Thanks so much to everyone who turned out last Sunday!  The beginning workshoppupu hoursing along format seemed to work well, so we will do it again!  Here are links to the songs that we practiced in the workshop.  (They’re two to a page so we can 1) save paper and 2)fold in half and use with the kani-ka-pila klip.)

The Yellow Rose of Texas and Cornbread and Butter Beans

Didn’t Leave Nobody but the Baby and Chain of Fools

Jambalaya and Get Together

Also, I’m trying to update the list of other ukulele clubs and scheduled jam sessions in the area. If you know of any that I have not included (and I’m sure there are many) and can send me the link to their website, I’ll get them included as soon as possible.

Here’s Something New

From Kani-Ka-Pila!  Handy dandy ukulele fret stamps in different colors and a limited-time price reduction:

Click on any of the links for more information.

Benefit Concert

And last, but certainly not least, here is an email I received this morning from Cathe Glass:

Aloha   kakou!
This invitation is coming to you because you are a dear friend and I hope you may want to help. . . . .  as you may or may not know, my twelve year old grandson James is currently battling Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.  We are sure that he will win! 
Herb Ohta Jr.(Santa Clara, CA - Benefit to Fight Non-Hodgkins Lympho...With great aloha, my dear friend Herb Ohta Jr has decided to dedicate his concert at Santa Clara University to James and the fight against Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.  All proceeds will be donated the medical fund.  Please join us for an evening of wonderful Hawaiian entertainment and support for the cause.  With your help, it will be memorable.  Details are below.  Hope to see you there.                                            
Herb Ohta Jr.(Santa Clara, CA – Benefit to Fight Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma…
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
6:30pm until 9:00pm
Santa Clara University – 500 El Camino Real Building [114] Music & Dance, Recital Halls, Santa Clara, CA 95053
More information about the event:
Mahalo!  Me ke aloha no,  Cathe  
Extra attraction – Na Leo Nahenahe, the San Francisco Hawaiian  Chorus will open for Herb.

Cornbread and Butter Beans

And I leave you with the Carolina Chocolate Drops and Cornbread and Butter Beans


Peace Love Ukulele Documentary Premiere!

Peace Love Ukulele Documentary  

On March 14th, the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival will premiere the documentary ‘Peace Love Ukulele,’ an in-depth profile of ukulele master Jake Shimabukuro, at the Castro theatre.

Produced by the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM), the documentary follows Jake on tour throughout the United States and Japan and examines how he revolutionized the ukulele and became the most innovative player in the world.

For tickets and more information go to:

And there’s more:

Go For Da Record..Hana Hou!

Go For Da Record  

Ukulele players from around the world will be coming to Hawaii to participate in an ukulele ensemble led by Jake. Go For Da Record…Hana Hou! will take place at 7:00PM on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at the Blaisdell Arena in Honolulu, HI. They will assemble the greatest possible number of ukulele players in a 2nd attempt to break a Guinness World Record.

All funds raised from the Go For Da Record…Hana Hou! event will go to the Music For Life Foundation and the Rainbow for Japan Kids. For more information go to:…hana_hou.

Greetings (from Whistler, BC)!

I’m assuming you all know that registration for the Wine Country ‘Ukulele Festival (September 10, 11 & 12) is underway and workshops are filling quickly.  We’re doing things a little differently this year in that you must pre-register for the workshops so we can have a little better control on attendance.  Here are some links:   Saturday Workshop Schedule, Sunday Workshop Schedule,  and  Workshop Registration.

We also have a number of volunteer “opportunities” available, including some coveted spots as workshop monitors. Workshop monitors get to attend the workshops for half-price and simply have to make sure that people attending are on the “list.”  We’re still looking for monitors for the following workshops: 


Session 1: Del Rey’s African-American Ukulele;  Victoria Vox Rocks; Kimo’s Kan Ka Pila; Robyn’s Hapa Haole Hula

Session 2: Ralph’s Intermediate Strumming


Session 1: Del Rey’s African-American Ukulele;  Victoria Vox Rocks;  Robyn’s Hapa Haole Hula; Ralph’s Intermediate Strumming

Session 2: Derick’s Pa’ani; Hula Honey’s Harmony; Victoria’s Master Class; Ralph’s Advanced Strumming; Del Rey’s Master Class

Session 3: Ginger’s Ukulele for Guitar Players; Kimo’s Master Class; Derick’s Master Class

Let me know if you’d like to take advantage of any of these opportunities.

