This Is Not A Test (Kitchen)

Preparing to teach a cooking class  at the end of January at the La Semana de Uke retreat on the shores of lake Chapala  in Jalisco, Mexico means testing out some recipe ideas at home.

There are still a few spaces available to join us on this adventure which includes hiking, photography, cooking and music.  Those of you locked in a cold wintery area: I especially recommend you consider packing a small bag and jumping on the first Aeromexico flight you can book.

Here is an enticing food-a-logue to get you thinking about it.

Last week Daniel wanted to work on a flautas/taquito idea.  Poor me,  I had to suffer the consequences.

Looks tasty already!

Looks tasty already!

While gigging in Baltimore(of all places), Daniel had eaten some really tasty appetizers in a fancy Mexican joint.  Flautas con pollo were on his mind: crunchy “Mexican egg rolls”, spiced with chili, oregano, zest and juice of orange, lime and lemon… mmmm.

First, a chicken was spatchcocked and roasted,  (OK, I just love to say “spatchcocked”.  But admit it- don’t you?) shredded and mixed with the citrus, plus onion, garlic, herbs, chillies and other seasonings.

There are always some secrets kept, even in the most intimate of relationships.  Even between blogger and reader.  It is what keeps our relationship fresh.  So, yes- there may have been salt and pepper added.  Perhaps even olive oil.  But I’ll never tell.

The tiny test kitchen gets a workout!

The tiny test kitchen gets a workout!

Flour tortillas were filled and rolled with the heavenly stuffing, but instead of frying…IMG_7415he baked them in the oven.  Red Chili from Chimayo, New Mexico makes the sauce… and it is never a party without a little guacamole!

 

he baked them in the oven.  Red Chili from Chimayo, New Mexico makes the sauce… and it is never a party without a little guacamole!

Daniel gets serious about plating

Daniel gets serious about plating and garnish

and….

Mmmmmm...   Nuf said.

Mmmmmm… Nuf said.

The next day he made the same thing,  but with corn tortillas, taquito style.  Even better.  Kid tested, kid approved!

However,  I think he needs to work on this idea some more, don’t you?   My mouth is watering just thinking about it!  If you can’t stop by for dinner this week you should definitely check your schedule for the last week of January…   Learn more about joining us at http://ukuleleadventures.com/

com com com nom nom nom.

 

 

 

Weekend Ukulele Warrior – The Adventure Continues!

photo by James Barnett,  wetakenicepictures.com

photo by James Barnett, wetakenicepictures.com

Weekend UKULELE Warriors    Saturdays, 12:00 at Mc Cabes Guitar Shop, $40

8/30 FUNK IT UP with Daniel Ward learn hammers, slides and the requisite overbite to Play that Funky Music, White Boy.

NO WEEKEND WARRIORS for the month of September! Why don’t you hit the road and join at Wine country Ukulele Festival, Wiggle Out Loud festival and the Albuquerque Ukulele festival!?

10/4 PLAY THE UKULELE IN A DAY with Heidi Swedberg and Daniel Ward

 10/11 RIGHT HAND-LEFT HAND This workshop is a passage to comfort.  Daniel Ward concentrates on the magic of discovering how easy it is to play when you get a simple group of skills that lines up both hands, and frees you from some old demons.  Handouts include simple warm ups and drills, fingerpicking, and strumming help, and a big overview of how it all fits.

10/18 DO-WACKA-DO! Heidi Swedberg teaches the signature ukulele strum and pairs it with a classic Americana Ragtime song.

10/25 SPOOKY! In deference to the season Heidi Swedberg hits the minor leagues and plays with the major/minor sound.

 

NEW Workshops at Wine Country

 

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Last year Wine Country Ukulele Festival was a wild and busy experience!  I was filling in for Andy Andrews as MC who was helping his son Eli recover from a terrible car crash. This year we have something to celebrate- their incredible success!  Eli is now back in his life surrounded by love in full bloom, love made stronger and richer by the ordeal and trials it passed through.

Between teaching classes, performing, doing a kid’s show and introducing all the incredible performers I met the lovely folks from UKULELE MAGAZINE who did a short interview with me and took a few pictures.  I was VERY surprised to see my face on the cover of the magazine four months later!  It’s like the cover of the Rolling Stone for uke players!

I am very happy to be returning this year as just a teacher and performer.  Andy’s shoes were a little too big for me, and I am relieved to be handing them back!

I will be teaching a bunch of new workshops and am working on my materials now, with Daniel’s help.  Yes, not only can he play, he can TRANSCRIBE!  Daniel’s got an all new curriculum as well.  I have copied the class descriptions below to give you an idea of what  you can sign up for- and I urge you to do it soon!  Some of the workshops are filling up already.  I must admit that I am particularly excited about the lyrical improv class, “Me and my Big Mouth”!  That one doesn’t even require you to play a uke!

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Learn to Play in a Day

Heidi Swedberg LOVES to teach absolute beginners. The more absolute, the better.  And by the end of one session, she guarantees you will be singing and playing songs on your uke and  laughing a heck of a lot.  While anyone, of any age, is welcome to attend this workshop, we ask that kids under 8 be accompanied by a participating adult.

 

Me and My Big Mouth

There’s a knack to thinking on your feet with your uke in your hand and being the life of the party. And one of the sure fire ways to make sure you, and your uke are invited back, is with this  little repertoire of fun songs  that allow you to make up the lyrics as you go along and throw in a punchline or two. Under the direction (and whacky inspiration) of Heidi Swedberg, who is a master of lyrical improvisation, you will learn how to use a couple of classic tunes to be as bawdy (or not) as you wish. It’s a terrific way to connect with your audience in a timely fashion and bring a smile to more faces than just your own. If you’ve ever seen Heidi in action and wondered “how does she do it?” come to this workshop and find out.

 

If You Had a Hammer

If you had a hammer, you’d probably hammer in the morning…..and all over this land.  But first you’d need to know how to swing it, and that’s what this workshop is all about. Here, Heidi Swedberg will work with you on a couple of popular tunes that you probably already know, but, with the addition of a few simple left-hand techniques, known as  hammers and pull-offs, you will be able to add  “grace” or melody notes  that will add piles of pizzazz to these, otherwise, very simple tunes. Not only that, you’ll come away with some fun songs to practice with, that will  help your left hand move confidently and powerfully across each of the strings and along the entire fretboard.

Freight Train, Freight Train

You, too, will be “going so fast,” once you have learned a few second-position chords and the simple, Travis picking pattern offered in this workshop by Heidi Swedberg. And what better song to practice it on than Elizabeth Cotton’s iconic song, Freight Train, Freight Train, a tune written more than 100 years ago and a great song to have in your quiver.  Plus, once you get this technique down, you’ll realize there are more tunes in your repertoire you can use this classic picking pattern with.  All aboard for the ride of your life!

Heart and Soul

No need to lose control, though, because Heidi Swedberg will guide you every step of the way as you navigate the Circle of Fifths, exploring the lovely chord progression in this great American standard.  And, as a bonus, you’ll learn the bridge!  (Nobody knows the bridge!)  Not only that, this workshop will open up a whole new world of musical insight that will carry over into just about every tune you’ll ever play on your ‘ukulele. Believe me; we all need a little heart and soul.

DANIEL”S WORKSHOPS

The Old Switcheroo

One of the biggest challenges facing any beginning player (and a number of more advanced players, as well) is switching the fingers on your left hand from one chord to another in a seamless and timely fashion. It’s hard!  But, it doesn’t have to be. In this workshop Daniel Ward will show you how to make those changes with little, or no, effort at all through a series of easy exercises and some expert advice that will let you relax and enjoy the music, without any pain or frustration.

Ethno-Ukeology

Take one tune and put it through several different style changes with your right hand and what have you got?  Ethno-ukeolgy.  From the friendly Travis pick to the more complex strums of  Latin America and the Caribbean, Daniel Ward will teach you how to  “cook” on the strings with some tasty spices, including (but not limited to) calypso, salsa, reggae, and country! Slow practice in class will make sure that you get it all under your skin before trying this at home, and handouts will make sure you get it right. Sounds like a hoot and necessary information to have under your belt. Plus you can have a little fun with it.   How about “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” with a calypso beat?

Stormy Weekend Part 1

Actually, the title of the song is “Stormy Monday,” the blues classic that will serve as the foundation for this 2-part workshop by Daniel Ward. Learning to play the blues provides such a solid foundation for any player’s repertoire, that we recommend you take at least one of our blues workshops, even if you don’t take anything else.  In this one, developed for more experienced players, Daniel will cover both familiar and advanced chord shapes in time with the changes, as well as the pentatonic and blues scales in major and minor for soloing.  You can count on some good right hand attention too, exploring the strengths of finger-style, strumming, and using a pick.  By the end of the second workshop you will be “trading chords and solos” as partners and come away with a whole set of new skills to help tackle any blues song on your own. Part 1 is highly recommended if you want to take Part 2.

Stormy Weekend Part 2

This is an extension, primarily for more advanced players of Stormy Weekend, Part 1, focusing on the more advanced chord shapes and right hand technique, including  finger-style, strumming, and using a pick.  The blues classic “Stormy Monday” will serve as the foundation.  By the end of this workshop you will be “trading chords and solos” as partners and come away with a whole set of new skills to help tackle any blues song on your own. To get the most out of this workshop, you should take Stormy Weekend, Part 1.

All of Me!

Why not take all of me?  It’s a wonderful opportunity to explore and learn this iconic tune with Daniel Ward and discover all its lovely jazz changes without getting lost! And, since the tune itself travels through several different keys, you’ll start to get a feel for how the dominant chord can take you places you didn’t know you wanted to go!  And you’ll be learning some basic jazz strumming techniques at the same time. By the end of the session, you’ll not only have a new tune under your belt, you’ll also have a pocketful of tricks to apply to other songs of the genre. Can’t you see?  You’re no good without this.

