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!


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!



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.

With all the announcements generated this week-end, and the growing list of Flea Jumpers to send information to, I thought this might be a more efficient way to communicate.  I’m new to this, so please bear with me as I get things sorted out. I’ll try to maintain a calendar of uke-related events and see what other tools might be available. If this doesn’t work, we can try creating a Yahoo Group.  Let me know what you think about this new format. Here goes:

Our kind of guy!

Our kind of guy!

If you’re interested in going to the Bob Brozman Workshop in Santa Cruz on April 4, you need to get your application in right away.  They will be opening up a Sunday workshop, if there’s demand, but I will driving down on Saturday for those who want to carpool. To guarantee your reservation, please send payment (check or money order) in advance (per person: $65 for the 2-5pm workshop — $80 for the 2-5pm workshop plus the advanced session, 5-6pm) to:  Bob Brozman, P. O. Box 1181, Ben Lomond, CA  95005. Checks and money orders made out to Bob Brozman are best (they do not accept credit cards). Upon receipt of the registration fee, they will send complete info about the workshop location, plus directions and everything you need to arrive. Be sure to include your email address or email Haley:  I saw Bob at the NAMM Show in Anaheim.  He is amazing! For more info:   Here’s more:

• This will be a very hands-on your uke workshop, with lots of playing! •

The workshop will be geared for beginning/intermediate, intermediate players

If you can change between basic ukulele chords, and keep basic time, you will be very comfortable in this workshop

(There will also be an additional one-hour session immediately following for more advanced players)

The Workshop will Teach
• One finger strums • Two finger strums • Three finger triplets and strums •
• Full five finger strum techniques • Picking individual strings to enhance melodies •
• Quick chord change methods?• Learning the simple relationships between chord shapes •
• Chord inversions up the neck • Chord melody within chords • Chord melody using inversions •
• Classic Mainland Jazz & Popular Tunes of the 1920s and 1930s?•
• Hawaiian Tunes • Blues • Swing • Calypso! •


gabby_flyer3Here’s a slightly different take on the ‘ukulele for those of you looking for something else to do on a slow Wednesday evening in Cotati, Ukulele Gone Wild! at Zone Music .  Mike Upton from Kala ‘Ukuleles will be at Zone Music on March 18  to guide you on a tour of the different ukulele types, woods, and tunings and he will be performing with his band! (I didn’t know he had one.) Mike is the fellow that brought us the pineapple, kiwi, and watermelon ‘ukuleles we gave away at the Wine Country Ukulele Festival last year (as well as the lovely spalted maple, cut-away tenor). He tells me he is working on a grape `ukulele for us …. I’m hoping it’s ready in time for the festival in September! Gabby La La (and her new band) and  Rose Harting  (with Chris Vibberts) will also be performing.  “These talented North Bay girls are the fresh new wave of the ukulele tsunami.”  Tsunami? 

Zone Music is at 7884 Old Redwood Highway in Cotati.  Directions are on their website:


ukuleleslamletter Just to make sure you don’t miss next month’s `Ukulele Slam n’ Jam, hosted by our own very multi-talented Erich Sylvester, mark your calendar for April 4.  Erich bills himself as “a guy who sings with a uke” and is in a band called the Faux Hawaiians.  This is an ongoing, monthly event held the first Saturday of the month from 7pm to 9pm at the Café International in San Francisco, at 508 Haight St. ( near the corner of Fillmore).   It sounds like they are still developing a format and improvising depending on who shows up, which means it can turn into anything you want it to: song circle,  jam session, or open mike.  What a great opportunity for all of us, but it needs our support.  Let me know if anyone is interested in organizing a carpool to this event. 

The Café International serves beer & wine, coffees & teas, sandwiches, soups, middle eastern foods, and desserts.  Cash only; no checks or credit cards.  Please don’t call the café about the Uke Slam;  contact Erich directly:  or  415-359-9826.


ukulele_lg1 Here’s a reminder about the Wine Country `Ukulele Festival Logo Contest: The deadline is for submissions is April 28 and first prize is a beautiful, all koa, gloss finish, soprano `ukulele, with a sound hole rosette, (suggested retail  $489) generously donated to us by Louis Wu of Ohana ‘Ukuleles There’s really no criteria for the design, except that we would like to emphasize the “wine country” aspect of our ‘ukulele festival and would naturally prefer something as colorful and engaging as the image we used last year, or even incorporating last year’s image.  (We could also use a theme song if anyone wants to work around “I wanta go back to my little grass shack in Napa Valley.” ) The winning design would become the property of the Wine Country ‘Ukulele Festival; we would be using it in all of our advertising and promotion regarding the festival as well as on posters, T-shirts, etc. We’re happy to give you credit for the image and a link to your website, if appropriate.

 The image should be submitted to me ( as a jpeg or pdf with the option of enlarging it successfully to 12″ by 18″. Use “WCUF Logo Contest” in the subject line.  Give it your best shot!
The dates for the festival are September 11 – 13.  I’m still working out a few details and will keep you posted.
Cheers, Elaine