Also, we still need “hosts” and “hostesses” for some of our musician/instructors.  I can’t tell you how much fun this is, especially if you have two or more of them staying in your house at once…it’s non-stop music.  My neighbor “took in” Ralph Shaw at the first festival…..and now she won’t give him up.  Our “Director of Transportation,” Susan Bonney, insists on doing the airport runs  because it is non-stop music and mayhem all the way. I’m only reluctantly offering this opportunity to others because I have filled every single bed in my house!   So, please, let me know if you have a spare room you’d like to “donate” to the cause. You won’t regret it!

There are also a few other changes you should know about.  We will have a Friday night concert at the Napa Valley Opera House featuring James Hill, with appearances by Ralph Shaw, Victoria Vox, Kimo Hussey, and Del Rey.  I probably don’t need to tell you what a great venue the Opera House is and they are fully expecting to sell-out. As there will only be one stage at this year’s festival at Beringer, this could be the only opportunity to see James in concert  while he is here.  Tickets go on sale to the general public on Monday and you buy them directly through the Napa Valley Opera House.

Speaking of James Hill, if you were at last year’s festival, you probably remember James’ ‘ukulele rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.”  Well, he’s been working on it.  Here’s what he has to say:

So, I’ve been working off-and-on for years on my cover of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.”  It’s been something of a pet project that I turn to every once in a while.  Last year at the Wine Country Ukefest I cracked the “how to play the beat, bassline and chords” part of the puzzle but I couldn’t manage the vocal at the same time.

Well, nearly a year has passed and I’ve finally worked up a version of the tune WITH vocal.  The debut performance of this new version was filmed live at the 2010 Dusty Strings Ukefest in Seattle, WA.  Hope you enjoy:


Whew!  He makes it look so easy!

And, finally, one more bit of  ‘ukulele news, concerning Bill Tapia, 102 years “young.” The young lady who produced Bill’s 100th brithday celebration concert, Alyssa Archambault, is looking for funding to help release a CD of that performance and has lots of great “incentives” for those who pledge.  The Wine Country ‘Ukulele Festival is supporting this worthwhile project and we hope you will, as well. 

One of the incentives for a pledge of $35 or more is a color facsimile of the original 1939 edition book entitled “Hawaiian Ukulele Instruction with the Island’s foremost ukulele instructor, William Tapia,” printed in 1939! 

There are only 16 days to go, so please, give her a hand. 


And that’s it for now.  I’ve been missing you all and am looking forward to seeing you at our monthly FleaFest on Sunday, July 25.

“The  Mighty Uke” (and James Hill) are coming to a town near you!  Click on the picture below to see the trailer for the film.  The schedule of showings and concerts follows.

According to James:  “I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that the release of this film is a defining event in ukulele history. The documentary offers a birds-eye view of the worldwide ukulele scene; it’s funny, sad, amazing, quirky, surprising, entertaining. .. a celebration of all things uke and a perfect way to introduce your friends and family to the wild world of ukulele.”  

What: The MIGHTY UKE Roadshow featuring a post-film performance by James Hill!
When: Monday, February 22, 2010. 7:30pm
Where: Balboa Theatre (3630 Balboa Street, San Francisco)

What: The MIGHTY UKE Roadshow featuring a post-film performance by James Hill!
When: Tuesday, February 23, 2010. Start time TBA.
Where: Rafael Film Center (1118 Fourth Street, San Rafael)

What: The MIGHTY UKE Roadshow featuring a post-film performance by James Hill!
When: Thursday, February 25, 2010. Start time TBA.
Where: Rio Theatre (1205 Soquel Avenue, Santa Cruz)

What: The MIGHTY UKE Roadshow featuring a post-film performance by James Hill!
When: Sunday, February 28, 2010. 7pm.
Where: Museum of Making Music (5790 Armada Drive, Carlsbad)

Don’t see your town listed? Click here. 

More from James: “The Mighty Uke Roadshow is a tour like no other. The Roadshow turns each screening of the film into an event: a movie, a concert and a ukulele jam. Who could ask for anything more?”

But wait!  There’s More!

