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Archives for: May 2006

Make A Wish Fund Raiser - Sacramento

A few weeks back I was contacted by Bill Robertson, producer of "Rock That Uke", who was looking for someone to play ukulele at a fund raiser for the "Make A Wish" foundation in Sacramento. I met with Bill and the promoters from Dad's Deli, played a few tunes, tipped a few brews and they asked if I was interested in playing in between sets of the regularly scheduled bands. Aside from the time I played a few tunes before my rock band took the stage, and playing one song with Bryan Tolentino, I had never played in a public setting such as this before. I agreed to give it a go and was very appreciative of the opportunity. And besides, my wife and I are big fans of "Make A Wish" foundation.

As we all know, the average person associates the ukulele with Tiny Tim, Arthur Godfrey and of course Hawaiian music in general. One of the objectives was to expose the Sacramento audience to the ukulele allowing them to see it in a different way than they may normally expect. Although the playing conditions were less than ideal I think we may have accomplished just that. The ultimate objective would be to get the word out about the ukulele and generate interest in arranging a Sacramento screening of "Rock That Uke".

This was a huge learning experience for me. I experienced first hand a situation that James Hill talked about in his workshop at the UGH "Being Performance Ready". We all know we play much better at home in our practice room with everything setup just the way we want it etc. etc. But playing in front of people can change everything. That one is not such a big deal for me since I play regularly with the classic rock band. James said to try practicing or playing in a busy/noisy place, like a subway as an example, and see if you can maintain your focus and maybe play more by feel as opposed to hearing everything you are playing. Though I could hear myself just fine the playing conditions were very similar.

I played at the front of the stage while the other band was setting up all around me. I was totally unprepared for playing under those circumstances. I found myself totally distracted at times and it was such a struggle to stay on track and in fact I lost my way more than a few times. During the workshop at UGH I thought I knew what James was talking about. Now, having experienced it in real time, I know exactly the point he was driving home. I have some work to do.

Here's a little bit of Jake's Shirley T with fadeout at the very end before I lost my way.

Ukulele Festival of Northern California

I attended the Ukulele Festival of Northern California this past weekend. Toebone and I hooked up on Saturday for the workshops and concert at DaSilva Ukulele Co. and then took in the Uke Fest in Hayward on Sunday. The weather was good but the sun was hotter than I realized. Should have brought the sun screen. I ended up getting burned pretty good.

It was great to see Tonya, Dave from Petaluma, Gary Peare of Ukulelia and Tiki King again. We missed Tom B., Andy Andrews and Kona Bob as they were in New York. Got to meet some new folks and it was a pleasure to meet Ken Potts from KP Ukulele in person. He spent a fair amount of time critiquing the mahogany tenor I made last October.

Most of my time was spent outside in the courtyard either jamming or just visiting with folks. I caught the last three performers in the auditorium including Steven Espaniola and Bryan Tolentino and the Side Order Band. The auditorium was very hot and stuffy with very little circulation. I had to go outside and get some water and fresh air and missed the last two songs, however the music was piped to the outside. Steven's voice was sounding great and Bryan and SOB backed him up. Bryan was great as usual.

It was a great ukulele weekend but the highlight for me was when, during the evening concert at DaSilva's, Bryan invited me to join him on stage to play the title track from his CD, Ka `Ukulele Lele, that I had transcribed a couple of months back. It was a very nice gesture from a very gracious person. Thank you Bryan. Here is a video of Ka `Ukulele Lele from the concert.