Calling all ukesters:

We (and all aspiring ukulele players have been invited by KALA ukuleles to join the Kala Band (sans marching) for Petaluma’s Butter and Egg Days parade on Saturday,  April 28. This looks like a really fun time, plus Kala will provide T-shirts to all ukulele-playing participants.

Just to make sure we don’t embarrass ourselves too much,  they are asking that folks who want to participate attend a rehearsal at 5:30 p.m. on  Thursday, April 26 at Kala’s new offices at 1105 Industrial Ave. , Suite 101, in Petaluma. A head count is also in order for planning purposes, so if you could call (707) 775 4073   Ext. 2818  to RSVP I know it would be appreciated.

If you can’t make it to the rehearsal but still want to participate, I’m sure you won’t be turned away.  Here are the pieces you’ll be playing at the parade so you can practice ahead of time.

Kala Parade Medley

I’ve Been Working on the Railroad

This is a great opportunity to meet fellow uke-players, practice playing in public,  and have some fun on what promises to be a bright and sunny day.  Hope to see you there.


Thanks everyone who came to Lois’  last month.  That’s one of the biggest turn-outs we seen in a while and it was great to see so many new faces!  Hope to see you again.

There’s a number of announcements about upcoming events…but here’s the one that’s the most fun!

What do Seinfeld and Camp Oo-Koo-Lay-Lay have in common?

Heidi Swedberg!

You may know her as “Susan,”  George Costanza’s ill-fated, envelope-licking fiancée on Seinfeld:

But we know her as a delightful ukulele instructor and entertainer, a perfect addition to the staff of Camp-Oo-Koo-Lay-Lay!

We’ll be posting more about Heidi and what she plans to bring to Camp Oo-Koo-Lay-Layshortly, along with news about some other guest instructors who will be joining us.  In the meantime, registration is still open and we hope you’ll be joining us. It’s going to be great!

And, just in case you’re still in the dark about Heidi Swedberg, here’s a short clip (before “Susan” dies from licking the enevlopes for the wedding invitations):

On a different note, Aloha Music Camp, July 1 – 7, 2012, has just announced that slack key virtuoso (and amazingly nice guy) Jeff Petersen has joined the teaching staff for this summer.  (Even if you just sit and listen….you’ll be entranced.) As you may recall, it was Aloha Music Camp that gave me my bump-up in all things ukulele and has served, in many ways, as a model for the West Coast Ukulele Retreat.  In addition to Slack Key guitar and ukulele, there are lessons in hula, Hawaiian language, ole, and lap steel guitar.  You can even build you own ukulele under the excellent and watchful tutelege of master luthier, Dennis Lake. I’ve been to Aloha Music Camp three times and have loved every minute of it! If you ever want to do something really special for yourself….this would be it!

 That’s it for now.  As far as I know we’ll be back at the Haybarn on the 29th. 

See you next time!

We will NOT be meeting at the Gordon Huether Hay Barn this month.  Instead we will be meeting at Lois’ home in Napa.  If you need the address, please send me your name and email address by writing a comment below.  I will not post it, but will use it to send you an email with the address for this month’s gathering.

5pm March 25th, 2012

Bring your ukes, friends, any new songs and pupus/wine to share.

Joe & Kristen Souza from Kanile’a ‘Ukulele will be at Aloha Warehouse on Saturday March 17th.  Joe will talk about how Kanile’a builds their ukuleles from selecting the finest woods to the finished product. I understand Joe will also be performing (he is a total hoot!) along with Steven Espaniola(another fabulous local guy). Kani’lea makes some stunning ‘ukuleles and this would be a great opportunity to find out what it takes and what you might look for when you’re ready to move up. Plus…there’s the entertainment and it’s FREE! Please RSVP the Aloha Warehouse due to limited seating.

1731 Buchanan Street, San Francisco, CA 94115
Also, last call before the increase in registration fees on Friday for the West Coast Ukulele Retreat.  If you’re serious about improving your playing, there’s no better way than total immersion with some of the country’s finest instructors. Plus, we have a whole lotta’ fun.

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.

Thanks everyone for hanging in there with me at last month’s Flea Fest, while we tried “Makin Whoopie.”  I think we did pretty darn well. I changed it into a format that might be easier to read and added the second half of the lyrics, which some of you might find amusing.  Others not so…….I’ve also added it to our songlist.

There’s also a few video links down at the bottom of this post,  if you’d like to see how it has been “performed” over the years by folks as diverse as Eddie Cantor, Michelle Pfieffer, Diana Krall, Sir Elton John, and Elvis Costello. 

Just got back from the Gorge Uke Fest and had a chance to talk to a couple of pros about uke strings for banjo ukes.  At our last Flea Fest one  of  our Flea Jumpers  was inquiring about what were the best strings to use on a banjo uke.  So, while I was at the Gorge Uke Fest last wekend I asked a couple of the pros.  I wish I had some definitive news, but I asked two different people and got two entirely different answers!

Ralph Shaw (banjo uke player extraordinaire) likes the sound and tone he gets on his banjo uke with nylon strings. If you’re not familiar with Ralph’s portrayal of English super-star (and banjo-uke player) George Formby, you might enjoy this little snip:

I also asked Gordon Mayer, luthier extraordinaire of Mya-Moe ukes (and someone who has researched strings exhaustively),  and he prefers the sound of  fluorocarbon strings.  So there you have it. 

Nylon strings for ukuleles are pretty easy to come by.  Hilo is a popular brand. Fluorocarbon strings are also becoming easier and easier to find and are made by Worth,  DaKine Line, and a few others.  As most of know, the DaKine Line strings are made by my son Taylor, who will be heading off to college in a year and a half  (can you believe it?) and would love to have your business!

Speaking of banjo ukes….I just got one to play around with and am having nothing but fun with it. It’s definitely a smile-maker….and loud. 

I hope to post more about some of the great ukes I saw at the NAMM show in January, but wanted to alert you in the meantime to the March Special on BugsGear ukes being offered by Kani Ka Pila.  These are definitely beginner ukes and can’t compare to a fine, hand-crafted ukulele.  But, if you have  a very young player in mind and are looking for something to put in their Easter basket (besides candy) you might like to consider one of these very racey little cut-aways….


Kani Ka Pila’s March Special includes one of these delighful little ukes, re-strung with DaKine Line fluorocarbon strings (what a difference a string makes), and Ralph Shaw’s The Complete Ukulele Course for Kids! DVD for just $39.95 (a $71.95 value)!  Visit the website  for more information and while there you might want to subscribe so that you’ll be notified whenever we run these specials.

Hope to see you at our monthly gathering on the 25th!


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.