Bytown Ukulele Group

The Bytown Ukulele Group (BUG) is for people of all ages with an interest in singing and playing the ukulele together! All levels welcome. Beginners – don’t be shy! We have so much fun!  We bring song binders to each meeting for people to share. We also project the words and chords on two large TV screens in the room.
Regular BUG jam is on the 3rd Wednesday of every month. It’s free!
Ukulele Slow Jam is on the 1st Wednesday of every month at a small $5 cost, led by local music teachers/performers.
Where:  Clocktower Brew Pub, lower level, 575 Bank Street, Ottawa
When: 7 to 10 p.m. But come early and join us downstairs for a delicious dinner, snack, or drinks, anytime after 5:30 – meet new friends, and share ukulele tips and tricks.

Come out to strum, sing, eat drink and be merry! We have up to 90 people participating in our sessions! Come see what all the excitement is about!
If you’d like further information, please visit our website at



BUG started in Ottawa in the fall of 2008 with about 6 members, but has grown by leaps and bounds since then! We now have over 130 members with 50 or more members showing up at each and every BUG jam session!

As well as our monthly jam sessions, BUG participates in many other activities, such as:
community events by request:

  • Ottawa Folk Festival – jam sessions and uke workshops
  • Music and Beyond Festival – jam sessions
  • Ottawa Farmers’ Market
  • Ottawa Folklore Centre 35th Anniversary Concert
  • Ottawa Grassroots Festival
  • In From The Cold at Parkdale United Church – annual jam sessions
  • Dundonald Park jam session for Active Places, Healthy People initiative for the Centretown Community Health Centre
  • performed on stage with the Lucky Uke band at the Just for Laughs Festival (Montreal, July 29, 2011), to break the world record for most ukuleles playing the same song together – 1288 ukuleles playing Twisted Sisters’ “We’re Not Going to Take It” for 5 minutes!
  • Ukulele FLASHMOBs in downtown Ottawa
  • Ottawa Folklore Centre 35th Anniversary Concert
  • Organized BUG workshops with Manitoba Hal and Ralph Shaw
  • led the jam session/sing-a-long after the screening of “Mighty Uke” at the Mayfair Theatre
  • Ukulele Caribbean cruises 2013 and 2014
  • road trips together to see James Hill, Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, Jake Shimabukuro

An unofficial history of the ukulele:

Over a hundred years ago, in 1879, a ship arrived in Hawaii from Portugal with over 400 men, women and children aboard. They brought with them small stringed instruments called machêtes. They would play their machêtes together outside in the evenings. The Hawaiian people loved the sound of the machête! The King and Queen both learned to play the machête and encouraged Hawaiians to play the traditional Hawaiian tunes with it. The machête became wildly popular in Hawaii!

Why did the machête become known as the ukulele? Nobody knows for sure. One story is told of a British soldier who worked with the Hawaiian King and would play the machête at the King’s parties. The soldier was small and sprightly, and he played the machête very energetically, so the Hawaiians gave him the nickname of ukulele which means “jumping flea” and that nickname simply spread to the instrument he played. Another story told is that the fingers of a good player flying up and down the ukulele were like the movement of “jumping fleas”.

In 1915, a World Fair was held in San Francisco that ran for 9 months and attracted 19 million visitors. At the Hawaiian Pavilion, a ukulele band was playing. The people visiting the fair fell in love with the wonderful sound of the ukulele! The ukulele quickly became a huge sensation all over the world. Because it had only four strings, people found it was easy to play! And with only 3 chords they could play hundreds of songs right away! You can too!

Come be part of the ukulele revival! Join us – the more, the merrier!