Tiki Lives!

I’ve always felt that nothing goes better with a ukulele than a tropical drink (you know, the kind with seven different types of rum, with a little umbrella), preferably in a traditional tiki bar.

I learned a bit more about tiki when recently I picked up a used copy of James Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific, the collection of stories on which the Broadway musical South Pacific was based, and a copy of Sven Kirsten’s new opus, Tiki Pop.



Between the two I gained some insight into just what it was that drew our parents to those places in the 1950s.

8587874922_cc8e9acb59 don-the-beachcomber oldParty

For a variety of reasons tiki bars began to die out in the 1970s.  Some of the great ones live only in memory.  Like Sacramento’s iconic Zombie Hut, which opened in 1945, and closed for good in 1990.

zombie hut

But guess what?  Tiki has come back!  And it’s alive and kicking in the San Francisco Bay area.  Just check out the opportunities at http://www.sfgate.com/food/slideshow/Bay-Area-Tiki-bars-91992.php

Happy fruity rum drinks to everyone!

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Couldn’t resist that title, after learning about uke whiz Jame Hill’s new look.





I think James is looking SHARP.  How ’bout your thoughts?

Lots Of Fun Uke Fests Coming Up … And I Can’t Be There!

I’ve written before about Doug Reynolds and Rich Dann, the PlayUke LLC guys who put on each year’s Reno Uke Fest.  But Reno isn’t all they do, and coming up are a couple of PlayUke events that promise to be an absolute ton of fun.  Just one problem:  I have some calendar conflicts (including some actual gigs) that will prevent my attending ANY of them.

All of the info’s at www.playuke.net.  First up is a first-time event at Kings Beach, on the north shore of beautiful Lake Tahoe, September 13.  Michael Powers, the great jazz player, will be coming down from Seattle to teach and perform.  After that it’s the second Old West Uke Train, October 18-19, much of which is aboard the historic Virginia & Truckee Rail Road in Nevada’s Carson Valley.  I attended last year’s first one, and had an absolutely wonderful time.  (And maybe this time Doug will include in the songbook Ian & Sylvia’s 1965 hit, “Darcy Farrow”; e.g., “where the Walker runs down to the Carson Valley plain, there lived a maiden, Darcy Farrow was her name …”  The song was on the 1967 set list for the folk group “The Bunch,” in which I played standup bass, and it still gives me the chills.  Among the performers and teachers this year will be Aaron & Nicole Keim [“The Quiet American”], who sing wonderful folk and Americana tunes, and probably know this one, too.)


Then October 30-November 3 it’s another California Ukulele Academy in the San Gabriel Mountains of Southern California.  Then Palm Springs in February (I’ll be there).  And then … RENO again!

Hope you get to one of these fun events.

Let’s Go Running! (Autobiography, Part IV)

In the continuing autobiographical saga, I’m sometimes asked what I do for fun beside play music.  I’ve been thinking of late how long I’ve been running.  It started with my high school cross-country team (Davis, CA), now almost 50 years ago, and has continued most of my adult life.  For many years it was a way to stay fit for other activities (primarily cycling — I raced until I was in my late 20s), and then became my primary fitness and outdoor activity.

These days, thanks to advice from former Olympian Jeff Galloway (http://www.jeffgalloway.com) and his great book Running Until You’re 100, I make it a point never to run two days in a row.  As Jeff advises, as one gets into one’s 60s, more recovery time is needed between runs.  You can run longer when you run, but you’ve got to rest more, or your body will really start to argue with you.  (Most non-running days I bicycle or use low-impact aerobic machines at the gym.)  As the years have gone by I’ve gotten slower and slower (and heavier and heavier, but hey, it’s good glycogen storage!), but the compensation is that I take in more of the scenery (there’s plenty of that along the beautiful running trails of Sacramento, CA), and spot more dropped coins along the way.

My most significant mentor and inspiration has been Gary Tuttle, the former national champion at 15K and 25K, winner of the Bay to Breakers race (photo below), and former holder of the American one-hour record (12 miles, 811 yards — that’s a 4:49/mile pace for a whole hour!).


In 1976, the year I started my law practice, in Santa Paula, CA, Gary returned to his native Ventura, nearby, and opened a running shoe and clothing store, Inside Track.  From then until his retirement and sale of the business to a younger runner a few years ago, Gary was “Mr. Running” in Ventura County, coaching, encouraging, promoting running events, and inspiring the Team Inside Track running club.  He organized training runs with different routes and distances for various abilities, so that no matter how fast or how slow one was, everyone ended up at the same place after their run.  Usually a place with beer.  The Club took bus trips to faraway places, like the annual Bay to Breakers race in San Francisco and events in Las Vegas.  Having fun by running well was always the primary goal, but great party times on the bus were a natural bonus.

Using promotional materials and ideas from Runners World Magazine, Gary put on weekend family fun-runs that got both of my daughters running at a young age, and introduced them to training and fitness concepts that took them through intercollegiate college athletics, and remain part of their lives today.  And in 1999 when I determined after years of 5Ks and 10Ks to run my first marathon (Los Angeles), it was Gary who coached me right through race day.  (Successfully, tho’ at slightly over four hours, I was not among the runners who took home new cars and thousands of dollars!)

Gary wore out shoe leather (or rubber, in the case of his running shoes) in his campaigns for City Council in Ventura.  He served for eight years, and was a model elected official when it came to really listening to the community, learning, and working hard to make the City a better place for everyone.

These days Gary’s enjoying “retirement.” His daily regimen includes some of his favorite activities, such as gardening and bird-watching (Gary kept a pair of binoculars on the counter at Inside Track and would rush to the front window every time an exotic bird was spotted in the city park across the street) and coaching high school basketball.  As well as running.  After all these years.

Thanks, Gary. And I hope we’re both still running at 100.

Thanks, and more great music coming up

Thanks to everyone who came to the house concert this past Saturday evening.  We had a big crowd in a beautiful home, and tons of fun.  Kudos to Sandra Dolores (www.sandradolores.com), Dominator and his trio (www.dominator.ukeland.com), and Dani Joy and her trio (www.danijoymusic.com).  And thanks to bassist Dean Chance and harmonica ace John Wilusz, who made yours truly sound pretty good, too!

Special notes of thanks to Stu Herreid and Dan Elliot (Dani’s bass player), owners of the The Strum Shop in Roseville (www.thestrumshop.com) for the sound system, which worked perfectly for both the audience and the musicians; house concert producer Monica Vejar; and our hostess, Arla, who opened her wonderful home for this event.

Now it’s back to work:  John and I will have some new tunes this coming Wednesday evening at the Torch Club Open Mic (5:30 – 8:00, www.torchclub.net).  And don’t miss the chance to hear Jennifer Posey Morrison (my partner in crime for some wonderful duets in the Verte Fe’e Cabaret) as together with a great cast she sings the lead part of Clara in Green Valley Theatre Company’s upcoming production of “The Light in the Piazza.”  The show opens August 15th.  Tickets and information at www.greenvalleytheatre.com.  In the meantime, a nice publicity shot from the ever-popular International Peace (wouldn’t that be nice?) Rose Gardens in Sacramento’s Capitol Park: