Keeping you all updated

First, make plans now for the great Sacramento Ukulele Explosion House Concert!  Saturday evening August 2nd.  Seating is limited, so make your reservation right now by calling or emailing host Monica at 916/628-5621 or  Suggested donation is $20 (and bring some snacks and drinks to share).

Headlining will be Sandra Dolores, preceded by Dominator (with Steve Skidgel) and Dani Joy, with yours truly and his trio opening the show at 6:30 p.m.

An evening of great music!


Sandra Dolores

Dominator and Steve




Dani Joy


Ukulele Rob (with one my many fans — actually the very talented Jen Morrison, who’ll be starring in Green Valley Theatre’s upcoming production of “A Light in the Piazza”)

In other news, I love some of the comments I get at this blog.  (Sorry I can’t publish all of them, but they appear to contain hidden links to weird drugs or counterfeit designer handbags.  If those are your things, let me know and I’ll introduce you to the commenters.)  One recent comment:  “I’d like to withdraw $100.”  Uh … sorry … but no.

Finally, we’re still on for the Verte Fee Cabaret at Green Valley Theatre on July 18 and 19.  More details soon, but in the meantime, here’s what our wonderful gang of talented performers looked like after last month’s show:

cast photo

Yes, we do indeed have fun.


Some Great Kick-*** Blues For You


Almost by accident I recently “discovered” Adam Gussow, the fabulous harmonica blower, now based in Oxford, Mississippi.  (In addition to being a blues musician, he’s a PhD and a professor of English and Southern Studies at Ole’ Miss.)

Dr. Gussow wrote a wonderful book some years ago about growing up in New York, busking on the streets in NYC, and linking up with longtime blues performer Sterling Magee, “Mr. Satan,” as a successful touring duo.  The book’s entitled “Mr. Satan’s Apprentice,” and is available in new and used versions via places like Amazon.  A really fun read, but with some serious things to say about the social aspects of being a bi-racial musical act on the streets of Harlem in the 1980s.

Aside from there being some wonderful Satan & Adam recordings out there, Dr. Gussow has a few of his own available, most recently “Roosters Happy Hour,” with guitarist Alan Gross.  Check out the two-step hopper “Southern Jump” on the album.  Available via iTunes, CD Baby, etc., and through Dr. Gussow’s harmonic website.

In addition to teaching, writing, and playing the blues, Dr. Gussow has a wonderful harmonica website at  Lessons, stories, and more.

I just love discovering new things.

Two New Things For Today


First, make your plans now for a great Ukulele Explosion House Concert on Saturday evening August 2nd at a Sacramento location.  Featuring a ton of local talent.  Keep watching this website for info.


Second, I just received my copy of Kiki Ebsen’s wonderful new CD “The Scarecrow Sessions,” soon to go into general release (Amazon, CD Baby, iTunes, etc.).  It’s fantastic!  Visit for more info.

I Was There (A Peek Into History)


The other day as I put one of the US Postal Service’s Jimi Hendrix stamps on a letter, I paused for moment to consider that he’s been gone now for almost 44 years.  A lifetime.  Yet not a week goes by that I don’t hear some musical mention of him, be it one of his recordings, a performance by a tribute band, or just a lick from a rock or jazz guitarist (or even a ukulele player!) in which his influence is evident.

I only heard Hendrix live and in person once, but I’m really glad I got in at least that one show.  It was November 16, 1968, at Boston Garden.  I was a sophomore at Antioch College in Ohio, and a friend asked for company on a road trip to visit a girlfriend who lived in Boston.  So off we went in a Volkswagen beetle that was ancient even then, across the New York and Massachusetts Turnpikes (with stops at numerous Howard Johnsons, of course), arriving to find that the girlfriend had scored some Hendrix tickets for a seating area that had just been opened up in the sold-out venue.  Seats on stage, on a riser, right behind the performers!  Even better than front row!

