Mike Diabo has laid claim to the title of Ukulele Surf King (uke virtuoso was already taken, phew). A founding member of the instro-Mental surf trio Urban Surf Kings, Mike has made it his mission to bring surf music to the masses through guitar or ukulele; whatever it takes. He is also a successful solo artist, movie/tv composer, producer, and has toured Canada, Antigua, and Italy. 


Mike founded the Halifax Uke Gang back in 2008 in order to have an organization for all ukers, regardless of ability, to get together once a month to play the ukulele. It boasts anywhere from 30-60 members.  H.U.G. recently played to over 50,000 people as part of Halifax's Canada 150 Celebration.

Sandra Obritsch

For over forty years Sandra Obritsch has been introducing children and adults to the wonderful world of ukulele and the joy of singing.  She has done this in Halifax, Berwick, Kentville, Bridgewater, Liverpool and points in between.  What a wonderful gift she has given to those who have been lucky enough to have her as a teacher.
Sandra was a driving force in organizing the first International Ukulele Ceilidh in 2005.  This festival attracted professional and novice ukulele players from all over the world and exposed Sandra’s students to outstanding skilled players through the workshops and concerts offered at the Ceilidh.  This festival has become a biennial event that many people look forward to attending.
In 2013 Sandra was inducted as the newest member of the Ukulele Hall of Fame of Nova Scotia.

South Shore Ukulele Players
Under the direction of Sandra Obritsch
The South Shore Ukulele Players started as a ukulele class for seniors being offered by music teacher, Sandra Obritsch, in the fall of 2002.  Since that time, over 200 people have learned to play the ukulele in her classes along the south shore.  Each year new students move up to the band increasing its numbers to over 30 players at any one time.
It was this group of enthusiastic players that organized the First International Ukulele Ceilidh that took place in Liverpool in 2005; and, they have been instrumental in bringing ukulele players and their families from around the world to visit our south shore.
Members of the South Shore Ukulele Players have always loved music; but, they have discovered how much more exciting it is to play the music they love on the ukulele.  Their selections reflect their varying interests from ragtime, big band, Rock ‘n Roll, Hawaiian, country and bluegrass to gospel.
The players have performed for large national organizations during the past eleven years. However, their greatest joy has been sharing their music with others, giving volunteer performances for nursing homes, churches and fundraising events from Halifax to Liverpool and Berwick, performing up to 50 concerts a year.

Gene Nichols - Professor of Music at the University of Maine at Machias.

Gene is the leader of the University of Maine at Machias Ukulele Club.  You can read about this group by scrolling down a bit further on this page.


The following is an article written by  Jacqueline Weaver of the Ellsworth American newspaper in Maine in January 2013.

 "The inspiration for the University of Maine at Machias (UMM) Ukulele Club sprung from a photo of nine coeds in middy blouses in the 1926 Washingtonia yearbook.

“Jim Sawyer, a custodian at UMM, saw the photo and showed it to me,” said Gene Nichols, professor of music at the university. “He knew I’d been playing the ukulele for 40 years already and was thinking of offering a ukulele class.”

It was enough to spur Nichols to revive the club in 2006 after its 80-year hiatus.

Like much of the music at UMM, the group eagerly brings in the community to supplement its ranks. The group plays at a variety of functions involving anywhere from two to 30 players.

It seems that once one joins the UMM Ukulele Club, there is no going back. Many members who have long since moved on stay up to date with current musicians via e-mail.

“I’ll bet we’ve seen upwards of a 100 people come and go,” Nichols said.

The group is eclectic. Over time musicians have included students, staff, faculty, alumni, local residents from 12 to 92, state park directors, health care professionals, beauticians, retirees, home-schoolers, bar band veterans, songwriters, Department of Transportation sign bearers, professional actors, storytellers and others.

Nichols said the appeal is the instrument itself. The ukulele is easy to hold and is relatively simple. There are four different sizes and three different standard tunings.

“It is portable. It is so non-threatening that it’s fun,” he said. “It invites group music-making, so you don’t need tons of equipment and lots of practice to sing songs, have fun and make music. It doesn’t draw much attention to itself, so it’s a conduit to social fun instead of an end unto itself.”

Nichols himself is part of the attraction for audiences. He is most often dressed in baggy, canary yellow pants with wild white hair and large spectacles.

The outfits are likely a throwback to his days as director of music and former band director for the Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. Circus and Wild West Show.

Nichols said he keeps the music simple — maximum three finger chords — for the varying skill level of the musicians.

The group draws largely from the Great American Songbook and other sources. Audiences are invited to call out a number and the musicians thumb through their collection and play it.

“The music attempts to provide a snapshot of vernacular music that’s come our way since the Revolutionary War,” Nichols said. “I use it as a living, changing document of applied academic research in sociology and American popular music history.”

The group’s music binder can hold 1,400 songs. The collection has been revised several times, most recently last week.

The musicians also use an auxiliary songbook for special occasions, such as Revolutionary War tunes for Margaretta Day, an anniversary celebrating the first Naval battle of the Revolutionary War, in Machias.

The ukulele group includes other musicians as well. The band has a bass guitarist, drummer, percussion auxiliary and singers.

Everyone, said Nichols, is welcome.

Gary Bushee of Sullivan has been with the ukulele band since the beginning.

He joined while finishing up his bachelor’s degree in fine arts and at a time when he said the instrument was enjoying a revival.

Bushee plays a variety of string instruments, from guitar and viola to fiddle, mandolin, bass guitar and folk harp.

Why does he do it?

“Gene Nichols for one,” Bushee said. “Any time I can be associated with any kind of activity he does is a happy day for me.”