Wine Country Ukulele Festival

The lights go down and the curtain goes up as the the Flea by Night Band launches into a toe-tapping rendition of Fats Waller’s “Yacht Club Swing.” Everyone in the audience is moving and grooving and saying “Wow!” But you’re not there!

Don’t worry. We still have tickets available. But, this could be your last chance to purchase one of the coveted VIP tickets to the hottest show on the entire ukulele circuit: “Radio WCUF: Live from the Napa Valley Opera House,”  Friday, September 7, with a whole cast of characters that will tickle your funny bone and have you wanting to leap out of your seat and start dancing in the aisles!

It’s the kick-off event to the Wine Country Ukulele Festival, Sept. 7, 8, & 9, and you don’t want to miss it!

In just two days the VIP tickets will be released to folks in the general wine tasting public, who have been clamoring to get their hands on them so they attend the pre-show reception at Back Room Wines and sip on wines by Guilliams Family Vineyards and 94574; nibble on tasty treats by Redwood Hill Farms, Gary & Kit’s, Coonrad’s, and From Napa; fondle the fabulous ukuleles of Mya-Moe–all the while listening to the silky tones (up close and personal) of Sarah Maisel and her ‘ukulele. There are only a limited number of VIP tickets left and once they’re gone………Oh well.

But there’s still time. You can purchase your tickets online through PayPal. (The price that appears in your shopping cart includes the $3 historic preservation fee and a minimum “convenience” fee.) All tickets will be available at “Will Call.”

 You can also purchase premium and regular tickets directly from the Napa Valley Opera House, but you can only get the VIP tickets through the links above.

Still undecided?  Here’s a sneak preview of the Yacht Club Swing!

Hope to see you there!


Just came across this little Swing Ukulele tutorial by Gerald Ross.  It is excellent…especially the tip on how to make a barre chord!  Gerald has taught at the Wine Country Ukulele Festival the last two years and will be back with us again this year (September 7, 8, 9).  He is also one of the featured instructors at the West Coast Ukulele Retreat at Asilomar May 16 – 20.  If you can learn this much in just an 8-minute tutorial, imagine what you might pick-up after spending 3 full days with Gerald and the other instructors we have lined up.  In any case….enjoy.

Don’t forget, we have an incomparable meeting of the ukuleles coming up this Sunday (July 31) with Jim D’Ville, who will be teaching his very popular and informative Play Ukulele by Ear workshop,suitable for all skill levels (and actually all instruments.)   This is a skill we should all try  to develop and the workshop will be in place of our regular monthly meeting, but we’ll still meet at 5 pm at studio of  Gunther Huether (The Hay Barn) in Napa, at 1821 Monticello Road. Click here for a map.

The cost of the workshop is $20 (cheap, cheap, cheap) and don’t forget the beverages and pupus!  If you’re coming, please RSVP by sending a message via  yahoo groups: (Incidentally, if you haven’t yet become a member of the Flea Jumper Yahoo Groups, this would be a good time to do so if you want to be kept up to speed on monthly meetings and other flea jumpers happenings.)

Jim D’Ville also publishes a very informative weblog, packed with great musical information and ideas for familar songs you can learn to play by ear. I highly recommend you subscribe to it. 


James Hill & Friends

Friday, Sept, 9, 2011   8 pm

Tickets are on sale now at the Napa Valley Opera House for the ukulele concert of the year with James Hill and Anne Davison, Lil Rev, Aaron Keim, and Gerald Ross.  All incomparable musicians!

$25, $35, and $50

($50 ticket  includes preferred seating and a pre-concert reception in the Cafe Theater at the Opera House (6:30 – 7:30)

This is the kick-off to the Wine Country ‘Ukulele Festival.  You don’t want to miss it!




 Oxbow Public Market and Judd’s Hill Winery present

Uke-A-Palooza at Oxbow

King Kukulele to Perform on Friday, August 12, 2011, Oxbow Public Market in Downtown Napa

Proceeds to Benefit the Napa Valley Youth Symphony

Judd and Holly Finkelstein of Judd’s Hill Winery, along with Oxbow Public Market present “Uke-A-Palooza at Oxbow”, a special polynesian evening on Friday, August 12th, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the popular public market in downtown, Napa, CA. The evening includes a special appearance and performance on the Oxbow River Deck by the incomparable King Kukulele, polynesian themed specials offered by Oxbow merchants, a raffle for a performance quality ukulele provided by the Wine Country ‘Ukelele Festival, vintage beach and polynesian clothing for sale, and other exciting surprises during this inaugural polynesian evening event at Oxbow Public Market. Proceeds from “Uke-A-Palooza at Oxbow” will benefit the Napa Valley Youth Symphony and their upcoming trip to eastern Europe in 2012.

Admission to the family-friendly “Uke-A-Palooza at Oxbow” is FREE. For more information or to learn more about Oxbow Public Market, please visit

But wait!  There’s more! 

(But Shhhhhhhhhh!  It’s a secret!)

There will also be an ukulele flash mob as part of the festivities and we want YOU to be part of it. If you’re not quite sure what a flash mob is, take a peek:

Stay tuned,  I’ll post the song we’ll be doing and the key as soon as I hear from “The King.”  In the meantime, Save the Date!

Jim D’Ville is Coming to Town!

Jim D’Ville will be joining us at our next monthly flea fest (July 31) to teach his extremely popular “Play by Ear” workshop!  Jim is one of the most highly regarded instructors at both the Wine Country ‘Ukulele Festival and the West Coast ‘Ukulele Retreat–a powerhouse of information and technique. So, if you’re on the fence about coming this month, jump off and join us.  This will be fun and informative, and it’s appropriate for ALL skill levels.  And, he is doing this, especially for us, for the super low price of just $20!!!  You can’t beat that.

We’ll be  meeting at the same time (5:00 pm) and place (Gordon Huether Studio) and follow-up the workshop with a short sing-along to practice all our new play-by-ear skills.

Click here to download the Play By Ear Flyer and distribute.  It would be great if we could get a big turn out for this special meeting.  (And, yes, there will be pupus.)

Festival Registration is now open!

We have some great workshops lined up, again, this year at the Wine Country Ukulele Festival, and to enhance the experience for everyone, we will be limiting enrollment.  So, if there are any workshops you are particularly keen on taking, be sure to register early. As a word of warning, Gerald Ross’ and Jim D’Ville’s workshops are filling quickly. 

Festival Volunteers

Calling all volunteers!  We will be needing help again before, during, and after the festival. If you’d like to help out please come to the meeting on July 31 at 4:00, just before the workshop with Jim. I’ll have a sign-up list and we’ll be able to talk about what needs to happen to make things run as smoothly as possible.  It’s hard work, but it must be fun! Some of you just keep on coming back!  And, we simply couldn’t do it without your help and support.

If anyone would like to get a jump on volunteering, I could use some help right away with securing advertisers for the festival program. (See below for more details.)

Advertisers Needed

We are going big time this year and are printing a festival program.  It’s looking like it will be about 20 (full-color) pages long with lots of great articles.  But, we need advertisers to make it happen.  If you know of anyone who might like to take out an ad in the program, please download the Sample Program & Insertion Order, print it out, and distribute it freely. Anyone is fair game: doctors, lawyers, real estate agents, wineries, restaurants, caterers, retail stores, music instructors,  music stores, and ukulele groups. You can even do a shout-out to your favorite ‘ukulele player! I’m sure you’ll think of more. We’ll be printing 500 copies at the very least.  The deadline is July 29, so we don’t have a lot of time. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.


