Oops- the flier has the wrong date! Haha! I’ll fix that soon, but for now, take my word for it, it’s SUNDAY THE 17th of NOVEMBER!!!!
William Butler Yeats’ third quatrain of “The Lake Isle of Innisfree” (see below) talks about going to a happy place which exists in the “deep heart’s core”. His Innisfree, an uninhabited island filled with happy childhood memories is my Kailua beach. The iornwood burrs and the half-flowers of naupaka, the view of Popoi’a (Flat Island), a cup of black Lion Coffee from the Kalapawai Market at sunrise, the curve of the shore and the color of the water comes back with all the smells and sounds in need to take me far away from the maddening crowd. It’s the place I go in my mind when I when I need to find peace. I pick up my ukulele for that same reason; the practice of music is a place where “peace comes dropping slow “.
This spring, Daniel and I will visit the island of Molokai for the first time. I will be teaching a songwriting class at the Uke Ohana Molokai Retreat, April 5-9. Besides basic u’kulele techniques and song form, we will talk poetry: Ancient Hawaiian, contemporary, classical. Not every song has words, but poetry influences all songs, for poetry is the distillation of thought as music is the essence of feeling. It can be as naughty as a limerick, as simple as a haiku, or epic as the Aeneid.
Please join us as we immerse into Hawaiian culture and the beauty of the land. Breathing deep the warm, moist air filled with green and blue, letting softness and color return to the pavement grey of the city bleached mind. Finding a new happy place to arise and go to.
The Lake Isle of Innisfree
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.
I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.
If hollandaise is the mother sauce of French cuisine, red chili sauce must be the madre of New Mexican food. When Old World meets New World magic happens- breakfast fit for El Rey! (recipe follows)
I am looking forward to the cooking element of our Santa Fe adventure as much as the music! First thing we will cook will be both red and green chili sauces. And I’ll be putting recipes and songs and photos together into a book. I hope you will reserve a seat at the table!
Even if you are not staying with us at the Inn, you can join in- there is a walk-in option on the registration form, and soon we will open individual workshops to registration. (if you want to be first in line for the open registration I suggest you subscribe to the Ukulele Adventures blog post.)
And everyone is welcome at the public events, including a full-on Flamenco show at El Meson on Wednesday November 4th, and the Smoking Jackets Giant Show at Tiny’s on Friday November 6th. Or come enjoy hearing the participants play at the Farmer’s market on Saturday morning or at La Choza Saturday night!
Full disclosure- the title of this post is the chapter heading from The Making Of A Cook by Madeleine Kamman. That’s the book which made me a cook. Everything I know about eggs, cakes and sauces comes from the 1971 edition of this book. I give it as a high school graduation present to every kid I know, as I think learning to cook a good omlette can save your life. My copy is held together by tape, nostalgia and love, and I still consult it every time I make crepes.
My hollandaise recipe has become somewhat free-form, but you can accomplish something like the sauce shown in the photo above if you try this:
Wisk 3 egg yolks into a cup of cold, good NM red chili sauce, add a little lemon zest and a tablespoon of lemon juice. Over a medium flame wisk constantly. Add 3 or 4 tablespoons of COLD butter. The butter will melt as the chili and eggs come to temperature and you will have a no-fuss emulsified sauce. Pour over poached eggs nestled onto an english muffin or polenta or spinach…to make a NM Benedict. Or serve with fish or asparagus.
Just be sure to make enough for me, because once I hear you are making it I may show up on your doorstep- Or- join us in Santa Fe and I’ll make it for you!
Reason #1: Wardrobe. You get a swell looking jacket and cravat, plus a jaunty hat!
The Smoking Jackets are hitting the road in trio formation- John Bartlit, Daniel Ward and I will presenting the first Rocky Mountain Ukulele Festival in Durango, Colorado. We have a great day of workshops planned, starting Friday July 10th with our “song of the year”, Silly Love Songs. The next day will be filled with classes: 3 sessions of 3 classes, offering a beginning, intermediate and advanced class each session. (I wish I could take John’s ukulele percussion class!)
Reason #2: Smoking is good for you. When you are doing it on an instrument, that is.
At the end of summer John will be coming out our way and we three will head up to the Wine Country Ukulele Festival together for four days of ukulele fun, September 10-13. We will be teaching, performing and doing all things ukulele, including a public show at Velo Vino on Sunday afternoon, September 13. The festival in Wine Country is everyone’s favorite because, well…wine. Ukulele. ‘Nuff said!
We are working out details for a show or two in Los Angeles before John flies back to New Mexico, and will update the schedule with that soon.
Reason #3: It makes you seem sophisticated. That’s our motto- “Sophisticated, Educated, Medicated”.
In November all four of us will come together in beautiful Santa Fe, New Mexico for the New Uke-Culinary Fiesta. Highlights of this event include two public shows, one for the Smoking Jackets and a full-on flamenco show. There will be great workshops in a beautiful setting, plus we will be teaching cooking classes focusing on combining New Mexican and classic European dishes. Old world meets new- or as we like to call it, Nuevo Mundo. And there will be big-time BBQ- our other favorite way to SMOKE!
(For the record, none of us are smokers, nor do we endorse the use of tobacco. We’re just in it for the costumes.)
When I was a second-camera assistant I occasionally loaded mags- that is put the film in to the mickey mouse ears. Ironically, film no longer exists on most film sets. Co-incidentally, neither do I. It is debatable if movies are the better for the shift from film, but as to my own personal happiness, I can tell you I am the better for shifting away from it.
But I have not left the magazine behind entirely- I now find myself loading up its uke homonym: Ukulele Magazine. Last year I was surprised to see my mug on the front cover, and this issue lands me in the contents again. I really like how the magazine has grown, getting better with each issue- more pictures, sophisticated writing, clean editing and great lessons. Just in time for the growing community it serves.
I enjoyed a long conversation with writer and musician October Crifasi about kids and ukes, and lots of our chat is in her article, as well as a bunch of photos from a workshop I taught in Phoenix a few years back. The attendees were the beautiful people from Global Family Philanthropy, the folks Daniel and I went to Haiti with. Photogenic Junau who is from Haiti and now studying in the US takes up some prime real estate!
Last week a crew from Ukulele Magazine came up to the West Coast Ukulele Retreat, one of the most fun and picturesque of uke events. Shutters were clicking and they even videotaped our dining hall flash mob. Looking forward to seeing what lands in the next issue!
This weekend I am heading east for Ashokan Ukulele Festival. Join us if you can! There are still spaces in the workshops, or you can attend just the concert Saturday night, with performances by all the instructors, including Paul Hemmings, Gerald Ross and Joel Ekhaus, Marcy Marxer… playing with the big kids! Click here for discounted advance tickets.
And a recording session for the coloring book and another new project in the works! No rest for the wicked!
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.
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.
Flour tortillas were filled and rolled with the heavenly stuffing, but instead of frying…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!
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!
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.
If you have read every blog post I have ever written you might recognize Craig McClelland as part of the Sukey Jump Band, Vespus and Skumbaag, however I am excited to introduce him in a new light- as a uke teacher and member of the Smoking Jackets. Craig is, you see, a man of many talents!
We are getting the jackets tailored for some shows at the beginning of November, and Craig will be flying out from his beautiful home in Sturgeon Bay, WI for music making and teaching in California.
First stop- McCabes Weekend Ukulele Warriors, November 1st, noon.
The next day we will be joined by John Bartlit, the forth (and yet unphotographed member) of the Smoking Jackets. We have two shows on Sunday- the first is and 11 am Sukey Jump show at McCabes, the second is the 3 pm benefit at the Coffee Gallery in Altadena.
Here is a little about Craig and what he will be teaching at McCabes:
Those Problem Chords – D Major and E Major (and more).
As a beginning ukulele player you find yourself facing many challenges. You find yourself asking how do I tune my uke, do I really look good in a bowtie, and just how do I pronounce ukulele anyway. Playing chords is just another of these challenges and just as you are getting a pretty good handle on how to play such common chords as G Major, C Major, F Major and A Major and are getting pretty good at switching between them, along come two chords that strike fear in the heart of every beginning ukester– D Major and of course, the dreaded E Major. In this workshop Craig McClelland will help you find ways to approach these most feared of chords – fingering variations, different voicings, and even out and out “cheats” that you can use at your next uke jam until you do master the preferred voicings – all while learning a couple of easy songs and having a fun time. If all goes well, we may even examine a few more common problem chords (although the decision to wear a bowtie is left completely to you).
Craig McClelland is a professional musician (bass, guitar, ukulele, and tuba) and instructor with over 30 years’ experience, presently working with the American Folklore Theatre and the Peninsula Players Theatre in Door County, Wisconsin. Craig has taught music publicly and privately over the last 20 years after having studied bass at Musician’s Institute in Los Angeles, as well as earning a BA in Music at University of New Mexico and an MA in Humanities from California State University – Dominguez Hills. He has been pleased to share his music with students of all levels, having taught in elementary schools, universities and all levels in between.
In addition to his teaching and theatre work, Craig can be seen around the country in such diverse ensembles as the Vespus Marimba Band, the Sukey Jump Band, Crossing 32nd Street, the Links Ensemble, The Gazebo Guys, and America’s only heavy-metal vaudeville troupe, Skumbaag. In 2012, Craig was honored when Skumbaag was chosen as Ensemble in Residence for the University of New Mexico International Composers Symposium, featuring a wide range of his music, including selections from his original musical, The Lubbock Lights.
When not performing, Craig likes to be with his family in Door County and uses the time for songwriting, playwriting as well as substitute teaching band, choir, and theatre in the public schools. He can frequently be found doing workshops such as this one.
Craig would also like to thank the fine folks at McCabe’s for this opportunity to share his love of ukulele with your community.
Both of the fine photos of Craig were taken in PHX by James Barnett WeTakeNicePictures.com
This last lousy one was taken by me
I do love to cook. And bake. And travel . And make music….
And now that I have been granted my dream job combining my three favorite things- travel, cooking and music I have become a food pornographer. Every time I cook (which is about 3 times a day) the phone camera comes out. There have been a stream of shameless posts on the facebook page for the retreat in Mexico coming up in January.
This morning was the first day of school for some in my house. Occasion enough- Let’s bake!
I must be honest- I lost my taste for sweet things long ago: I am nonplussed by pies, I scoff at scones, cake and candy leaves me cold. But these blueberry muffins are different. Although the recipe card modestly bears another woman’s name, these are My Mother’s Muffins and these are my madelines. When the smell wafts into my memory I am filled with a sense of well being. All is right with the world. They were made when we had sleepover guests, or church functions, or on special mornings. There were never any leftovers. The tops, sugar crusted and golden brown were glorious. The bottoms of each muffin would be examined thru their festive paper cups to determine which had the most blueberries. Steaming hot halves were smeared with margarine from the little yellow tub. Greedy stacks of empty muffin papers grew along side our breakfast plates, three or four pastel circles high, stained with fragrant crumbs and purple juice, attested to the muffin’s irresistible powers.
There was a time when I would substitute whole grain flower for the white stuff and reduce the sugar. Meh. These days I go all the way. This morning I was out of oil and used softened butter instead, (Margarine never made the journey from my mother’s pantry to mine) and I think that change may be a keeper.
Try these for a brunch or a gift if you are looking to increase your popularity. They are simple, fast and easy. You may have to double- or triple – the recipe.
1/3 cup oil (or softened butter)
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup blueberries
Beat oil, milk, egg, vanilla and sugar together. Sift flour, baking powder and salt together, then stir into egg mixture. Gently fold in blueberries. Line cupcake tins with papers or grease tins. Fill each with 1/4 cup batter. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon sugar over each muffin. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until golden topped. Serve warm or cold, with or without butter. Makes 10-12 muffins.
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!
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.
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.
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. 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!)
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.
January 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.