Aloha City Ukes is a family owned business located in the Ravinia District of Highland Park, Illinois, where music is in the air. We specialize in quality made ukuleles from great manufacturers like KoAloha, Kanile’a, Ohana, Lanikai, Romero Creations, Kala and more. We don't carry cheap plastic toys, we only carry quality instruments that inspire you to want to play more.
As a long time guitar player and working musician in an acoustic duo, I have always loved acoustic instruments. After going to culinary arts school in Hawaii and getting burned out in the hotel/restaurant management industry, I decided to do something I enjoyed which led me to working in the music industry. My first industry job was working at Guitar Center as the Assistant GM of a very busy store. I learned a ton about gear working there, met a lot of great people and sold a lot of guitars along the way. That position led me to getting hired as the Regional Sales Manager for Cort guitars in Northbrook, IL. After a few years there, I was hired as the Product Manager for Washburn and Parker guitars in Mundelein, IL. That position brought me all over the world visiting various guitar factories and attending trade shows. Along the way I encountered many ukuleles but I never paid much attention to them because they were all what I call “toys”. They didn’t sound good and they didn’t stay in tune so they never kept my interest. Well that all changed when I was in Hawaii and I first strummed a KoAloha Tenor Ukulele that my Mother-in-law had. It was love at first strum. That’s when I realized that the ukulele was an actual instrument. She then showed me a video of Jake Shimabukuro and I saw the true potential of the uke. I quickly learned some songs and started working it into my live set and people were loving it. As my love for the uke grew, I wanted to try different quality ukes so I could add some more to my collection. Sadly, there was no place in the Chicagoland area with a decent selection of quality ukes, especially made in Hawaii ones. That is the main reason I started Aloha City Ukes, I thought that there had to be other people like me around Chicagoland that want to play a nice uke before they buy it. Now my goal is to show everyone what “real” ukes are and to offer a nice selection of them. I have visited with all of the top manufacturers and have picked a great selection of ukes for you to choose from. I hope they inspire you as much as they do me.
Aloha and happy strumming !!
Of course, I couldn't do it all by myself. Here are some of our team members.
Cindy - Everything Technical
Cindy runs the website and handles all of the computer related stuff, inventory stuff and balances the books. She also handles all of the photography for the website so she's always busy photographing the new arrivals. In her spare time she loves working in her garden and spending time with her family which includes 5 cats.
Johnny V -
John Vitale and Matt worked together at U.S. Music Corp/Washburn back in the day. Johnny was the Artist Relations Manager and also handled the key accounts like Amazon, Best Buy, etc. He is a music industry veteran and continues to work closely with some of the biggest names in the business as an Artist Relations Manager. In his spare time he likes to golf and play guitar in his Megadeth tribute band High Speed Dirt (yes, he can shred like crazy). We're happy to have him on board to help run the store.
Rob K - Instructor
Rob Klein has played ukulele since 2011 and has been teaching since 2015. Since graduating from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2018, Rob has been bringing people together through music. He teaches private ukulele lessons and occasionally leads the weekly sing-along/lesson here at Aloha City Ukes. His musical interests are in folk, bluegrass, jazz, and classical and he also plays the mandolin and double bass. We're happy to have Rob as a member of our team as he truly enjoys helping people play better.
Louie Z - Instructor
Louie Zagoras is a local legend and one of the best players around. His band Rollover plays all over Chicagoland and beyond. They have been on the road supporting top rock acts like The Allman Brothers Band, Joe Satriani, Sheryl Crow, Blues Traveler, The Neville Brothers, John Hiatt, Hot Tuna, Johnny Winter, Buddy Guy, Robin Trower, Cheap Trick, Eddie Money, and many others. In addition to being a monster guitar and ukulele player he's also one of the nicest people you'll ever meet. I still think of him as "Line 6 Louie" as he was working for Line 6 Amplifiers back when I met him. We are very happy to have him on board as one of our instructors.
Jenny Peters - Instructor
Jenny is a local legend who not only teaches music in the local schools here but has also written several ukulele books. One of the books is "21 Songs In 6 Days", which is a great book to get you up and running playing easy songs. You can also check her out on YouTube as she has a lot of great videos up there.
Irwin Silbernik - Instructor
Irwin teaches Guitar, Piano, Ukulele, Mandolin and Music Theory.
He has a talent for connecting with his students, and tailoring lessons to meet their diverse needs.
Irwin has a true love for teaching. His compassionate and inspiring approach makes each student feel special, cared for, and successful.
Irwin is a trustworthy educator with exceptional communication, interpersonal, and leadership skills. These traits enable him to cultivate strong relationships with parents and students
Tony C - Repairs
Tony Calderisi and Matt have been friends since Jr. High school. They played in a band together in high school and continue to play as an acoustic duo these days. Tony handles all of the major repairs and does the pickup installations for Aloha City Ukes. You may know him from Minstrel Music in Niles, IL as he was there for over 20 years. He also has a full band called The Band Calderisi which just released a great rock album, check it out on Itunes. We are very happy to have him lend his talents to Aloha City Ukes.
Interview with Chris from UkeStuff
Take a quick tour of the store here: