Happy New Year!

Hi everyone!  Looks as if I let this blog sit in the deep freeze for quite a while.  Hoping that 2018 is a year that I bring it back to life, with a lot more regularity.

2017’s highlights included performances with the VerteFe’e Cabaret at Green Valley Theatre; a week in Clarksdale Mississippi at Jon Gindick’s Harmonica Jam Camp; and various solo and group performances around town.  (Including Bob Herron’s annual 1920’s-themed New Year’s Eve party, held this year at Green Valley.  (Thanks to Mark Chu-Lin for the great photo, above.)

Another highlight of the year was being invited to join a 20-voice choral group, the “Celebration Singers,” at St. John’s Lutheran Church here in Sacramento.  We sing at various services from time to time, and I’ll try to get word out ahead of time each time we will be contributing to the worship service.  All are welcome at St. John’s, and “all” truly means ALL.  Even if your religious or spiritual background isn’t Protestant Christian, our Director somehow magically gets sounds out of us that will take your heart to that place where earthly words can’t describe.  (In other words, even if the prayers and preaching don’t inspire you, you’re more than welcome to come for the music and stay for the coffee and cookies.)

2017 also marked my taking up one more new instrument:  The four-string plectrum banjo.  I’ve always loved the instrument, and for the inspiration to take it up have to thank folks like VerteFe’e Cabaret bandmate Dean Chance (bass and guitar, who one night at the theatre pointed to my banjo uke and inquired “why don’t you get one of those REAL jazz banjos?”) and my friend and touring banjo ace Katie Cavera of Los Angeles.  I’ve  been taking lessons from Sacramento-based Bill Dendle, one of the nation’s top jazz banjo performers.  The best thing about being a beginner on an instrument is that — at least in the beginning — progress is really obvious.  As from “awful” to “not really THAT awful” in a matter of only months.

So what’s ahead for 2018?  At Green Valley we’re all excited about getting into the new and larger (and better-wired and better-plumbed) new facility in West Sacramento.  Watch this page for updates.  I’m already signed up for the 10th Annual Reno Ukulele Festival, and hope I get a chance to perform there once again on the Marketplace Stage.  (The first of what is now the Reno Fest, then called the Tahoe Area Ukulele Festival, and held in Minden Nevada, was my very first ukulele festival, and was the start of a whole lot of wonderful things.)  More learning on the harmonica and plectrum banjo (including some workshops I’ve signed up for at Dave Barrett’s School of the Blues in San Jose).  And more fun singing and playing uke.

Hope 2018 gets off to a great start for all of you!

We have news!

It’s been a long, long time since I posted something on this blog.  It seems that I do a lot more music and theater business on Facebook these days, so I hope those of you who regularly check this website are also Facebook Friends and are up-to-date on my doings.  If not, some highlights:

It has been a great privilege from time to time to appear in the Green Valley Theatre’s VerteFe’e Cabaret shows with the amazingly talented Ariel Ryan & Victoria Timoteo, those “All Wear Bowlers” folks.  Now they’ve got their own show at Green Valley!  “Kitty, Circle, and the Cirque d’Illusion,” opening this coming Saturday night, July 1st.  Running only through July 23rd, so you’ll want to get your tickets early at www.greenvalleytheatre.com.  This is going to be an amazing show.  Hope to see you there.

And speaking of the Cabaret, the next one will be Friday and Saturday nights July 28 and 29.  This time, the VerteFe’e Cabaret “Hits The Open Road.”  Look for tickets soon, again at www.greenvalleytheatre.com, as these shows have a habit of selling out completely.  As of this writing, it’s not known whether or not Ukulele Rob will be part of the show (pending calendar issues), but most of your VerteFe’e Cabaret favorites will be there, so don’t miss out.

And finally, being a tad behind schedule maintaining this blog, I missed this year’s observation of the birthdate of Cliff “Ukulele Ike” Edwards.  Born June 14, 1895 in Hannibal MO.  Happy birthday Ike!

 

Calling all Blue Devils, Class of 1967

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Did you graduate from Davis (California) Senior High School in 1967?  Our 50-year reunion is coming up, Saturday, October 7, 2017.  If you’re interested, post a comment and I’ll make sure you find our Reunion Facebook Group page!

It’s Been a While!

But it isn’t as though nothing’s been going on.  Lots of traveling, including the final two games of the Dodgers’ home season, with plenty of tributes to Vin Scully as he retired after 67 seasons (!).  (Hope he enjoys his retirement as much I’ve been enjoying mine.)

The next time the Green Valley Theatre presents one of its VerteFe’e Cabaret Shows, we may be in a new venue!  Watch this page (or www.greenvalleytheatre.com) for updates.  Word has it that the crew will be going “Back to Sea.”  Maybe I’ll do this great number from 1914:

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Ukulele Rob Retires!

At the end of this month I’ll be retiring from my “day gig” of these past 41 years.  Which won’t really change anything here at ukulelerob.com, but may mean you’ll see more of stuff like this:

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And I’ll have time to see more of stuff like this:

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And this:

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Ukulele Rob’s Letter to Donald Trump

Dear Mr. Trump,

It would appear from the news that – as are all of us — you are quite upset about the horrific murders this past Saturday night at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida.  I confess that I’m a bit of a skeptic, but please don’t take it personally, as I’m skeptical about nearly everything all political candidates say.  Even though I’m not from Missouri, I’m still a “show me” type of guy.  So if you want to show me that you are truly concerned about this terrible event, here are some things you can do:

Promise that if elected President you will seek out and nominate for appointment to the federal courts, including the Supreme Court, judges and justices who will respect the legal precedents for the important Supreme Court-confirmed Constitutional right of Americans to marry the individual of their choice, regardless of gender;

Promise that if inaugurated, the first legislation you will send to Congress will be amendments to our federal civil rights, contracting, and program administration laws that will prohibit discrimination based upon gender or sexual orientation, the way that we are already protected against discrimination based on race, religion and national origin;

Promise that as President you will do all that is within your federal authority to convince states and local governments to rescind laws and regulations that not only permit businesses to discriminate against people based solely on their sexual orientation, but prohibit cities and counties from enacting their own laws to protect people against discrimination;

Promise that as President you will do everything you can to help gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender refugees who are fleeing discrimination, persecution, and even threats of torture and death, find a new home in the United States where they may live in safety and freely contribute to making ours a great country; and,

Strongly disavow support from hate groups like the Family Research Council and from phony preachers of all claimed religious stripes who use their pulpits to spew vile hatred against our LGBT communities, families and friends;

I’m looking forward to your taking a position of leadership on these important matters.

Thank you,

-Ukulele Rob

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60 Years of Ukulele!

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After my Mom died in 2014, one of our daughters found this great photo in one of Mom’s scrapbooks.  It was taken in June 1956 at our rural home in Southern California.  I’m playing a “Mauna Loa,” made in the USA by B.W. Molded Plastics, of Pasadena.  I fondly remember the uke, and that it was given to me by our wonderful Aunt Nini (who died in 2013).  It’s likely that I’d received it as a gift for my 7th birthday, just a few weeks before.  Within a few years I’d switched to a Sears-Roebuck Harmony acoustic guitar and also taken up the cello, later adding electric jazz and rock guitar, bass, and other instruments.  It wasn’t until 2007 that I returned to the ukulele as a primary instrument (and by then, sadly, the Mauna Loa was long gone – but hey, I now have one of Kala’s cool “Waterman” plastic ukes!).  With this photo as evidence, in in particular confirmation that even at age 7 I was paying attention to the importance of costuming as part of musical performance, I can honestly say that 2016 is indeed the 60th Anniversary of Ukulele Rob!