Yes, it’s true. You, too, can eat like a real ‘ukulele player, thanks to Australian strummer Rose Turtle Ertler who has compiled the definitive guide to eating like an ‘ukulele player. The 60-page What Do Ukulele Players Eat? includes favourite recipes from James Hill  (Mushroom Almond Pate), Janet Klein (Garden Greenery Pasta), Ralph Shaw (Eggplant a la Veggie), Li’l Rev (Millet and Cabbag Combine) and many others. (I can’t believe Lil Rev didn’t include a recipe for One Meatball!) And it’s just $10 plus postage and handling.  Such a deal.





  The  Petalukes have spawned a new  ‘ukulele group in the area: the Healdsburg Jam. Their next meeting is Friday, Feburary 12 from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm at the Healdsburg Senior Center, 133 Matheson Street. Looks like they’re growing by leaps and bounds and will be meeting on the second and fourth Friday of every month. For more information on how to get in on the action, visit the Petalukes site and sign up. 

The Tahoe Area UkeFest, coming up March 19 – 21, has a stellar line-up: James Hill AND Jake Shimabukuro performing in twin concerts at John Askuaga’s Nugget. James will be on the 19th and Jake on the 20th.  The festival is also offering a number of enticing workshops with Jim D’Ville, Ukulele Bartt, and more.  Click here for more information. 


If you don’t want to travel that far, you can catch Jake at the Napa Valley Opera House, Friday March 19.  And James will be performing at Sonoma Academy, in Santa Rosa, the week of March 22.  We’ll get you the date for that as soon as possible.

And don’t forget our own next gathering, Sunday February 28 at Lois’ home in Napa.  You’ll have to RSVP to me get the address. 

 Thinking ahead:  We’re actively looking for sponsors and volunteers for the 2010 Wine Country ‘Ukulele Festival.  Our biggest need right now is for individuals or organizations who’d like to “adopt” one (or more) of our visiting musicians.  Let me know if you’d like to help!

Whew!  That’s it for now.  Happy Valentines Day! And remember,Victoria Vox Loves You!

Here’s a little sample of Rev’s skill and charm:

And it turns out some congratulations are in order! A brand new little Flea Jumper has joined the rank and file: Ruby Kanoelani Finkelstein, born January 24, 2010.  Way to go!

And lastly…….

Rumor has it that registration is still open for Lark Camp, one week of musical bliss in the Mendocino Woodlands. And because “Bolero at Midnight,” conducted by our very own Rebecca King, was one of the highlights of the week for me (and most everyone else) last year, I wanted to close with this other, wonderful rendition of Ravel’s Bolero:  

FYI:  Our Camps & Workshops page has been updated.  It’s not too soon to start planning for summer and beyond.  Please pay a visit.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Just a quick reminder that we will be gathering at NapAloha in St. Helena, this Sunday, November 29, for our monthly flea fest!  If you’re bringing a new song, please bring enough copies for eveyone.  And don’t forget the pupus! RSVP with Diana: 707-967-9700.

And don’t forget the Big Ukulele Event coming up December 3 hosted by Kala Brand ‘Ukuleles to benefit the Phoenix Theater in Petaluma. There will be free ‘ukulele lessons and a concert by the “Ukalaliens.”  Tickets are available online at or can be purchased in advance at Tall Toad Music in Petaluma. The fun begins at 7:00. I do believe our good friends the Petalukes are also performing.

And this just in:  An ‘ukulele showdown (of sorts) has been scheduled for the weekend of March 19-21 at John Ascuaga’s Nugget Casino in Reno/Sparks when James Hill and Jake Shimubakuro headline twin concerts in the Nugget’s Celebrity Showroom in conjunction with the Tahoe Area Uke Fest. Not sure if the two ‘ukulele superstars will be on stage toether, but at least it’s nice to see James Hill getting the billing he so deserves.  It’s kind of like Bruce Lee meets the Royal Canadian Mounties……

In the meantime, James and his partner Anne Davison just won the “Traditional Abum of the Year” award at the Canadian Folk Music Awards for their CD, True Love Don’t Weep.  Here’s what they’re saying about it: 

