As you may know I am a BIG fan of music’s magical power to bring people together. The songs we know connect us to people and places far and near. Starting with the bond of lullaby and ending with the bagpipe’s requiem, music is with us all our lives. I could go on and on… in fact, I do!
Family style! Photo by Jill Richards
I did just the other day to October Crifasi, who is writing an article for Ukulele Magazine about ukulele for kids (that’s the same magazine which had me on their cover last spring!). We talked, among other things, about family music- how great it is to teach parents and kids together. The bond it creates within the family, the service it does for both parent and child. You can read about it in Ukulele Magazine’s next issue (unless they decide to not print it- you never know).
Or you can come and live the experience! I have two series classes for families starting up: A four-Saturday session starting February 28th at 10:30 am at Uspace– the new downtown LA ukulele shop-school-venue-cafe located in the Japanese American Cultural Center. (I am also working on a week long kid’s ukulele summer camp there. More on that soon)
And a 3-Saturday 10:30 am series at McCabes in Santa Monica starting March 28th.
I am also hard at work on a book! If you have taken a class with me before you have probably taken home at least one of my handouts. I have been illustrating my lessons, and when I teach an all-ages class I always have Art Stix or crayons on hand to give the kids who get antsy mid lesson. They can do some coloring while the adults keep playing. They make their own songbooks, and by the end of a semester or session they have.. a bunch of sheets of paper that all get lost.
So- I decided it’s time to get it together! Our current project is a ukulele method book with illustrations and companion recordings. Copies will be available to pre-order through Kickstarter soon. You will be hearing all about that once the campaign is launched! The art by El Rey is FANTASTIC! here is a sneak peek at the cover-
So much going on! So many festivals coming up, concerts for families… I have not had a chance to post photos from all the great things that have just happened- like the trip to Mexico…. AMAZING! If I can get the time together to make it back to the computer I will be popping some pictures up here as well as updating our schedule for the spring. So many great opportunities to share music! How lucky are we?
The Sukey Jump Band will be celebrating Summer’s end with shows in four and a half states- Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and California: Northern and Southern. We have a passel of scheduled performances we’d love to see you at. These are officially classified as “Kids Shows”, but that is a classification we love to buck.
grown ups show. You tell me which is sillier!
…I rest my case
The Sukey Jump Band has a simple mission- to share the joy making music brings with all ages. That’s how we came by the name SUKEY JUMP! In the “old days” people would gather and sing, dance, holler and laugh at gatherings known as play parties or sukey jumps. Musicians would play, leading songs everyone could enjoy and participate in, whether they danced to a call, following directions or just stomped and jumped. Songs often familiar, inviting response and welcoming chorus.
I have a favorite quote from the film State and Main (2000) by David Mamet: “Everybody makes their own fun. If you don’t make it yourself, it isn’t fun. It’s entertainment.” There is a lack of opportunity to “make fun” for all ages. We are fast becoming a society doped on the true opiate of the masses: corporate media entertainment. To quote another film “we’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take this any more!”. Although I won’t be throwing my Mac out the window I will be throwing caution to the wind and inviting you to join us in our subversive acts.
We had a hoppin’good time at the LA Zoo over the weekend, playing 10 shows in 3 days and hanging with the Big Bunny. We packed breakfast burritos with green chili and lunch burritos with red chili to share with another New Mexican, Luis Guerra who played the sassy new Ohana bass. (Can’t wait to take this little powerhouse to the Reno Uke Fest this weekend!)
Who can resist a carousel? Sure wish we had the chance to ride in the Dung Beetle Chariot!
We were told not to ask any questions about their illnesses, and Daniel and I were shown how to sanitize our hands before and after entering every room. The kids ranged from bouncing baby to tall teen. Some seemed in great spirits and health while others were struggling gravely, but the task and the goal was straightforward- to get them to smile.
The first little little girl I visited in the Children’s wing of Cedars-Sinai was about 10 years old. Her parents were both in the room. It was quiet and dark. She was very still and the machines made more sound then she did. I saw she had some silhouettes of owls hanging above her bed, and after a few words I began “The Owl and The Pussycat”. She hooted and miaued very softly. I could see she loved animals, so next I sang “Froggy Went A Courtin'”. Miss Mousie’s silly voice made her giggle very softly. And that made her parents smile.
Later at the Children’s Hospital we sat in a common room and sang for the patients who could leave their rooms. There weren’t many. One young man who joined us contributed colors for the rhyming song “Jenny Jenkins”. Carnelion and slate? Good ones, dude. Nearly had me stumped.
I am thankful to Pickleberry Pie for including me in their program. The gift the kids gave me was big and beautiful, and I am grateful for the time I was able to share with them.
I am happiest when I can do meaningful work. This is the work I love.
Before we even left LA we had a VERY IMPORTANT errand to run- We picked up my new Dirndl from Cocoe Voci’s studio. I am thrilled to have a new uniform, so beautifully constructed and lovingly designed by my sweet friend. THANK YOU, Cocoe!
Our first stops in NM were fun and chili filled. Great start in Gallup, NM with a school show and uke workshop at Nizhoi Music, the studio of our lovely hostess, Antoinette Neff.
