This past weekend’s first-ever Palm “Strings” Ukulele Festival was fantastic! Put on by Doug Reynolds and his PlayUke LLC team (www.playuke.net), it came off without a hitch, and plans are already underway for the “Second Annual.” Can’t wait.
The weekend started with a pool party featuring Seattle-based jazz guitarist and ‘uke whiz Michael Powers (www.michaelpowersmusic.com). Yours truly spent a lot of the party sitting in a hot tub, enjoying the music. The weather was perfect, with clear skies, highs in the mid-80s, and lows in the low 60s. Saturday I started off with a short run though some of Palm Springs’ classic Mid-Century Modern residential neighborhoods, and I skipped out of some of the workshops to take in places like Shag’s gallery (www.shagthestore.com), “Mecca” for tiki and exotica aficionados. Saturday evening’s sold-out concert was three hours of musical joy, as each of the workshop teachers took the stage to show their stuff. Imagine this bill: Cali Rose & Craig Brandau (www.calirose.com, www.ukulelecraig.com), followed by Fred & Lynn Sokolow (www.sokolowmusic.com), then Jason Arimoto with Brad Ranola on percussion (www.jasonarimoto.com), followed by Michael Powers, topped off by headliner Victoria Vox (www.victoriavox.com).
There was lots of jamming in the lobby (the Hilton is nicely retro-dated to its 1950s origins; see photo, below), musical chats with new friends at the bar and around the pool, and a vendor area featuring some of California’s top independent ukulele makers and shops.
Not enough can be said about Victoria Vox. She did an afternoon seminar on using note lines in chord changes in songwriting that went far beyond musical theory into what really makes a songwriter tick, and then followed it that evening with a wonderful performance of some of her best songs. She’s on the road promoting her new CD, “When the Night Unravels,” literally traveling all over the world. (She came out to Palm Springs following shows around her hometown of Baltimore, and right after the Festival flew to Wisconsin for a songwriter conference in Sturgeon Bay. The months ahead will see her in Florida, Vancouver Canada and Melbourne Australia, before she returns to the Atlantic Coast. Check out her schedule at www.victoriavox.com/shows. No matter where you are in the world, she may very well be coming to a theater near you!)
Finally, a shout-out to Palm Springs’ wonderful Art Museum. A great combination of traditional art with some new stuff that gets amazingly edgy. And admission is free on Sundays! Here’s Victoria checking out a painting that might be a little bit oversized to take home in carry-on luggage:
See you in Palm Springs next February?