For starters, True Love Don’t Weep, his first full-length collaboration with cellist Anne Davison, abandons the “bet-you-didn’t-think-I-could-do-that” subtext of his earlier work to follow a muse that seems unfettered by supply and demand and uninterested in ukulele evangelicalism. Cello, banjo, bouzouki, fiddle, voices, winds, brass, bells and music boxes entwine with ukuleles of all shapes and sizes through twelve tracks that resonate with folk, old-time, gospel and blues influences. True Love Don’t Weep isn’t a campaign for the ukulele, just an offering of beautiful, sweetly sorrowful music. From the heart-rending Ev’ry Night to the cathartic Obedience Blues to the slightly demented Duke’s Alley Rag, the duo – assisted by a handful of talented friends – weaves a broad tapestry of vivid colour and emotion. Fret-burning, uptempo cuts like Ode to a Frozen Boot, Richard’s Reel, and One More Lie to Love show why Canadian Folk Music calls James “truly amazing… a serious virtuoso upon the instrument.” But it’s the meditative introduction to Sakura, Sakura, the sweet vocal harmonies of Because, and the haunting chorus of Oh! Susanna that explain the three-year gap between True Love Don’t Weep and James’ “tour de force” third album A Flying Leap. After all, it takes time to dig deeper and True Love Don’t Weep certainly comes from a deeper – often darker – place.

I can still hear that very haunting rendition of “Oh! Susanna” that James played at the first Wine Country ‘Ukulele Festival.  To hear some of the songs and order the CD directly from James you can visit his website: James Hill: Ukulele…Seriously.  Otherwise you can download the entire CD (highy recommended) or just individual songs on iTunes to the right.

And now for something entirely different, I’ve posted a new copy of “On a Coconut Island” under the Song Files.  It’s the Louis Armstrong version (you can also download it from iTunes on the right) …wonderful.


And, finally, since it is Black Friday, don’t forget to do your ‘ukulele holiday shopping soon: Send me an email if you’d like me to bring anything to Flea Jumpers on Sunday.  I can keep it a secret if you want…..


Thanks everyone who came to the fleafest at NapAloha on the 30th.  And special thanks to Steve and Diana for hosting us (again, and from here on!), Erich for offering to be our fearless leader, and Sean for making us sound good.  Among other things we chose the songs we’d like to perform at the Wine Country ‘Ukulele Festival, October 10, and worked on various arrangements. Here’s what we came up with:

  • Moonglow (b)
  • Five Foot Two (in C)
  • Hanalei Moon (in F)
  • Jamaica Farewell
  • Ukulele Lady
  • My Little Wine Rack

They’re all in the Flea Jumpers Songbook (if you’ve been keeping it up-to-date) and most of them are posted here under Song Files.  We will be rehearsing at NapAloha on Wednesdays at 6pm on September 16, 23, 30, and October 7.  Erich will be back with us at our next FleaFest on September 27. Anyone is welcome to come and play and practice with us on Wednesdays, whether or not you actually want to perform at the festival. Since our slot on the stage is only 15 minute (including getting on and off the stage) we may need to cut one or two songs.  Any other issues we can deal with on Wednesday. Hope to see you then.

Festival Registration Now Open!

For-webRegistration for the Wine Country ‘Ukulele Festival is now open and we have some nifty give-aways to encourage you to register early, including a weekly drawing for great prizes you can enjoy during your visit here. The Workshop descriptions have also been posted.  There seems to be some confusion about all this.  Basically you only need to register if you are attending any of the paid events (Judd’s Hill Hula Party, Flora Springs Lu’au, MinerFamily Sunday School, or the ‘Ukulele Film Fest) or if you want to take any of the workshops. If you just want to come out and listen to the music or visit the vendors or just come taste wine, there is no need to register. However, all of the usual tasting and tour fees at Beringer Vineyards will apply.

We will post the actual workshop schedule as we iron out a few more of the details.


New Contest!

IMG_6599_edited-2I hope some of you are inspired to enter this one! We are looking for a 30- to 60-second “commercial” that would encourage people to pack up their ‘ukuleles and walk, ride, run, swim, or fly to the Napa Valley for the 2nd annual Wine Country Ukulele Festival.  Originality and humor (in good taste) rank very highly. Clever parodies of popular and well-known songs get extra points, as does the subtle (or not-so-subtle) inclusion of MusicGuyMic who is donating the prize. Entries will be judged on originality, comments from viewers (even if the viewer is your mother), and the number of views. You can enter as many times as you like. The winner will receive a Kala KA-ST tenor ‘ukulele with a hard shell case.

ka-stThe Kala KA-ST has a solid Sitka spruce top and mahogany back and sides, giving this ‘ukulele a rich sound, great volume and tone. It also has die cast tuners, a nice binding, high gloss finish and GHS strings (though Mike will probably trick-it-out a little more.) 

