Performer and Instructor Bios

MANITOBA HAL – Instructor & Performer

Canadian blues artist Manitoba Hal is a ukulele master and singer-songwriter. He is known for his expressive voice and mastery of his instrument; his trusty baritone ukulele; Manitoba Hal takes his audience from the deep south to the islands with songs that are mournful, hopeful, silly, romantic and introspective. His original songs have become modern classics and his take on standards and popular blues songs of the past have brought him to festival stages worldwide.

He began his career as a guitarist but began to play the ukulele when he inherited a 1955 Martin uke from his beloved grandfather who told him “you can have it if you learn to play it”. And so, he did, continuing to master the tiny instrument, proving that the ukulele can be small but mighty as he pulls out powerful riffs and melodies adding background beats with looping technology showcasing the blues in all its passion and groove.

CYNTHIA KINNUNEN – Instructor & Performer

Based in Guelph, Ontario, Cynthia offers engaging instruction and support to students of all ages, with a focus on adult learners. This includes piano and ‘ukulele lessons, classes, workshops, and the Royal City Ukulele Ensemble program. She is the Founder and Director of the Royal City Uke Fest, Guelph’s annual ‘ukulele festival.

Cynthia has been a sessional lecturer at the University of Guelph, and is a contract part-time faculty member at Wilfrid Laurier University’s Faculty of Music. She is a Level 3 graduate of the James Hill Ukulele Initiative (JHUI) Teacher Certification Program, has served as a clinician in the program, and has worked for James Hill as part of his Uketropolis team, supporting a global network of engaged music teachers and learners. Cynthia remains connected with Uketropolis as a volunteer JHUI program mentor.



Cynthia will be joined by husband, Ben Coulson on bass, for the concert on Friday evening. With a love of everything from rockabilly to old-timey tunes, pop, folk and some trusty rock & roll for good measure, this ‘ukulele/bass duo will keep you entertained in those in-between moments, easing you into the next leg of your journey.





Carol Johns – Instructor

Carol started playing the ukulele in 2011 with the Harbour City Seniors Nordli group. She has been involved in organizing the ukulele festivals in Nanaimo since 2014. Carol plays the tenor and baritone ukulele and plays and performs regularly with the Folk ‘n Oldies group where she is the musical director. Carol also mentors two Ukulele in the Classroom groups with the Nanaimo seniors program. She is a Certified Level 3  James Hill Ukulele Initiative (JHUI) ukulele teacher.



Liz DeBarros – Instructor & Performer

A resident of Parksville, Liz has been playing the ukulele since 2011  and has a collection of sopranos, tenors, and baritone ukuleles. She has been on the Festival  team since 2017. She also sings, plays the UBass, bass guitar and sometimes even drums in local band, Revolving Doors, who will be leading the Sing and Strum. Liz is a certified Level 3 teacher the James Hill Ukulele Initiative Teaching Program. Liz taught at Arbutus Music School for two years and now teaches Group Lessons and gives Workshops in Parksville.

Liz was thrilled to be part of the Teaching Team for James Hill’s Harrison Hot Springs -“Sing. Strum. Spa” in October 2019

No Ukulele? No problem – Arbutus Music Store has made some ukuleles available to us for you to rent for the day. The cost is $10 but you will receive a Gift Certificate for $10 towards any purchase at Arbutus Music Store, 6324, Metral Drive, Nanaimo – just one block from the Festival Venue.


Concert Tickets are $25 or $10 for Under 19/Students

Workshops are $30 each

Sing and Strum only is $10

If you attend a workshop, the Sing and Strum is free to attend

Morning workshops – All run from 10.00am to 11.30am

Start Me Up OR CAFGD System for Beginners OR Chord Hand Uke

Afternoon Workshops – All run from 1.00pm to 2.30pm

Rhythm is Going to Get You OR Five Notes to Change Your Life OR Fingerstyle Ukulele

Online Ticket Sales close at 10pm on Wednesday June 7th – Tickets and Workshops can be purchased at the Venue on Friday June 9th 


For payments using e-transfer please email us at for further instructions and please include details of the tickets and workshops you wish to purchase in your email

If you order tickets online, your PayPal invoice is confirmation of your Registration. No tickets will be mailed out, you can pick up your concert tickets on Friday evening at the Registration desk at the Festival and your workshop binders and wristbands on Saturday morning/afternoon for Workshop folders & Sing and Strum