A Brief History of the Reno Uke Fest and PlayUke, Part IV: Sellout!

I’ve been urging you to reserve early for Reno VI, and you’ve been listening.  As of today, all Super Passes and daily passes to the premium workshops are gone!  But there are still lots of opportunities to enjoy the Festival, including free workshops and ukulele entertainment.  And the Nugget still has tickets available for the Friday and Saturday night shows in its Celebrity Showroom.  Info at www.playuke.net.

But while Reno is PlayUke’s signature event, Doug Reynolds and Rich Dann are constantly busy thinking up other opportunities for ukulele enthusiasts to get together and have fun.  Twice a year folks in Southern California can take a short drive to the mountains above San Bernardino for the California Uke Academy.  And last year’s Old West Uke Train will be back this fall.

uke train

(That’s Doug’s wife Melinda and me, above, entertaining each other on the 2013 Old West Uke Train, while Doug eyes us warily.)

The first Old West Uke Train was a blast.  Along for the ride (and workshops and concert at Virginia City’s Silverland Inn) were folks like Brook Adams (www.brookadams.com), Michael Powers (www.michaelpowersmusic.com) and Italy’s fabulous Ukulollo (www.ukulollo.com).  And as for the train trip itself, aboard the historic Virginia & Truckee, the San Francisco Chronicle recently recognized it as one of the top draws in the West for steam locomotive afficionados (http://www.sfgate.com/travel/fiveplaces/article/Great-places-for-fans-of-steam-locomotives-5212647.php)

Sadly, not all of the Doug & Rich’s events are destined to become annual fixtures.  I had a really fun time at their first (and apparently last) Ukulele Picnic in Nevada’s oldest city, Genoa.  (Pronounced gen-OH-ah by locals.)  Dominator and I each presented workshops, and there was plenty of strum-along and barbecue.  A perfect combination.  But it was just a one-day event, and a long drive for anyone not from Nevada’s Carson Valley region.  (Of course, if the goal is to uke it up in an old city, I’ll go for a PlayUke event in Paris or Rome any day!)

Another wonderful event that may never happen again was the November 2012 Lake Tahoe Retreat, held at the Zypher Point Presbyterian Conference Center on the shore of Lake Tahoe’s stunning Zephyr Cove.


An unexpected early snowstorm made travel to the retreat a tire-chain adventure, and the planned outdoor performances at the Center’s amphitheatre had to be moved indoors.  But what could be more fun than being snowed in with people like Sarah Maisel (www.sarahmaisel.com), Aaron and Nicole Keim (www.quietamericanmusic.com) and Jim D’Ville (www.playukulelebyear.com)??

OK … I’ll admit that being snowed in with Jim D’Ville is in a separate category.

But no matter rain nor sleet nor hail, no matter whether large crowds or a few folks popping in, no matter whether in the “Biggest Little City in the World” or a small town somewhere along a half-deserted highway, Doug and Rich are willing to try anything to provide fun for ukulele players.  And every time, it works!