Happy New Year!

Hi everyone!  Looks as if I let this blog sit in the deep freeze for quite a while.  Hoping that 2018 is a year that I bring it back to life, with a lot more regularity.

2017’s highlights included performances with the VerteFe’e Cabaret at Green Valley Theatre; a week in Clarksdale Mississippi at Jon Gindick’s Harmonica Jam Camp; and various solo and group performances around town.  (Including Bob Herron’s annual 1920’s-themed New Year’s Eve party, held this year at Green Valley.  (Thanks to Mark Chu-Lin for the great photo, above.)

Another highlight of the year was being invited to join a 20-voice choral group, the “Celebration Singers,” at St. John’s Lutheran Church here in Sacramento.  We sing at various services from time to time, and I’ll try to get word out ahead of time each time we will be contributing to the worship service.  All are welcome at St. John’s, and “all” truly means ALL.  Even if your religious or spiritual background isn’t Protestant Christian, our Director somehow magically gets sounds out of us that will take your heart to that place where earthly words can’t describe.  (In other words, even if the prayers and preaching don’t inspire you, you’re more than welcome to come for the music and stay for the coffee and cookies.)

2017 also marked my taking up one more new instrument:  The four-string plectrum banjo.  I’ve always loved the instrument, and for the inspiration to take it up have to thank folks like VerteFe’e Cabaret bandmate Dean Chance (bass and guitar, who one night at the theatre pointed to my banjo uke and inquired “why don’t you get one of those REAL jazz banjos?”) and my friend and touring banjo ace Katie Cavera of Los Angeles.  I’ve  been taking lessons from Sacramento-based Bill Dendle, one of the nation’s top jazz banjo performers.  The best thing about being a beginner on an instrument is that — at least in the beginning — progress is really obvious.  As from “awful” to “not really THAT awful” in a matter of only months.

So what’s ahead for 2018?  At Green Valley we’re all excited about getting into the new and larger (and better-wired and better-plumbed) new facility in West Sacramento.  Watch this page for updates.  I’m already signed up for the 10th Annual Reno Ukulele Festival, and hope I get a chance to perform there once again on the Marketplace Stage.  (The first of what is now the Reno Fest, then called the Tahoe Area Ukulele Festival, and held in Minden Nevada, was my very first ukulele festival, and was the start of a whole lot of wonderful things.)  More learning on the harmonica and plectrum banjo (including some workshops I’ve signed up for at Dave Barrett’s School of the Blues in San Jose).  And more fun singing and playing uke.

Hope 2018 gets off to a great start for all of you!