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!


Oxbow Public Market and Judd’s Hill Winery present the 2nd Annual

Uke-A-Palooza at Oxbow!

King Kukulele to Perform on Friday, August 10, 2012 at Oxbow Public Market in Downtown Napa

Proceeds to Benefit VOICES Napa

Oxbow Public Market, along with Judd and Holly Finkelstein of Judd’s Hill Winery present “Uke-A-Palooza at Oxbow”, a special Polynesian evening on Friday, August 10th, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. The evening includes a special appearance and performance on the Oxbow River Deck by the incomparable King Kukulele, and guests are encouraged to bring their own ukulele and perform!

That includes the Napa Valley Flea Jumpers!  So, print out a copy of “On a Coconut Island,” and practice, practice, practice.   We will meet up a little before hand to rehearse…those plans will be revealed  here:   (If you haven’t already done so, I would encourage you to join our Meet-Up Group so you can stay informed about all the local ukulele happenings.  It’ll also help us figure out how many Flea Jumpers will be there)

In addition King Kukulele, Polynesian-themed specials will be offered by Oxbow merchants, including a Napa Valley version of the classic Hawaiian “pizza” and an Ahi Poke appetizer and a Kahlua porchetta at Todd Humphries’ Kitchen Door, carnitas tacos with pineapple and hibiscus orange tea at C CASA, $5 Judd’s Hill wines by the glass at the Oxbow Wine Merchant, made-to-order coconut lemonade with a twist of pineapple at Pica Pica Bar, Mauna Kea caramel with sea salt at Anette’s Chocolates and more. Vintage beach and polynesian clothing provided by Melissa Gruenhagen of Retro Diva will be for sale, Kani Ka Pila will be on hand offering ukuleles and other merchandise for sale. Proceeds from “Uke-A-Palooza at Oxbow”, including a raffle for a professional ukulele and gig bag donated by Ohana Music and the Wine Country Ukulele Festival (Sept. 7-9, will benefit VOICES Napa, providing support services for foster youth.

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

Here’s a Flier for you to print and distribute:


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.

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!



Mark your calendars.  Our next Flea Jumper extravaganza will be, March 28, at the studio of Gordon Huether (The Hay Barn), 1821 Monticello Road, Napa, at 5pm. Click here for a map. Thanks to Eva, it looks like this will be the Flea Jumper’s new home..and what a beautiful home it is.  But, just to be on the safe side, bring a chair and a music stand if you have one.  Also, be sure to update your Flea Jumper Songbook with the songs listed in the Song Files.  If you don’t have a copy of the Flea Jumper Songbook, a copy of each song in the Song Files will at least get you off to a very good start. New songs are always welcome, but be sure to bring at least 12 copies to share. For ideas for new songs, be sure to visit Song Sources.

And don’t forget, besides making memorable music, Flea Jumpers like to eat wonderful food  and sip fabulous drinks…….so please bring enough to share…..


More Calendar Items

We have the dates for the 2010 Wine Country ‘Ukulele Festival: September 11 & 12 at Beringer Vineyard, with the fabulous luau, again, on Saturday night at Flora Springs. We’ve got lots of surprises in store and there will be a whole bunch of new things to see and try, so be sure to save the dates. If you haven’t already done so, please subscribe to the festival website to make sure you’re kept abreast of all the latest. In terms of volunteers, what we’re looking for right now are good-hearted folks who would like to share their home (or guest cottage) with one (or more) of our instructors while they’re in town.  I can’t tell you how much absolute fun it is.  Also, if you’d like to sponsor the festival by adopting your favorite uke player and bringing him or her  in for the festival, just let me know.

And, speaking of ‘ukulele festivals, there’s another one coming up in Texas.  Yep, that’s right.  It’s the Lone Star Ukulele Festival, and it looks like three days of pure ukulele bliss (April 29, 30, and May1), including a special ukulele teacher training workshop offered by James Hill on April 27 & 28, geared for anyone who wants to start and mantain a successful  ‘ukulele progam.  Be sure to check out their website for more information and giddy on up!  

No Time to Waste!

The Hawaii County Band, which is part of the Parks & Recreation Department of County of Hawaii, has just been informed that they will not be funded after June 30, 2010, thereby effectively ending a 127 year Big Island of Hawaii tradition. The Hawaii County Band was formed in 1883 during the period of the Hawaiian Monarchy and existed through the Hawaiian Republic and was incorporated into the County of Hawaii during the territorial period of Hawaii. Even if you don’t live in Hawaii, please show your support for the music & arts, the Big Island community as well as a part of history and sign this petitionBut please hurry, the County Council is meeting on the March 22, 2010 to discuss the final budget. They have the power to overturn the Mayor’s budget and fund the band.

