Past Performers from 2019

Joel Mabus

"Joel Mabus is one of contemporary folk music's most eclectic performers. A skilled guitar, fiddle, banjo, and mandolin player and melodic songwriter, Mabus has played everything from traditional folk tunes to bluegrass, blues, and original songs." Craig Harris at

Where is he from? He was born and raised in a working-class family in a modest Southern Illinois town, about 105 miles southeast of Mark Twain, 190 miles northwest of Bill Monroe, 110 miles southwest of Burl Ives and just over the river and up the hill from Scott Joplin. When Joel's parents came of age in the 1930's, they took their old-time farm-grown music on the road with other family members as "hillbilly" entertainers, barnstorming the Midwest in medicine shows, small-town radio programs as well as their long-standing job performing road shows for the WLS Barn Dance.

This pedigree was not lost on Joel as a child in the 1960's. The family mandolin was his first calling, quickly adding banjo, guitar and fiddle. In the midst of Beatle-mania, Joel was drawn to the tunes of Bill Monroe and Earl Scruggs.

Joel made his first record for a small Michigan label in 1977 with mandolin legend Frank Wakefield guesting. Three years later he signed with Flying Fish Records for a two-record deal. In 1986 he was one of the first indie folksingers to start his own label (Fossil Records), even before the advent of the home studio and compact disc, which makes the practice so common today.

Mabus has toured widely and makes his living at music, though he is flying under the radar of American pop culture. Whether you label him folk, Americana , or a singer-songwriter, Mabus remains a one-off, walking that lonesome valley, making and marking his way as a working artist outside the confines of the usual music business.

Del Rey


I started playing guitar when I was four. At the age of thirteen I was introduced to the world of traditional acoustic music, when a friend and I stumbled into a concert at Folk Arts Rare Records in San Diego. About 20 people were sitting on the floor under the record bins listening to a kid named Tom Waits play his original songs.

Lou Curtiss, proprietor of Folk Arts and artistic director of the San Diego Folk Festival suggested I quit wasting my time playing “Stairway to Heaven” and listen to some Memphis Minnie. He put me on stage with Sam Chatmon when I was fourteen, and introduced me to Lydia Mendoza and Howard Armstrong. Lou gave me recordings that still influence everything I do on solo acoustic guitar. I soaked up country blues, stride piano, classic jazz and hillbilly boogie. It was a musical education hanging around the record shop. 

Thirty years later, I became fascinated with the ukulele. I try to play the same kind of complicated rhythmic blues and ragtime on four strings as on six. I expect a lot out of the little instrument.

“The ‘ukulele taken to a new level of musicianship”.      (John Book)

“Virtuosic in just the right way, which is to say, in order to realize a musical idea. A very nice unlikely blend of things, accessible, slightly nostalgic, but fresh and thoughtful. ” (CD Baby review, “At The Ukeshack #1)

I play solo concerts world wide and also present a concert/lecture on women musicians called Women In American Music.  I also collaborate and tour frequently with Steve James, Suzy Thompson and Adam Franklin.

I’ve contributed to projects in honor of The Mississippi Sheiks, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Johnny Cash. I occasionally write about music for various publications, including Acoustic Guitar.

My most recent release is just me, singing with uke and guitar; it’s called Solo. All albums available from Hobemian Records

Kimo Hussey


Kimo Hussey is Hawaiian, and was born and raised in Hawaii with an education from Kamehameha Schools. 

He graduated from Occidental College in Southern California and intended to return to Hawaii to be involved in music education. The military draft and his subsequent decision to enlist in the Air Force instead led to a career as an American Air Force pilot. During this career, he was both active duty military and then retired from the Hawaii Air National Guard in January, 2000, with a keen desire to re-ignite his interest in music. 

Since then, he has recorded one solo ukulele CD - the sold out and much sought after "Eminent Ukulele" - and has participated in several other composite ukulele CDs. Kimo is also an author of the multiple award winning Hawaiian songbook, He Mele Aloha which has sold millions of copies around the world and has been translated into other languages. 

