Lots of Fun, Coming Right Up!

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The VerteFée Cabaret gang from the Green Valley Theatre Company will be part of the entertainment this coming Thursday evening May 12th at the Crocker Art Museum’s monthly ArtMix!  We’ll be part of a big show, the theme for which is Bike Month!  If you’re a Crocker Member, admission is free.  If not, why not join and support the Crocker Art Museum?   Or simply pay the low-low-low ticket price.  Reservations at http://tickets.crockerartmuseum.org/Info.aspx?EventID=18

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And then Memorial Day Weekend, May 27 & 28, the VerteFée Cabaret is back, with “How the West was Wild!”  Music, dance, burlesque, comedy, and a whole lot more.  Tickets available now at https://greenvalleytheatre.com/tickets/

From all of us buckaroos and cowgirls at the VerteFée Cabaret, here’s hoping to see you there!

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Our Next Cabaret

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We had a wonderful time earlier this month as the Green Valley Theatre’s VerteFée Cabaret entertained you with “Silver Screen Queens.”  We’ve got another one coming up really quickly in May, over Memorial Day Weekend.  This time our theme is “How the West was Wild.”  Our most recent show was completely sold out both nights, so be sure to visit www.greenvalleytheatre.com early and often to look for tickets to our next one.  It’s going to be great!

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BIG APRIL SHOWS COMING UP!

Hi everyone.  Two shows not to miss.

First, this Wednesday evening April 6th, 6:30 p.m. sharp at the Torch Club (904 15th Street, Sacramento), Ukulele Rob returns with his Quartet for another half-hour mini-show Feature as part of Sandra Dolores’ weekly Acoustic Open Mic.  This time around we’re going back to great songs of the silver screen, featuring Dean Chance on bass, Peter Halldorf on drums and John Wilusz on harmonica, guitar and vocals.  Plus a special treat!  Sacramento musical theater talent Tilly Megan O’Laughlin will join us for one of our numbers!

No cover charge, but the Torch Club is an over-21 only tavern.  The evening starts at 5:30 with lots of great performers, and then we’re on from 6:30 to 7:00.

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Then coming up Friday and Saturday nights April 15th and 16th, Green Valley Theatre Company’s next VerteFée Cabaret.  Green Valley’s Cabaret shows have become the talk of the town, and always sell out.  So get your tickets early, at www.greenvalleytheatre.com.

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See you there!

Now The Story Can Be Told!

Solvang-history-VeloNewsSwitching from music to cycling for a moment, now it can finally be told.  The true story of how Ukulele Rob was defeated in his final race as a licensed amateur cyclist by three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond.

Actually, while it’s true that yours truly capped his brief competitive cycling career losing to one of the greatest cyclists in history, the details are a bit more complicated.  The year was 1977 or 1978, as I recall.  I was a United States Cycling Federation Category II licensed cyclist, riding for the Santa Barbara Bicycle Club.  It was the annual October weekend in the Santa Ynez Valley, when riders came from all over the West Coast and Nevada to compete in the Santa Ynez Road Race and Solvang Criterium.  With a budding legal career (and if it actually was 1978, a daughter on the way) I’d decided earlier in the season to “hang ‘um up” after Santa Ynez.

Categories I & II rode together in the main event on Saturday, the road race.  A teenager by the name of Greg LeMond came down from Carson City with his Dad, Bob, himself an amateur racer of some renown.  Greg was already an up and coming Junior, and he and his Dad asked then-USCF District Representative Robert Enright whether or not Greg could ride with the “grown-ups” in the Category I & II event, rather than in the Junior Road Race.  Enright was known as stickler for rules, but was persuaded by the race promoters and the competitors to allow Greg to join the big boys, after being convinced that Greg wouldn’t hurt himself by riding in the longest of the weekend’s events.

At least we all started at the same time.  But about 40 miles into the race I suffered a puncture.  Amateur racing in those days wasn’t what you see these days in pro events on TV.  There was no team equipment car to rush to my rescue with a fresh wheel.  No crowds of team fans with spare bikes to lend.  Instead, as the rest of the peloton sped away into the distance, I had to pull out some tools, remove my glued-on “sew-up” flat tire, replace it with a sticky pre-glued spare that I carried in a back jersey pocket, and pump it up with my frame-mounted emergency pump.  Then it was back aboard, chasing, while trying to keep the tire rim glue on my gloves from cementing my water bottle to my hands.