James Hill at the Napa Valley Opera House

The not-to-be-missed ‘ukulele concert of the year (and opening celebration of the Wine Country ‘Ukulele Festival) will be at the Napa Valley Opera House on Friday, Sept. 9, featuring James Hill, Anne Davison, Aaron Keim, Gerlad Ross, and Lil Rev.  If you missed last year’s concert with James Hill & Friends, I’m sorry.  If you didn’t miss it, you can be rest assured that James and the gang will have a whole new bag of tricks up their sleeve.  Tickets go on sale through the Opera House on July 14 and are $25, $35, and $50.  (You can save some bucks on your ticket by purchasing them in person at the opera house box office, Monday through Friday from 10-5, Saturday from noon to 4, and 60 minutes before each show.) The $50 tickets get you VIP treatment, with preferred seating and an invitation to the pre-concert reception with food and wine from some of the Napa Valley’s finest purveyers. 


And finally….

Jake Shimabukuro will be playing at the Napa Valley Opera House this Wednesday night, July 13, and I understand that there are still tickets available.  This is another must-see ‘ukulele performer, if you haven’t seen him already.

That’s it for now.  Hope to see you on the 31st!



We have a date for the 2011 Wine Country ‘Ukulele Festival: September 10 & 11 at the Upper Valley Campus of the Napa Valley College, in St. Helena. We’ll be posting updates on the festival webpage as they become available. Be sure you’re subscribed to that to stay in the loop!

We’re also in the process of planning the festival’s opening night (Friday, Sept. 9) celebration at the Napa Valley Opera House.  This year it will include a VIP reception at the Opera House before the concert.  We are currently looking for wineries, caterers, and/or restaurants who might be interested in joining us that evening as special event sponsors.  If you fall within that category, please let me know. Basically it would involve pouring your wine at the event or offering some nibbles.  Besides the exposure (including a link on the festival website) we will have other relevant perks available for our sponsors.  So please, let me know……

I’m also looking for volunteers to help out with the festival both before and during the festival. So, if you have a hankering to help, let me know.

If you missed the first, ever West Coast Ukulele Retreat at Asilomar on the Monterey Peninsula, I am sorry.  It was, by all accounts, a total blast.  We will be doing it again next year, so mark your calendars: May 16 – 20, 2012 and be sure to subscribe to that weblog to stay in that loop. 

Here’s a little teaser from this year’s retreat:


And don’t forget, Napa Valley Flea Jumpers meet at 5:00 pm, the last Sunday of the month (that would be today), at the Gordon Huether Studio in Napa. To stay in that loop, be sure to sign up in Yahoo Groups.

That’s it for now.  See you soon.

Thank-you, all you wonderful Flea Jumpers, for your help and support in putting together the most successful Wine Country Ukulele Festival ever!  You opened your hearts and homes to visiting performers and ukulele digintaries, you stuffed and organized registration packets, you showed up early to wipe down tables and chairs and greet our visitors with courtesy and charm, you monitored workshops, you sold merchandise and raffle tickets and helped people register for workshops, you emptied trash, you helped direct parking, you answered numerous questions, you made and hung signs, you set up and took down canopies and moved countless tables and chairs from place to place, you made personal donations of ukuleles to Andy Andrews’ program in Hawaii, you ate ice cream (thanks to Curtis), and so much more.  And you did it all with a smile!  Thank-you so very much!

In case you missed it, here is another little scene from the day:

Flea Jumpers this Sunday

OK. It’s that time again: Flea Jumpers this Sunday, September 26. But we’re going to shake it up a bit. It is also happens to be the day of “The Mighty Uke” screening at the Castro Theater in San Francisco and the attempt to break the Guinness Book of World Records.

So, instead of  getting together at the Gordon Heuther Studio in Napa, we’re having a FIELD TRIP to the Castro Theater to watch the “Mighty Uke” in San Francisco and join the world’s biggest gathering of ukuleles for a strum-along.

Click here for directions to the Castro Theater.  BART (wherever you can catch it) looks like a great option, as parking near the theater is pretty sparse.  Show starts at 3:00.

If you would like to meet at the Gordon Heuther Studio (1821 Monticello Road) at noon and carpool to the city together, please contact Eva at and let her know BEFORE Sunday morning.

Hope you all can make it. This should be just plain fun!

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.

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