Do the Fandango!

  1. 1. a lively Spanish dance for two people, typically accompanied by castanets or tambourine, or 2. a foolish or useless act or thing. For our purposes, we’ll go with the first definition, a 12-count rhythm that requires some thumb work and fancy strumming, with temolo,  scales, and rageuados for the right hand, to get that traditional flamenco sound. And who better to give it to you than Daniel Ward, a professional flamenco guitarist for the past 30 years? With a traditional flamenco fandango under your belt, you’ll be set to play on your own for hours and sound simply amazing…not a foolish or useless thing at all. A low G is a plus if you have one, but skills and techniques learned here will work well with re-entrant tuning, as well.

(Heidi and Daniel don’t always refer to themselves in the third person, but when Heidi and Daniel do….  Thanks, Elaine DeMann for writing up such lively course descriptions!  Too good not to steal!)

A ukulele, a glass of wine and thou….

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Fine photos of last year by Craig Chee!

The Wine Country Ukulele Festival is coming up soon, and I want to encourage everyone to consider heading up to St Helena in the Nappa Valley and joining us for a day or two or three or four of fun and learning.  This event has something for all ages and skill levels.  Even if you are not a player, it’s a great time.  And don’t forget the WINE!

 

Thursday, September 4   5:30 – 7:00 pm     Free Concert & Ice Cream Social for the Kiddies, to be held at Umpqua Bank, 1065 Main Street, St. Helena, CA

 

Friday, September 5    

10am – 12pm      FREE music at the Farmer’s market, and a FREE beginner’s workshop.  Make sure to buy some good food to bring to the FREE Ukulele Picnic that evening!

5:30 pm – dusk     Wine Country Ukulele Picnic at Lyman Park

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Saturday, Sept. 6

10am – 5pm  Wine Country Ukulele Festival

Free beginner’s lessons, ukulele give-aways, live music, ‘ukulele marketplace,  instructional workshops, ‘ukulele building demonstrations, jam sessions, open mic, flea market, and more all at the Wine Country ‘Ukulele Festival at the Upper Valley Campus of the Napa Valley College, in St. Helena.  (Admission $15.  Free for children 12 and under. Extra charge for instructional workshops.)

 

5pm – 8pm   Big Jam Saturday Night

Brand new for this year, the all-festival dinner and jam led by the original jam master, Andy Andrews, held right there at the Upper Valley Campus of the Napa Valley College so you don’t have to budge an inch…not even for dinner because the fabulous taco bar by Azteca will be coming back.  Free with festival admission.  Dinner will be extra. Song books will be posted soon.

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 Sunday, Sept. 7

10am – 5pm Aloha Day Returns!

Join Faith Ako and Steven Espaniola for a kani ka pila (Hawaiian for “let’s make music”), and a day full of Hawaiian music, dance, crafts, and food, in addition to our traditional ‘ukulele workshops (covering topics from all genres), ‘ukulele building demonstrations, ‘ukulele marketplace, open mic, free beginners lessons, ‘ukulele give-aways, and flea market…..all at the Wine Country ‘Ukulele Festival at the Upper Valley Campus of the Napa Valley College, in St. Helena. (Admission $15. Children 12 and under free. Extra charge for ‘ukulele workshops.)

 

 

 

 

 

Obama, Ukulele and Time-Consciousness Altering- what a trip!

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Two weeks ago the President was in town.  My 15 year old girl and I got stuck in a blockade a few cars deep of an intersection where  police had halted traffic.  We sat in the car, unmoving, for about 40 minutes, giving thanks to the working AC as the car reported the temperature at 95 degrees.  At one point Oona got out, took pictures of the traffic to share on Snap Chat with her friends with the caption “Thanks, Obama!”. She took a photo of a helicopter.  Arbitrarily we decided was the one he was in.  “Look!  I see him!  HI OBAMA!” she shouted to the delicious irony speck of irony in the sky.

But then, finally, we watched the presidential motorcade pass: motorcycles,  police cars, official vehicles, and one thrilling Black Cadillac SUV with fancy flags right in the middle of the procession.  My smart, sassy girl whooped with excitement, and the stagnant pain was redeemed.

IMG_6944January may seem a long way out, but I know it will be here in the blink of an eye.  I am thrilled to invite you to a Ukulele and Cooking retreat in Mexico that I will be participating in, plus two other ukulele festivals.

 Minutes can last forever- especially when you are stranded on the road on a hot summer day, but the months and the years (especially the years) fly by….  I know this  adventure will be one of those that stops time, a week that lasts forever in memory.  That is what I love the most about travel, and ukulele retreats.  They have the same power as a presidential motorcade.  To slow time and create memories that last a lifetime.
WINE COUNTRY UKULELE FESTIVAL  Sept 4-7 Santa Helena, CA
ALBUQUERQUE UKULELE FESTIVAL  Sept 26-27th Albuquerque, NM
MEXICO! La Semana de UKE-CULINARIA Fiesta  January 24-31 2015  Ajijic, Mexico