Kimo is a former director of the Ukulele Guild of Hawaii, previous Board Chair for Sounding Joy Music Inc. (a non-profit organization specializing in clinical music therapy), and the Board Chairman and Founder of the Pacific Music Foundation, a non-profit organization specializing in Hawaiian music. A practicing musician and instructor with vocal, choral directing and instrumental experiences, Kimo is self-taught in ukulele and has been playing since childhood. He is a much-sought performer and teacher, and travels extensively to ukulele festivals and workshops around the world.

The Ukulele Kings


The Ukulele Kings are a fun and involving all-ukulele trio featuring tasty and clever originals along with select covers you never would have expected to hear on the uke. All members of the combo are veterans of the Lansing music scene; songwriters and ukulele players Ben Hassenger and Patrick Malloy played for years together in the legendary band Mystic Shake and bassist Steve Szilagyi laid down the foundation for the alt-country band The Weepers. Great for parties, festivals, corporate events, and more – contact Ben at for more information and booking. Check out the videos below to get a taste of the Kings, more are available to watch and listen to on their YouTube playlist.

Hoapili with Hula ‘O Puanani



We are a 4 piece authentic Hawaiian band.  3 are local boys from the islands of Hawaii & Oahu and 1 from the island of Naperville, Illinois, who love to share the beauty of our culture through our music.


Hula ‘O Puanani

Under the direction of their teacher (kumu), Shasta Puanani Hud was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawai’i and currently resides in Downers Grove, Illinois. Shasta began to dance hula at the age of five, and continued dancing throughout her teen years with Auntie Lucy Lee, and later in her early twenties with Auntie Rose Joshua. It was in her early twenties that she was selected, among a group of Hawaii’s most talented dancers, to represent Aloha Airlines and travel the world spreading the Aloha Spirit through Hula.

Hula ‘O Puanani began with one keiki (child) in 1994. Since then, the Hālau has flourished as she continues to teach all ages: keiki as young as 5, teenagers, young adults and gracious ladies (45+). Auntie Shasta continues to expand and share her knowledge of hula by attending workshops throughout the Midwest as well as back home in Hawai’i. She is proud to teach what she has learned and share her “Aloha” and passion for hula with her Haumana (students). Through her and her Haumana, she continues to carry on the “Spirit” and beautiful tradition of Hula!

Hix Bros Ukulele Band

Initially started as a club at a local family owned business, the Hix Bros Ukulele Band has evolved into a talented and entertaining performing ensemble.

The band has performed at numerous events and venues including Aurora Greenfest, the Fox Valley Mall, and Loaves and Fishes: A Day Without Hunger.

The band is currently led by Carl Hix, co-owner of Hix Bros Music, music educator, and seasoned multi-instrumentalist.

Facebook: Hix Bros Ukulele Club

You can learn more at

Kevin Presbrey

Ukulele infused rootsy folk rock is one way of describing the vibration Kevin Presbrey is casting out there these days, but you could also very well say that his songs have a way of giving you that cozy feeling of being snuggled up by the fireplace in your favorite hooded sweatshirt. He's warm and familiar to you. Embracing the influences of storytellers Jim Croce, Don McLean, and Van Morrison along with modern troubadours Ryan Adams and James Bay, Presbrey's midwestern sound and personality is the vehicle for the stories he lives and shares. 

Since the early 2000s, KP has amassed a loyal following throughout North America thanks in part to his songs appearing on MTV, VH1, and Fox along with being afforded the opportunity to share the stage with national acts Sister Hazel, The Doobie Brothers, Rusted Root, Big Head Todd and Tonic. Turning heads in Chicago's music scene with his first solo release Dust Unto Dust, his song "Always With Me" made its way to the airwaves of WXRT radio in 2013 followed by a national television performance on WGN's morning news. 

