Teenage discovery

Singer/songwriter Manitoba Hal finds success with the ukulele.

Manitoba Hal performs at the Millstone Winery on Wednesday (July 25).

Manitoba Hal performs at the Millstone Winery on Wednesday (July 25).

Manitoba Hal was at a friend’s place when an incredible thing happened.

“I was sitting in a friend’s house and I didn’t even play a musical instrument and he was jamming on a guitar and I just knew right then that I was going to be a musician and that was what I was going to do for the rest of my life,” Hal told the News Bulletin. “I didn’t even play a note. Seriously it was just that kind of a weird realization.”

At the time, Hal was 18 years old, but in that moment he knew that he would never be satisfied with a regular day job.

“There are many jobs that people do and some people are quite happy to do a job their whole life for the paycheque, but I am not one of them. I find that I get bored and depressed.”

Following his musical revelation, Hal has gone on to become a respected blues musician, having performed around the world with his ukulele.

This weekend, Hal will be showcasing his talents in the Harbour City as he performs at the Nanaimo Aloha Ukulele Festival.

“I have travelled all over the world doing these kinds of festivals and there are very few pure ukelele festivals in Canada,” Hal said about the festival. “So it is really nice to find one and have one on Vancouver Island.”

Prior to his weekend performances in Nanaimo, Hal will be playing his music on board a Via Rail train.

“To get to Nanaimo I am performing on Via Rail as part of their Artists on Board program,” Hal said. “I am crossing the country by train and performing in the lounge cars to get to the festival.”

Unlike the majority of blues musicians, Hal performs with a ukulele. Hal, who was born in Winnipeg, originally started out playing the guitar but switched to the ukulele after his grandfather gave him one as a gift.

“He gave me a nice 1955 Martin, with the condition that I learn to play it,” Hal said. “I loved my grandfather and I still do, but he’s passed on and I think of him everyday. I had to learn a bunch of songs that he knew. This was my idea. I would learn music that he knew instead of just playing what I did.”

In order to play the ukelele, Hal began learning how to read sheet music. He also had to learn and understand musical theory on a deeper level.

“It was a fantastic thing and it opened a lot of doors for me,” Hal said about the learning process. “When I started playing the ukelele what I discovered was that the ukelele moves above my voice. So, I have the music sitting above the sonic range of my voice and my voice below and it created a really nice unexpected balance.”

Throughout his career, Hal has released a number of albums, including Flirting with Mermaids, Devil on the Wall and Down in the Kitchen, which was released this past May.

Manitoba Hal performs at the Nanaimo Aloha Ukulele Festival at Millstone Winery, 2300 East Wellington Rd. For more information, please visit www.prshopper.com/alohafest.htm.

arts@nanaimobulletin.comTwitter: @npescod



Just Posted

Regional District of Nanaimo is seeking input from the public for its transit redevelopment strategy. (News Bulletin file)
Public input sought as RDN works on transit redevelopment strategy

RDN wants to know where people want bus stops, shelters and pedestrian and cycling connections

Douglas Holmes, current Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District chief administrative officer, is set to take on that position at the Regional District of Nanaimo come late August. (Submitted photo)
Regional District of Nanaimo’s next CAO keen to work on building partnerships

Douglas Holmes to take over top administrator role with RDN this summer

Neighbours fight a small late-night bush fire with garden hoses and shovels in Cinnabar Valley on June 5. They couldn’t get help from local fire services because the fire was located in an area under B.C. Wildfire Services jurisdiction. (Photo courtesy Muriel Wells)
Nanaimo residents on edge of city limits left to put out bush fire themselves

Cinnabar Valley residents tackle fire with hoses and buckets for two and a half hours

Nanaimo artist Dave Stevens is displaying paintings inspired by arbutus trees and the Millstone River at Nanaimo Harbourfront Library from now until the end of fall. (Josef Jacobson/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo writer and artist’s work goes up at Harbourfront library

Dave Stevens presents work inspired by arbutus trees and the Millstone River

The courthouse in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file)
Nanaimo man, already in jail, found guilty of sexual abuse of sons

Man previously sentenced for sexual interference involving girl in Nanaimo

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps near Nanaimo

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Most Read