KEEPING YOU IN THE LOOP

Big fun happenings are happening in my world and I want to keep YOU in the loop!

 

This Thursday, September 16, 2021, from 5:00 to 6:00pm (PST), I am the guest teacher at The Ukulele Kids Club Academy. It’s FREE and online! So all you have to do is sit your butt down and play along. I remember the first class I taught with the UKC Academy because so many of you showed up and it just felt like home.

Over the years, the CC Strummers have donated $9000 to The UKC, which delivers ukuleles to pediatric hospitals near and far. Our designated hospital is UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital. We keep them stocked with ukes and are looking forward to doing rounds with the music therapist again, playing for the kids and giving ukuleles away.

As a musician who has made a living working as a solo performer, it’s been quite a journey learning how to create ensemble arrangements that are accessible, challenging and surprising. At the same time.

Thursday we are going to take this “arranging” trip together and learn how to make a song your own.

CLICK HERE to register for the class and receive the Zoom link. I’m looking forward to seeing you!

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Like many of you, I am stepping gingerly back into the world, along with many of the other players in The CC Strummers. We are more comfortable meeting and singing outside and have landed at a location that is ready-made for a Kanikapila–music, community and FOOD.

Jackson’s Cafe is located in a business park and on Sunday it is the only business open so we have their big umbrella-decorated patio and sprawling parking lot to ourselves.

Our twice-a-month gatherings are growing and turning into this “feel good thing” that so many of us are craving in this upside-down world.

So I shared The CC Strummers’ story with a local television station in Los Angeles, Spectrum News. Kristopher Gee, one of the on-air journalists, emailed back saying his producers are excited and can he attend one of the jams?

Well let me tell you, Kristopher stayed for two hours. He interviewed just about anyone who was willing to talk on camera and took a truckload of videos.

Then he culled the whole thing down to three minutes.  That’s three minutes that will make you smile! I think our ninety-one year old Lillian gets the Oscar for her ad lib about running off with a drunken sailor during the pandemic. And then there’s my oratory about snot…

CLICK HERE to watch the video on Kristopher’s FB Page. Enjoy!
And a great big _thank you_ to Kristopher and Spectrum News!

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The CC Strummers continue to meet twice a week online for our Monday Beginners Ukulele Class and our Thursday Intermediate/Beginners Ukulele Class. Players join us from around the world. This has certainly been the silverlining of this pandemic for me. The boundaries of distance and time are increasingly irrelevant. Our classes are a refuge, a safe space, where we leave our differences behind and make music together.

CLICK HERE to learn more about these Zoom Classes.

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The next online session of my intermediate level OnGoing Ukulele Workshop & Jambegins Saturday, September 25, 2021 from 10:30am to noon (PST). We take songs and fancy them up, with chords, strums, embellishments. We learn how to improvise a solo and create a chord melody. We are swimming in the deeper waters of music . Confident beginners and intermediate players are invited to take the deep dive with us. CLICK HERE for more information.

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On a personal note, I finally finished Cardiac Rehab and am still alive. That blog is coming soon!
Thanks for being here… Take care of your precious selves and make some music!

“Uke” Can Change the World

My ukulele group, The CC Strummers, enjoyed an extra special treat on Monday.  And I mean extra special!  “Jumpin'” Jim Beloff, one the of seminal figures in the modern-day renaissance that is “ukulele,” visited the Culver City Senior Center for a teach-a-thon, storytelling and kanikapila (which means we all get to sing and play along).

Years ago, Jim and his wife Liz sensed something special about this humble little instrument, trusted their instincts and let that intuition guide them forward.  So what do we have today?  Their fabulous music books, Fluke & Flea Ukuleles and a world-wide presence, teaching and spreading ‘dem good ukulele vibes from “Down Under” to “Up Over.”

The ukulele has swept them into so many different circles of people.  They have connected with hundreds of ukulele groups as well as with the iconic figures in music who happen to embrace the ukulele too.  The list is long and Jim shares a couple stories with us.  This one especially resonates with me:

Enter Bette Midler.  Although she was born and raised in O’ahu, she never learned to play the ukulele or any instrument for that matter.  She began her career as the “girl singer” and of course grew into the extraordinary entertainer we know today.  But since she could not accompany herself, she is dependent on other musicians to play for her as she performs.

She is already an icon, a star when she contacts Jim to give her lessons on the ukulele.  He doesn’t give private lessons but laughs and says to us “when Bette Midler calls, you say YES.”

This woman is such a pro and knows that what “looks easy” on stage actually takes a lot of work and she is willing and ready to put in the time and effort to learn a few chords and strums on the uke.  By the third lesson, she excitedly brings Jim into her house, sits him down across from her and she sings AND plays the Beatle song “With A Little Help From My Friends.”

As Jim describes this sunshine moment he tells us that he sees that look in her face that he has seen a thousand times.  It happens when a person picks up the uke, strums and sings a song, at the same time, for the first time.  Ever.

Whether we are a Bette Midler or not.  It doesn’t matter.  The feeling and the joy of it all are the same.  May we never lose that thrill and wonder, no matter what that first time is…