As I rode on to the finish, bit by bit I caught other riders who had punctured, crashed, or had simply been blown out the back by the peloton, until we had a well-organized chase group of about ten of us.  About five miles out from the finish line we added Hannah North, then one of the top women in the sport (who as I recall was riding that year for the L.A. area’s Paramount Cycling Club).  Hannah had herself flatted during the women’s road race that had started on the same course.

As we made the final turn toward the finish-line banner, onto Alamo Pintado Avenue in Los Olivos (where the race staff was actually starting to take the banner down, after having packed up most of the crowd barriers and other finish-line equipment), our group made a pact for a straight-on, handlebar-to-handlebar, no-drafting, no tactics sprint for the final 10 places in the standings, and we made good on that pact with two blocks to go as — to the horror of the folks milling in the street at the finish — we spread out across the entire pavement, from one curb to the other, at 35 mph, and put our heads down and went at it.

I finished somewhere in the middle, but with none of the officials making any attempt to figure out who was finishing 132nd, 133rd, 134th, etc., who knows?  But I do know that the winner of our lanterne rouge chase group sprint was … Ms. North!

By the time I got over to the park where the awards ceremony was being held, race winner Greg LeMond had already showered, put on a clean team jersey for the photographers, and had accepted his prize (and chagrined congratulations from Mr. Enright).

But the sweet smell of victory was short for LeMond.  The following morning one of my SBBC teammates, Rory O’Reilly, aced him out for the win in the weekend’s final event, the Men’s Category I & II Solvang Criterium.  (That’s O’Reilly coming around LeMond in the photo, above.)

After that weekend we each went our separate ways.  LeMond, of course, went on to win the Tour de France three times (and with the disgrace of Lance Armstrong, remains the only American to ever win Le Tour), the professional World Championship Road Race twice, and a host of classic U.S. and European events, and he continues to be a great spokesman for the sport.  O’Reilly went on to specialize in the “kilo” on the track, where he was a Gold Medalist at the Pan Am Games in 1983, and competed for the U.S. in the 1984 Olympics.  Later on he was a successful cycling coach.

As for me, in the years right after, I spent some time as a District Representative for the U.S. Cycling Federation, promoted some local races, and even worked as a certified Official at some international events.  The closest I ever came to actually competing after that was some years later when, while riding a classic Raleigh 3-speed with fenders and solid-bar brakes and wearing a sport coat and tie, I accidentally stumbled across a road race in progress and jumped into the midst of a Category IV pack, mid-race, much to the amusement of the competitors.  (I dropped out before the first road intersection, rather than risk being intercepted by a race official.)

And I also have fond memories from another 3-speed ride in 2010 here in Sacramento when, days before the start of the Tour of California, I was riding to a meeting via the American River Parkway at a comfy 13 mph.  I was caught by a line of cyclists wearing identical Quick-Step team jerseys.  Thinking they were locals, I fell in with them, taking my turns at the front, easing back in a rotating pace line, just like the good old days of racing, as the guys in the group giggled.  On one rotation I recognized a smiling Tom Boonen (2005 World Road Race Champion), and suddenly realized “Hey … these aren’t replica jerseys!  They’re the real thing!”  Just then one of the team members patted me on the shoulder, smiled, and said in a thick Swiss accent, “OK … we go fast now.”  And off the professional Quick-Step team went at 30 mph, leaving me in the dust.

Coming to a Theater Near You!

The next two months are going to be fun.  For starters, Runaway Stage Productions will be doing “Legally Blond,” with a great cast (and live full orchestra).  Check it out:

12801117_10207637156361236_304400838818305389_nThen in April yours truly will be back on the boards at the Green Valley Theatre’s next VertéeFee Cabaret.  This time it’s “The Silver Screen.”  It’ll be a hoot.

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‘Bout time to update y’all

It’s been a while.  Just got back from a trip to Disney’s California Adventure:

12642717_219229138420191_6903949621394194579_nAs in … finally made it to Hollywood!

Before that it was a week at Jon Gindick’s Ventura CA Harmonica Jam Camp.  An absolute blast!

12669477_10153845791060097_2352691593936361311_nWith all the travel I missed out on participating in the most recent Green Valley Theatre VerteFée Cabaret, “Guide to Vice,” but got to sit in on dress rehearsal.  What an amazing show.  And both nights were SOLD OUT!

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Coming up starting this weekend at GVT, the amazing show “The Last 5 Years.”  Tickets available now at www.greenvalleytheatre.com.