Press here to sign the petition and help preserve this living national treasure.


Summer Plans

Be sure to check out Camps & Workshops. I’ve just added the Puget Sound Guitar Workshop and I hear it fills up quickly!  Don’t let the name fool you.  Their staff includes some of the best ‘ukulele instructors available: James Hill, Jere Canote, and Gerald Ross. Plus they have a Spring Retreat coming up, Friday April 30 to Sunday, May 2 , which might be just the ticket if you can’t get away for a full week this summer.

And if you don’t want to travel as far as Puget Sound, you should consider the California Coast Guitar Camp with two sessions: July 11 – 17 and July 18 – 24. James Hill will be the resident ‘ukulele guru in the first session and Jere Canote will take over in the second session.

If you’re a teacher, or you just can’t get enough of James Hill, please take note:  registration for the James Hill Ukulele Initiative Teacher Certification Program is now open! Due to overwhelming interest, James will be running Summer Institutes in three locations this year:Vancouver, BC (July 8-9); Toronto, ON (August 23-24); and Truro, NS (August 26-27).  Registration in each location is limited to 20 places so register early to avoid disappointment. 

And, finally, just in case you are not one of the 15 million people in the world who has NOT seen this video, enjoy. 

See you Sunday.

“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!

Looking for some holiday gift ideas? Be sure to check out the Kani Ka Pila website where I have just posted some special prices on ‘ukuleles, KaniKaPila Klips, The Tin Pan Alley Collection, some terrific children’s books from Hawai’i, and a very limited number of wine glasses with the Wine Country ‘Ukulele Festival logo on them.  Please use this link to get the special pricing:


Let me know if you want me to bring anything to the next gathering (more about that later) and avoid shipping charges.  The shipping calculations from PayPal are a little challenging, so if you have any questions, again, please let me know.

I have also just posted photos and a few new videos from the Wine Country ‘Ukulele Festival on its website.  If you missed it (or simply want to revisit it) you really should CLICK HERE to check it out.  Victoria Vox and her mouth trumpet are truly amazing.  Oh heck, here she is (if you’re reading this in an email, you’ll need to click on the picture to see the video):

But, if you want to see James Hill do Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” on the ‘ukulele (accompanied by Victoria Vox and Ralph Shaw, you will have to visit the festival website.)

By the way, please feel free to forward the videos to anyone you think would appreciate it!  The more views we can get the better.

Speaking of holiday gift giving, a CD from any one of our featured performers would go a long way toward supporting them and spreading the joy of  the ‘ukulele. (One of my favorite songs this holiday season is Victoria Vox’s “Christmas With You” from her Victoria Vox and her Jumping Flea CD.  The music lyrics, and chords are also in her Songbook.  Both are available on her website.


Ok, here it is.  The news you’ve all been waiting for.  Steve Gage and the wonderful folks at Miner Family Vineyards have offered to host us once again for our annual Holiday Hullabaloo, this Sunday, (December 13, 2009) at the winery, 7850 Silverado Trail in Oakville, starting at 5:00.  Please, print out any songs you’d like to do and bring 15 copies to share.  Last year poor Steve spent most of the evening at the copier making copies for people, let’s not make him work so hard this year. (Our Song Files page contain two collections of holiday songs for the ‘ukulele, if you’re looking for inspiration.) Everyone is welcome. It’s a great opportunity to meet and greet and make new friends. All skill levels are appreciated! And don’t forget the wonderful pupus! And, while it’s not required to RSVP, it sure makes the planning for Steve much easier if you do:

This just in!

Jake Shimabukuro will be performing at the Napa Valley Opera House on Friday, March 19, 2010.  If you have not already experienced this dynamic ‘ukulele player, you really must go (and drag a non-believer along with you…..they’ll thank you for it.) His last two performances at the Opera House sold out, so get your tickets soon. Tickets ($30/$35) go on sale to the general public on December 14 (another great gift idea). Click here for more information. 

And don’t forget, as temperatures plummet and we all start dreaming of white sandy beaches, that you can save 5% on the lowest published fares (and help the ‘Ukulele Festival earn enough miles to bring more Hawaiian talent our way) by clicking on our exclusive Hawaiian Airlines link either here or on the Hawaiian Airlines logo on the webpage.

Hope to see you this Sunday. If not, please have a safe and happy holiday.

In the meantime, here’s a little video lesson from “Ukulele Mike” to take us out: