The Matriarchy of Sauces

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)

Poached eggs in a polenta nest with red chili bearnaise. Mmmmm.

Poached eggs in a polenta nest with red chili bearnaise. Mmmmm.

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.

These two pages can save your life!

The secret to life, the universe and everything

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!

Reasons to take up SMOKING

Reason #1: Wardrobe.  You get a swell looking jacket and cravat, plus a jaunty hat!

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THE SMOKING JACKETS are (from left) Daniel Ward, Heidi Swedberg, Craig McClelland and John Bartlit. Craig is gigging in WI this summer, and will join us in November

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.

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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”.

All the beautiful photos in this post are by Allison Shallert, Allisonphoto.com

All the beautiful photos in this post are by Allison Shallert, Allisonphoto.com

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.)

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!)

Mya-Moe

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the lovely Char and Gordon Mayer at Reno Uke Fest. Photo by Craig Chee.

Daniel Ward and I are thrilled to be playing beautiful instruments hand built for us by Mya-Moe.  Mine is a myrtle wood (from within 50 miles of their shop) and ebony concert with a warm sweet tone, and Daniel’s is a loud and sassy miniature flamenco guitar made from sitka spruce with a rosewood back and sides and bloodwood binding.  The instruments are very different, but suit our playing styles and are especially beautiful played together.  We received them in January and have not put them down since.

For me, having an instrument which is so alive, crafted just for me, has inspired me to work harder- digging deeper into chord inversions and daring to lift a melodic voice.  Daniel’s instrument has allowed his own voice to rise.  Listen HERE to him playing at the Reno Ukulele Festival…(thanks Ivan Olarte for the video!)

We recently enjoyed spending time with Char and Gordon in Reno- sipping cocktails and talking all things uke and culinary, and I thought you might like to be introduced to these two lovely people, so we posed some questions to Mya-Moe:

When you offered to build me an instrument I had NO IDEA what wood to ask for.  My partner Daniel, however, knew EXACTLY what he wanted.  We ended up with instruments that have very different voices, but voices that sound beautiful together and match our needs as players. How did you do that?

Of course, this is the outcome that we’re always hoping for and working towards.  We work with each individual to-be owner to try to understand what they are looking for tonally and aesthetically.  Usually we can get a pretty good idea of what to build.

It’s actually much easier for us to work with someone like you (versus Daniel).  You were very open to a variety of sounds/looks, and I think you went into it with a very open mind.  We think of each instrument like a child–it will have the genes of the parents (our design & building), but it will also be unique.  So, the “easiest” to-be owners are people that understand this.

 Daniel had a pretty fixed idea of what he wanted.  That’s the hardest to deliver–try to make sure we get that right.  We do pretty well with that, but it did cause some restless nights 🙂

It's a love story- we LOVE our instruments!

It’s a love story- we LOVE our instruments! photo by James Barnett wetakenicepictures.com

Daniel loves the size of the tenor and I love the concert.  They seem a little smaller then other instruments we have played.  Do tell.

I think of the design of the instrument (size, top/back thickness, bracing, woods, soundhole area) as a “system” where everything works together to produce a given tone.  So it’s impossible to pull out one of those elements from one builder & try to apply it to another builder.  If we decided to build a larger bodied tenor, for instance, we would change many of those other parameters and still try to achieve the tone that we already have.

 When we designed the instruments, as an engineer, I tried to work with a body volume (cubic inches) that would produce the range of tones (low-g to 19th fret of the a-string) that we wanted to produce.  We tweaked it a bit to bring reality in line with theory.

Your string sets are custom and very specific.  Indulge our inner geek.  Tell us more.

Early on, strings were one of our biggest nightmares.  There are so many different types, brands & materials out there (unlike guitars).  In the beginning we stocked and experimented with all of them:  black nylon, clear nylon, fluorocarbon, nylgut.  But, it quickly became clear the the best strings for our instruments are fluorocarbon, with wound string(s) for the bass.  We worked with Worth and D’Addario to figure out the best “sets” for our instruments.

 The most challenging was the baritone set.  For our ears, no existing baritone set came close to the tone & feel we were looking for.  We wanted to bring out the warmth that the baritone is known for without sacrificing the treble.

We laughed at Reno about how the instrument ordering process ought to be like eating at Nobu, a fancy sushi restraunt where the diner trusts the chef.  Would you really like to do just that?

Yes!  We call it “luthier’s choice”.  We’ve now had 3 occasions where owners have given us carte blanche to design and build their next instrument.  It’s where we have the most fun.

A vary happy family of Mya-Moe owners (Craig Chee, photo)

A vary happy family of Mya-Moe owners (Craig Chee, photo)

Your shop is a very intimate operation, with just 3 of you involved from order to delivery.  Who does what over there?

There are actually 5 of us, which is the key to our building.  3 of us (me, Char & Aaron) work out of our main shop and build the final instrument.  But, we have two others:  Kerry Williams and Ben Bonham, who do “parts” that go into the instrument.  So, they do rough necks, fretboards, internal blocks/braces, joining of the top/back, profiling the sides, and “polishing” the top/back.  That allows aaron, char & me to focus on building the final instrument.  Char does all wood selection, thicknessing the top/back, and bending of the sides.  Aaron does all the bracing.  After that, at least two of us are trained on each operation.  

Besides building gorgeous instruments I hear rumors of epicurean delights.  Music be the food of love, and food is love’s music?  What’s on the menu?

Ha!  Cooking is our 2nd passion.  We joke that for Aaron, the greatest benefit of working at Mya-Moe is the lunch we make him everyday.  Lunch is really our dinner, so we go all out for that meal.  I think Aaron would tell you that our cooking has varied depending upon what new kitchen tool/appliance we’ve acquired.  Also, while we eat anything, we have a lot of guests with a variety of eating specificities:  vegan, gluten-free, etc.  So, we’ll vary it up as the needs require.

 A year ago we got an immersion circulator (check out “sous vide cooking”), and love to cook with that.  And then this year we got a smoker, so we’ve done a few briskets and racks of ribs.  Lately we’ve been into cured meats & salamis.

 And just yesterday we had a very successful morel mushroom foraging expedition on the slopes of Mt. Adams, so this week its “all morels, all the time”…

 

 

Into the Eye of the Storm

Truckin

Truckin

We are on the road again!

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!

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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.  

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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

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.

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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! 

Green Chili: The Final Frontier

Frontieer green on an In-N-Out double-double.  That's livin'!

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"!

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.

Alley Cat

Alley Cat

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.

I’ll tell you all about it, stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

Heading to CHINA!

Not in a slow boat, or a beautiful pea green one, but economy class.  The Ohanamobile goes transpacific!

Mug Shots!

Daniel and I are joining Louis Wu (owner) and Stephanie Turkal (office manager) of the Ohana Ukulele Co. at Music China Shanghai, the big trade show in China.  We will be playing in their booth and teaching workshops.  And, no doubt, EATING.  Man, I can’t wait to share the feasts in store!

Our teaching will focus on teaching teachers in China, where ukulele is a very new phenomenom.  We hope that the joy and ease of the little hatchet is not lost in translation!

Last week we stopped in to the Ohana HQ (warehouse) down in Long Beach to drop off our passports and fill out paperwork.  While we were there we made a little music video of  THE OWL & THE PUSSYCAT.  With a little help from our friends… Steph operated my IPhone while everyone else (Louis, Daniel Serna, head tech and Shannan Brown, asst. tech) kept on with their work and were unwitting extras.  Can I tell you one of the things I love about Ohana?  Watch the first few moments of the video and see the Owner, Louis, setting up instruments alongside his techs.  The simplest entry level ukes get a going over.  Everyone there works side by side.  Every time I go there we all sit down and eat lunch together.  It’s like the healthy family.  I guess that’s why Louis named the company “Ohana”, which means “family” in Hawaiian.

In preparation for the show we took some promo pics for a poster.

This time, with a paddle

We met up with John Nyboer  pre-dawn on foggy Sunday morning at a friend’s boat launch on the Venice canals.  John looked at me, incredulous.  “Is that a DIRNDL?” he asked.  To which I countered: “are those WATER SHOES and BOARD SHORTS?”.  Next thing you know I am punting the skiff down the drink and he’s in up to his knees.  If you’ve been to Venice (CA) and seen the canals first hand you are already impressed.  I only wish I had turned the camera around on him! (John also did great pics of our last big McCabes uke workshop in May!)

Speaking of McCabes- Daniel’s got a workshop there scheduled for when we return.  He will be sharing some of his crazy flamenco technique  in a 90 minute clinic called “Rock Your Right Hand” on October 20th at 2 pm.  Ukueles and guitars welcome!  These techniques can be used for all styles of playing, not just flamenco.  Check it out: here is a link to Daniel playing a folk song on ukulele.