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As you know, the folks at Mya-Moe Ukuleles make some wonderful instruments.  I have one in the oven right now, coming my way sometime later this month.  Can’t wait.

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That’s about it for now.  Keep an eye out for our next VerteFée Cabaret.  Until then, happy uke-in’ to all!

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Happy Thanksgiving!

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Our “Tales of Forgotten Dreams” Cabaret show this past weekend was fabulous!  Hope you got to see it.  Here’s yours truly doing his Bogie impression with “As Time Goes By” from “Casablanca.”

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Great fun to work with our house band, “Boo Radley and the Finch Kids,” and all of the talented dancers and singers we featured.

And to get you in a holiday mood, here’s a shot (thanks to Yuri T Photography) from last December’s VerteFe’e Cabaret.  Stay tuned for news about our first one for 2016.

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Upcoming VerteFée Cabaret Nov. 20-21!

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Don’t miss this one.  There will be more singing and dancing that you can shake a stick at … if that’s your idea of a good time.  Plus magic, comedy, burlesque and more.

I’ll be singing two numbers, one written in 1911, the other in 1931.  The music for the older tune was written by a composer who at the time was also pitching for the Chicago White Sox.  The other tune is one that’s become not just a classic, but one of the most evocative songs ever.  No spoilers.  To find out what the songs are … you’ll have to come to the show!

Tickets available soon at www.greenvalleytheatre.com.

See you there, Friday and Saturday nights, November 20 and 21.

TOMORROW NIGHT!

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Hi everyone! Just a reminder, if you’re anywhere in Northern California these days our Ukulele Rob Trio + 1 workshop and show at The Strum Shop in Roseville is tomorrow evening, October 30th.

At 6;00 I’ll be doing my “Learn to Love E-Flat” workshop. Perfect for beginners and intermediate players (but fun for everyone) who’d like to stretch a bit beyond the usual major chords. We’ll be using a well-known Tin Pan Alley song to learn about flavoring tunes with some of the neat things you can do with four fingers and four strings.

Then at 7:00 it’s showtime! This year at The Strum Shop I’m joined by vocalist Beth Grigsby (“Red’s Blues”), slap-bass hero Zack Sapunor (“The Jim Cullum Jazz Band,” “SacTown Playboys” and “Hot City”) and harmonica ace and vocalist John Wilusz.

Tickets and more info available at http://thestrumshop.com/events/ukulele-rob-workshop-and-concert#sthash.0TYrwKBL.dpbs , but here’s a great deal: Get a message to one of us via FaceBook (look for John Wilusz, Zack Sapunor or Beth Reid Grigsby) post a comment to this post, and save $3 off the price of admission.

The Strum Shop is conveniently located off Interstate 80 at Douglas Avenue in Roseville CA, near Trader Joe’s in the Roseville Square Shopping Center.

See you there!

 

 

Get Your Tickets Now!

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Coming up Friday night October 30th I’ll be back at The Strum Shop in Roseville with my Ukulele Rob Trio + One show. I’m pleased to announce that our “+ One” this time will be Beth Grigsby, leader of the Red’s Blues band, one of the hit acts at this past May’s Sacramento Music Festival. A wonderful singer, Beth will be singing some classic old-time blues. And back with me again at The Strum Shop are my friends Zack Sapunor (slap-bass and vocals; Zack is in demand all over town, if not the country, playing regularly as a member of the Sactown Playboys and Hot City, and sitting in at festivals with groups like the Au Brothers) and John Wilusz (more fine vocals, plus chromatic and diatonic harmonica; John was featured last month at The Torch Club’s “History of the Blues” show.)

We’ll start off with an hour-long ukulele workshop, using “It’s Only a Paper Moon” to learn about the fun key of E-Flat. Great for beginners to pros. But even if you’re not a ukulele player, you’ll still have fun learning some things about popular American songs, and you’ll want to sing along.

Tickets are available now on line at The Strum Shop’s site, at http://store.strumshop.com/event-tickets. But for our friends and fans, here’s a great deal: If you buy your ticket directly from Zack, John, Beth or me ahead of time, your ticket, regularly $15, is only $12! Email me at ukerob@icloud.com, or message any of us at our Facebook pages, https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009993183891, https://www.facebook.com/zack.sapunor?fref=ts, https://www.facebook.com/john.wilusz.79?fref=ts, and https://www.facebook.com/beth.reidgrigsby?fref=ts.

Hope to see you there!