Lark Camp Redux

balkandans2Hope you’re all enjoying these last days of summer vacation!  Taylor and I just got back from another amazing week up in the Mendocino Woodlands at Lark Camp, where the music never sleeps.  I took  three ‘ukulele classes every day, hula, swing dance, swing singing, and attempted to learn how to play the mandolin I bought in a weak moment 30+ years ago in Italy. I also  took a couple of tango lessons (that’s right) and enjoyed “‘Ukulele Happy Hour” just about every evening before dinner. I’m not exactly sure what Taylor was up to, but he did take two slack key guitar classes a day, earned enough money to buy a new guitar, performed during the ho’ike, and put a lot of miles on his mountain bike.  I didn’t get to see him, but I heard reports that he was also one of the major sources of entertainment on the shuttle bus. Rebecca’s “Midnight Bolero” in Camp One was fantastic and got a standing ovation. That was followed by an extremely entertaining bus ride back to Camp Two, where we stay, in which everyone on the bus started hammering out “Bolero” on one instrument or another, which segued into the theme from “Star Trek,” which somehow ended up as the theme from the “Addams Family!” I just can’t say enough about how much fun this camp is….you’re going to have to experience it for yourself.

honeys_hula‘Ukulele classes at Lark Camp are taught by Mark Nelson (“Fun with your ‘Ukulele”), Kevin Brown (contemporary Hawaiian songs), and Robyn Kneubuhl (Queen of the Diminished and Walking up the Neck). If you were at the Wine Country ‘Ukulele Festival last year you probably had a chance to see Robyn and Mark  perform at the lu’au.  (Robyn also teaches hula and writes music…she’s just amazing.)  Robyn has a band back on Maui with long-time friend Ginger Johnson; they are The Hula Honeys.  Their first CD,  Life Just Got Sweeter is one of my all-time favorites.  At Lark Camp Robyn taught us how to play the title song (written by her and Ginger) the way she plays it. (You know all those chords on the chord chart you never thought you’d need to learn….well, guess what!) For some reason, I don’t quite sound like Robyn…..but I’m working on it.  She also taught us “Hana by the Bay,” another beautiful, original composition from the Honeys’ newly released CD,  Girl Talk.  You can download either CD at their store, or download it from the link to the right.  It’s money well-spent.

Flea Fest!

Enough of that.  We need to start planning for our next Flea Fest.  Diana has generously offered us a permanent home at NapAloha.  However, if anyone would like to offer an alternative, please let me know right away.  Our next Flea Fest is scheduled for Sunday, August 30.  If I don’t hear from anyone, we’ll go ahead and meet at NapAloha, 1428 Main Street, in St. Helena, at 6pm.  Erich Sylvester will be joining us again and we’ll be picking what songs we want to play for our 15 seconds of fame on the stage at the festival. Those who want to be part of the performance troupe  can also agree on a good night to meet to practice before our next Flea Fest (September 27) when Erich will come back again to help fine tune us.  This is totally voluntary and no one should not come to either Flea Jumpers or the weekly practice sessions because they have stage fright or aren’t planning on going to the festival.  We want you all there. We should also think about a “uniform.”  In fact, maybe we could see what Diana has in the way of shirts that we can all agree upon.

New Affiliate

HA80thAnniv_S38MauiArrival_smYou may have noticed the new Hawaiian Airlines link on the right. That’s because Hawaiian Airlines has joined the Wine Country ‘Ukulele Festival as an affiliate. What this means is that anytime you link to Hawaiian Airlines through this link  to book a flight, you will receive an additional 5% discount off the lowest webfare for transpacific flights between now and June 30 of 2010!

At the same time, you will be helping the festival accrue points with Hawaiian Airlines so that we’ll be able to bring over more of your favorite Hawaiian artists for future festivals. And (this is the best part) if you are a member of HawaiianMiles, you will also accrue points in your own account!  It’s a win-win and we are extremely grateful to Hawaiian Airlines for this opportunity.

These days I fly on Hawaiian Airlines whenever I go to Hawai’i, which can be 4 times a year.  Among other things, I love their schedule, which gets you from San Francisco, Oakland, or Sacramento  to Oahu by late morning–in time to catch a few waves at Kuhio and stop by Leonard’s Bakery for hot malasadas stuffed with dobash before checking in at the house, unpacking, and trotting out to the beach for a quick swim before dinner.  Coming home, Hawaiian Airlines has a drive-up check-in stand at the Honolulu Airport  so you can drive right up in your rental car, unload your bags and check-in on the spot, return your rental car, and get the shuttle bus back to the airport without humping your bags all over the place. And, if you have the Hawaiian Airlines credit card, you can lump the miles from everyone in your family into one account and rack up the miles for fee travel even quicker.

alohacards jpeg for webAs much as I love my work, not all those trips I make to Hawai’i each year are  for “pleasure”  and I don’t always get to “hit the beach.”  Among other things, I publish and sell a card game called Go Fish! Hawai’i  which is played like the regular Go Fish, except that instead of asking for aces or kings, you have to ask for the fish by their Hawaiian name: “Do you have any humuhumu-nukunuku-apua’a?” It’s turned out to be more popular than I ever dreamed possible with both kids and adults.

Hiro with Jake (2)But, enough about me.  Look who went to see Jake Shimabukuro at the San Sebastian Jazz Festival this summer! That’s Hiro Sone and Lissa Doumani, who must have taken some time off from their ever-popular St. Helena restaurant, Terra.  Hiro has been getting around this year.  Here’s a few shots of him enjoying Aloha Music Camp last February, which leads me to some great news!  After a brief hiatus, Aloha Music Camp will be up and running again next summer at their new home in Keahou on the Big Island. This really is a life changing experience so, if you’re interested in going, be sure to book early, as this camp has always sold out in the past.

Hiro with Keola









Party! Party!

Clarice Stasz, one of the masterminds of the Petalukes in Petaluma, has invited me to the lu’au they’re putting on, Saturday, August 29 at 6 pm at the Petaluma Moose Club (300 English Street, Petaluma).  Would anyone like to go with me? It’s a fundraiser to sponsor  Ralph Shaw’s performance at the California Veteran’s Home during the ‘ukulele festival.  I can fire up the mini-van and make stops all along Highway 29  between St. Helena and Napa to pick people up. It sounds like it’s going to be loads of fun and it’s only $12  (kids are $6)! It would be great if we could support these folks as they’re raising funds to sponsor  Ralph Shaw’s performance for the vets at the California Veteran’s Home in Yountville during the ‘ukulele festival.  They’re also trying to get some ‘ukulele programs established for the kids over on their side of the hill. So, if you want to go with me and you have my email address, just send me a note. Otherwise, respond in the comments below and I’ll take it from there.  Here’s a little something to get you in the mood:

Speaking of  ‘ukulele programs for kids,  the Calistoga Boys and Girls Club has just taken delivery of a dozen soprano ‘ukuleles from Ohana to kick start their’ ukulele program.  If all goes according to plan, the Wildcat Flea Band, will be onstage during the festival.  They’ve also got a private workshop lined up with Brittni Paiva. If there are any other teachers out there who’d like to get something similar going for their students, please let me know.  We can help make that happen.  (This is the second youth group in the Bay Area that we have been able to help with their ‘ukulele program.)

Also, if any of you would like to schedule a private (or small group) lesson with either Brittni Paiva or Derrick Sebastian during the festival, please let me know right away. They’re both excellent teachers and the available time slots will probably disappear very quickly once they’re announced to the general public (especialy the ones during the “lunch break.” The cost is $30 for a half-hour session. Let me know.

Support Local Theater




Burning Uke!


Andy and Burnng Uke


Those wild and whacky folks from Santa Cruz are at it again.  Burning Uke VII, a huge camp-out and ‘ukulele party at Big Sur, has been scheduled for September 17, 18, 19, and 20 at Plaskett Creek State Park, at the Southern end of  Big Sur. The cost is $35 per person, which includes camping fees for Thursday, Friday & Saturday nights. (Check out is noon, Sunday.) To reserve your spot, you need to email Marty Carlson or call him at (831) 440-9382. Please read the following before calling or emailing.

Your $35 includes:

One, two, or three night(s) camping at one of the three group campsites. (The cost of an individual site, if you choose to get one, is NOT included and must be paid in addition to the $35.)

Lots of new play a-long songs and ukulele (and maybe  Hula) workshops.

Friday & Saturday night dinners (Thursday dinner you will be on your own, but they will fire up a gas grill for all to use.)
Paper plates, utensils and napkins for dinners, gas grill and/or charcoal
And maybe a few exciting surprises!

Friday’s dinner will be chicken and pork sausages with buns & condiments provided
Saturday dinner will be burgers, again  with buns & condiments provided
Desserts and side dishes will be “potluck” both nights and everyone brings a dish to share depending on their last name:

Friday night            Saturday night
A-I = Side Dishes        A-I = Desserts
H-P = Appetizers        H-P = Side Dishes
R-Z = Desserts             R-Z = Appetizers
(If you prefer to bring something that does not fall into these categories, by all means just bring it, but  please do bring something for each dinner you will attend.)
And please don’t forget to bring a serving utensil if one is needed for your dishes and don’t forget your uke and any other acoustical instruments you might have.
You are on your own for all breakfasts and lunches.
As far as camping goes, small RV’s are OK but there are no hook ups. Small travel trailers or campers can park at the group area. But, if your RV is a biggie, you may have to get your own individual site.  Some individual campsites at Plaskett Creek are “first come, first serve.”
Here’s what else you should bring:About your dogs and any other critters: state campground law is that dogs must be leashed at all times. However, we will be camping in close quarters in a group area and would rather that you leave your critters at home (except the ones you plan to BBQ).  If you must bring your dog, it must be well behaved and non-dangerous (no incessant barkers or biters) or we may have to ask you to take him home if it is bothering others.
  • Ukulele Club of Santa Cruz Songbooks 1 & 2
  • (There will also be songbooks for sale)
  • Other music you would like to share – make 80 or more copies
  • Your own chair for the play-a-longs and hanging out
  • >>>> Music stands <<<<
  • Headlights or clip-on reading lights for after-dark playing
  • Extra batteries
  • NO Coleman lanterns for the Play-a-Longs – Please… they’re too bright
  • Warm clothing (it can be cool!) including gloves?
  • Rain gear
  • Sunscreen
  • Your own drinks and food except as shown above
  • Surfboards & Boogie Boards
  • and obviously your own camping equipment / stoves / tents / sleeping bags etc.

I haven’t decided whether or not I’ll go yet, but I could easily be persuaded if I had a travelling companion.  Let me know.

See you Sunday.