Opening for the Jimi Hendrix Experience were The McCoys (still playing their 1965 it “Hang On Sloopy,” and featuring guitarist Rick Zehringer, who would later change his last name to Deringer and record the venerable “Rock And Roll Hoochie Koo”) and Cat Mother & The All-Night Newsboys (playing “roots” music before it had a name).  I don’t remember much about either band’s performance, but I DO remember Jimi.

Hendrix’s set was only about an hour long, but included “Fire,” “Spanish Castle Magic,” Voodoo Chile,” “Red House,” “Foxy Lady” and “Purple Haze.”  Back then Hendrix’s guitar chops just floored me.  They still do.

If you happen to have a copy of “Are You Experienced?” (whether vinyl or CD, the former being preferable) you haven’t played for a while, take it out, put in on one of those now-passe huge stereo sets, and turn it up LOUD.  See if you aren’t still floored, too.


Let’s Go Trippin’! (Autobiography Part III)

When we left off I’d just added a DeArmond pickup to my Harmony folk guitar.  Then I was invited to play in a band.  We called ourselves “The Avengers” after the popular TV show (not knowing that a group in Orange County calling themselves “The Avengers VI” were already releasing great records).  Of course, we played “Wipe-Out,” “Miserlou,” “Pipeline,” and all the great hits.  And for that, I needed “real” equipment.  I.e., Fender equipment.  So off I went to Sherman Clay in Sacramento, with money earned from a summer of hard work on the family farm, and came home with a reverb-ready kit consisting of a Fender Mustang guitar and Vibrolux amp.  (See below for photos of similar gear.  Wish I still had mine.)

Surf music enjoyed a brief time as king of the hill, somewhere between Bobby Vee’s “Take Good Care of My Baby” (1961) and the Beatles’ first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show (February 1964).  The best part about it was … no vocals!  When you’re 14 and your voice is still doing strange things, instrumental-only is a real blessing.

Then came the British Invasion, and we felt compelled to purchase a microphone and start singing.  But that’s for another story.

As the singing pop groups ascended, some folks figured that surf music was dead and buried.  But it never really died.  For proof of its durability, tune in to Luxuria internet radio ( any Saturday afternoon from 2:00 to 4:00 for Jonpaul Balak’s wonderful “Fiberglass Jungle” show.  Surf music from back then, not-so-far back then, and NOW.  Great music, and lots of fun from your host.  (Jonpaul also plays bass with the fabulous Tikiyaki Orchestra for you tiki/exotica fans.)


Fender_vibrolux_brown_1961-1963 fender-guitar-ad-1

The Reviews Are In!


Local reviewer Meg Masterson had this to say after our opening performance this past Friday:

“The Green Fairy strikes again! — Green Valley Theatre Company brings back its absinthe-soaked and debaucherous variety show, this time with a dash of tango. — Much like last time the VerteFée Cabaret hit the stage, the acts are wide-ranging. From Ukulele Rob’s charming “Tiptoe through the Tulips” to Ciara McClary’s rendition of ACDC’s “Big Balls” which had the audience in stitches, to Holly Wilson’s stellar performance of Lady Gaga’s “Manicure” with Taiko drums for backup, the cabaret has much to offer. The cast is hugely talented, and bring lots of enthusiasm to this eclectic collection of a show. — Headliner performances include Lindsay Grimes in “Just One Step” from Songs for a New World, which she totally nails. And Anita Procedure’s performance in this show was a real highlight – she had the audience absolutely howling with laughter. — The performance is guided by the fabulous Brent Randolph reprising his role as the master of ceremonies, Machiavelli Absinté. The Green Valley house band – Boo Radley and the Finch Kids, as they are known for the Cabarets – is lively and excellent, as always.  — There is only one more opportunity to catch this cabaret – tonight, May 31 at 8 p.m. However, if you must miss this one, the next (nautical-themed) cabaret is scheduled for July 18 and 19. I’ll see you there.”

Thanks, Meg!  And be sure to mark your calendar for our July performances.