Gaining steam in 2017, Presbrey's relentless lust for connecting with audiences has driven the release of his fourth studio album Falling Together. Where Dust Unto Dust (Produced by Ryan Hadlock: The Lumineers, Strumbellas, Vance Joy) centered around picking up the pieces following the sudden passing of his father in 2012, Falling Together is a reflection of his experiences as life moved forward with his father there in spirit. Recorded at Left + Right Studios in Nashville, TN with producer Skylar Wilson (Andrew Combs, Rayland Baxter, Justin Townes Earle), KP tapped into that white hot East Nashville vibe this time around in his quest to perpetuate positive feelings, togetherness, and simply finding the bright side in life. From great tragedy comes great triumph - and peace.

Mundy Park Stage

Todd Lorenc

Back for the second year and a crowd favorite, Todd Lorenc is originally from Joliet Illinois. Todd grew up playing music in many bands. Multi instrumentalist and singer, Todd enjoy's playing original ukulele compositions and covers. He is also a huge Beatles fan. Todd plays live music for events, weddings, art openings and special events. His goal is to bring the ukulele into new and exciting areas while trying to make ukulele an unlimited instrument! He is currently working on his YouTube channel and Instagram. Follow Todd on YouTube/ Todd Lorenc Ukulele Music And also on Facebook/Instagram.

Matt Taylor is a music artist who resides in Rockford, Illinois. He has played music in front of live audiences for over 20 years—covering a variety of music genres such as jazz, classical, reggae, and pop. 


Aside from performing live, Matt loves to teach music, and has mentored hundreds of musicians for over a decade. In fact, he teaches people how to play the ukulele through his YouTube channel, U CAN UKE.


Since April 2017, Matt has posted ukulele tutorials and play along videos on a weekly basis—gaining over 200,000 subscribers and millions of video views on U CAN UKE. You’ll find out on his channel that he teaches songs through a simple step-by-step process. He starts every lesson off by introducing song chords, follows with the chord progression(s), and then adds a strumming pattern. He provides a short demonstration of all those elements combined towards the end of his lessons. If the viewer desires to play through the entire song that they learned, they may refer to his play along videos.


There’s something for both beginners and seasoned ukulele players on the channel. Feel free to check out U CAN UKE on Youtube!

YouTube Sensation

Matt Taylor


Katie DeNure, One Music School

Katie DeNure is a classically trained singer that teaches voice, guitar, and ukulele.  She earned her Bilingual and ESL Literacy certification in 2006 and has been teaching music lessons since 2008.  She decided to pursue teaching music full time in 2013 at Heid Music, where she teaches to this day.  In 2016, she launched her YouTube channel "One Music School", featuring ukulele, voice, and guitar lessons, which has reached over 185,000 followers and 11,000 followers on Instagram. 

In addition to teaching, Katie has had the opportunity to teach and lead music for hundreds of special events, women’s retreats, youth conferences, and church services and continues to play and serve on a regular basis.

The Wild Blue ‘Ukulele Orchestra

The Wild Blue ‘Ukulele Orchestra is dedicated to expanding people’s notions about what the humble little four-stringed instrument can do. Using a full range of ‘ukuleles—from sopranino to baritone and banjolele to U-Bass—the Wild Blues perform primarily fully orchestrated, house-made arrangements of songs in a variety of genres (folk, jazz, rock, pop, classical, reggae, standards, and even some funk), with a smattering of vocal numbers thrown in. We tailor set lists to suit various event.

Mirabelle Skipworth

Mirabelle Skipworth is an Oswego, IL Native who has played throughout the Chicagoland area as a solo singer/songwriter for a few years now. Her music is rooted in folk music and draws inspiration from rootsy and story-telling-driven music. She occasionally draws on her own experiences, but thrives off of helping to tell the stories many can't do themselves.

Line up subject to change. Please watch for additional artists to be announced

2019 Sponsors

Alderman Mike Saville

6th Ward Fund

aurora logo.png

Alderman Juany Garza

         2nd Ward Fund

Alderman Scheketa Hart-Burns

             7th Ward Fund

           Alderman at Large

            Sherman Jenkins

                            Ward Fund

Alderman Judd Lofchie

       10th Ward Fund

Alderman Ted Mesiacos

       3rd Ward Fund

        Alderman At Large

         Robert O'Connor

                   Ward Fund

aurora downtown.png