Then on to Albuquerque where we had the BEST DAY EVER! First, we finished mastering MY CUP OF TEA. Celebration dinner at Cervantes (hotttest red chili in the Q) and then on to the new Star Trek movie! Woo HOO!
We brought music to the ACSL family and then on to Santa Fe, where we enjoyed making music for a private party. The night started with John and Daniel playing flamenco and ended with leading a campfire style sing along.
The next morning we took the OhanaMobile to Jeff at Lucky Saab, where we did a ghetto fix on the AC with bread ties and zip ties.
Master mechanic and apprentice
We were tipped off to the storms blowing in and delayed our departure. We were driving straight towards Oklahoma City as the storms ripped through Moore. The skies were ominous and filled with fear and pain. We sang the song “Little Birdie” as a prayer for the people in the path, and are going to share that song in our Kickstarter update this week.
We arrived in Tulsa with heavy hearts at 2 am, but the children who greeted us the next morning at Connors Cove were as audatious and ebulent as children ever are. We had two bopping shows and look forward to 4 more shows at 4 other libraries in the next two days before we ship off for Kansas City.
We are telling everyone we meet about the new CD and the Kickstarter campaign which has two more weeks to go. We are getting close to our goal and hope to exceed it handsomly so we can both pay musicians and move forward with PR for the album. If you have not had a chance please pledge now! Click here (MY CUP OF TEA) to go to the page where you will be able to hear songs, see art, read about the process and become part of the fun!
This notorious musician has just KILLED on 13 tracks with innumerable instruments.
I am listening to fresh mixes of the songs for My Cup Of Tea and my mind is being blown.
John on drums, african percussion, latin percussion, vocals, jaw harp, stand-up bass, electric funk bass, banjo, Spike Lee bells and whistles, log drum, glockenspiel, xylophone… oh my.
For instance: on Little Birdie- a simple mountain song he lays down this banjo part. I hadn’t realized it before, but tonight I heard it. It embodies the meaning of the song. On the first and final verse the banjo twitters; it’s the little Birdie’s voice. (Then I hear his bass bowing an Amazing Grace reference I hadn’t heard before.) Finally, on the verse “I’ve a short time for to be here and a long while to be gone” I hear a mi-fa ostanato, like the ticking of a clock. That’s it. That is the point of the whole thing. I was there when everything was recorded, but I could not hear it yet. He knew it all along, and played it without comment, patiently waiting for my ears to catch up. Sneaky bastard.
Frontieer green on an In-N-Out double-double. That’s livin’!
You know your friends love you when they bring you the XL tub of roasted frozen green chili from the Frontieer! John flew in for the show at McCabes Sunday morning with 56 oz. of love packed in his suitcase. And a special treat for my girls- Cow Patties!
The final Frontier Rolls, aka “Cow Patties”!
Our hero, Richard Fultineer had drums to loan John for the show! Thank you Richard!!! He needed to drop them off at 9 am, which is before McCabes opens and right when John’s plane was arriving. I dropped Daniel off with coffee, a cajon to sit on and his coronet, so he could practice his licks while awaiting hand-off . Revilee for the neighborhood.
We had a great show, and are happy to report that the Kickstarter campaign is now in full swing! You can pre-order the CD or book us for a kid’s party with your pledge… even download a single song! Check it out HERE! I am touched by the first donors who have jumped in. So many folks from the Kindie world are showing support, and it means the world to me. Every pledge brings me a smile of gratitude and gets us that much closer to getting this baby pressed.
We had some crazy rehearsals for the tour (FYI- the canjo will be in heavy rotation this spring) and ate through the whole tub of chili in under 4 days. We visited preschools, saw the ocean, walked the Venice canals, visited LACMA, drank beer and cooked amazing meals. Now I can’t wait till the tour starts in 2 weeks!
But first I will be taking a detour up to Northern Cal for the West Coast Ukulele retreat, teaching and playing for a week at Asilomar State Beach. Lots of work, but also kind of a vacation.
The final gig of the summer! Daniel and I flew out to Chicago and met up with two GREAT musicians, Nick Macri on the Bass and Jason Toth, percussionist. The shows were great, and being Labor Day, included songs by Woody Guthrie and some serious Americana as well as songs to encourage everyone to vote. (Now that school is back in session I can’t help but get all teacher-y)
There were some Funny Little People there!
We drove the scenic route to visit friends and stopped along the way to pick a peck of peppers at a Pick-Your-Own place.
Doesn’t get much fresher then that!
Now to buckle down and get back to real life for a month, which means teaching classes and lessons, playing local gigs and parties. (see schedule on the website) And getting ready for the next BIG ADVENTURE: CHINA with Ohana!
Before we drop off the blog for a bit, we want to be sure we thank all the wonderful folks who hosted us, welcomed us into their towns and venues, came out to our shows and mae this summer what it was: a beautiful experience: Thank you all. And special thanks to Louis Wu at Ohana Ukulele. For making darn fine instruments that are affordable and accessible, and his committment to get them into the hands of kids!