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!
Don’t be left out. Tickets for our upcoming VerteFée Cabaret show, “How the West Was Wild,” are on sale now at https://greenvalleytheatre.com/tickets.
And coming up next month, it looks as if our Cabaret crew will be back at the Crocker Art Museum for its June 9th ArtMix. This month’s was a ton of fun, and we’ll have even more in store for the next one!
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
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!
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!
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.
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.
See you there!
Switching 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.
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:
It’s been a while. Just got back from a trip to Disney’s California Adventure:
Before that it was a week at Jon Gindick’s Ventura CA Harmonica Jam Camp. An absolute blast!
With 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!
Coming up starting this weekend at GVT, the amazing show “The Last 5 Years.” Tickets available now at www.greenvalleytheatre.com.
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.
That’s about it for now. Keep an eye out for our next VerteFée Cabaret. Until then, happy uke-in’ to all!
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.”
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.
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.