It’s up to you to upload your commercial to You-Tube, then send us the link (you can leave it as a comment here on the festival website) so we know where to look for it.  Assuming it passes the first test (meaning, essentially, that it is suitable for all ages) we will then upload it to the Wine Country Uke Fest channel on You-Tube and try to help you promote it, both here and there. The deadline for posting is September 25 and the winner will be announced October 10, at the festival. (You need not be present to win.)  But, the sooner you get it done, the more opportunites you have to get it viewed.

So give it your best shot, and good luck. We can’t wait to see what you come up with.

Coming Up!

HukilauPoke, spam, hula, music, prizes, drink specials, and general merriment– Island Style……what more can you ask for?  It’s all happening this Saturday, September 12, at the Hukilau in San Francisco, 5 Masonic Avenue (SW corner of Masonic and Geary. This sounds like fun! It’s the 8th annual  Sam Choy Poke Festival “All you culinary, top chef poke masters–this is your chance to test out the next great Poke recipe  and if you have what it takes, we’ll send you to Hawai’i!  And, if you are more on the receiving end,  go ahead and sign-up for da Spam Musubi Eating Contest and see if you can dethrone da King.  Email us at spam@dahukilau – with your name, contact info, and why Spam is like manna from da gods!  For those with the necessary intestinal fortitude, we have great prizes as well.”

hawaii_smThe following week-end is jam packed.  For starters, on Friday, September 18, the Napa Valley Opera House is sponsoring Hawaiian Tropical Nights, featuring Kumu Hula Kawika Alfiche & Halau O’ Keikiali’i, Grammy-Award winning Hawaiian Slack Key Musician Cyril Pahinui, and  Napa’s own Manaleo (with Sean Allen). What a great way to visit the Hawaiian Islands in the midst of harvest!

2009AlohafestlogoThen, the following Saturday, September 19, is the Napa Valley Aloha Festival, from 10 am to 6 pm at the Napa Valley Expo, put on by the Manaleo Hawaiian Cultural Foundation. This is a free family event, they only ask that you bring non-perishable food items to donate to the Napa Valley Food Bank. There’s lots of incredible  entertainment lined up, including Cyril Pahanui, Faith Ako, and our very own Sean Allen (in Manaleo). 

cyrilpahinui_200x200Guest artist Cyril Pahanui will also be teaching two slack key guitar workshops on Sunday, September 20, at the Embassy Suites (1075 California Blvd) in Napa. The first workshop is from 11am-2pm and the second is from 3pm-6pm. The cost is  $60 per person.  For more information, call  (707)  363-1999 or email: 
Whew! Cyril is going to be one busy guy!



Ukulele Classes

Holly Rudin-Braschi is about to start teaching her 2009 Fall session at Santa Rosa Junior College on Thursday, September 10-October 15, 7:00 PM-8:45 PM, 189 Forsyth Hall, Santa Rosa Campus. I have it on very good authority that she is an excellent teacher!  To read more and to register, please log onto: https://busapp02. santarosa. edu/CommunityEdu cation/ListCours e.aspx?CourseVrs nNbr=01005904&ID=2009753&AvailToPublic= 1  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Holly at: 707-763-3863. 

Eugene UKEtoberFest 2009

ukeParade2And the Eugene UKEtoberFest 2009 is open for biz.  I went last year and had a ball (I took the train).  I also came home with a fabulous raffle prize, a brand spanking new little soprano from Spruce House ($30 worth of raffle tickets…not a bad investment).  And, as I recall, there was lots of beer! This year’s festival will once again take place on the lovely University of Oregon campus, October 16-17,  2009. Victoria Vox, will be there as will the Canote Brothers, Boulder Acoustic Society, Moe Dixon, a bunch of wonderful local folks, and the amazing king of the ukulele, Ralph Shaw.  Tickets are available online. You can also order a T-Shirt featuring  the “Ukulele Fertility Pumpkin” logo designed by cartoonist Andy Singer.  If you are comin’ in from “outta” town, Brook and Keith recommend you take a look at the accomodations page on their website. The Secret Garden B&B, the University Inn, and the Eugene Hostel all have agreed to make special deals for UKEtoberFesters (festers?). They provide lodging for all budgets from swanky to modest.

See you next Wednesday, I hope.

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