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”…

 

 

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Weekend Ukulele Warriors schedule thru June 21

Every Saturday at NOON it’s a fresh festival-style ukulele workshop on an intimate scale.  After teaching really big classes in Reno it’s great to switch gears and get one-on-one (or two on three) with people.

Todays fresh crop of Warriors

Todays fresh crop of Warriors

Here is the schedule thru the end of June…

5/10 WHAT THE PLUCK?! With Heidi Swedberg and Daniel Ward All levels are invited to learn plucking patterns. Simple and beautiful ways to give dimension to accompaniments, great tool for songwriting.

RAFFLE FOR KALA TRAVEL TENOR AT THE END OF CLASS!!!!

 5/17 NO CLASS (We’re gigg’in!)

5/24 Tiptoe Thru the TULIPS It’s the Song that broke the ukulele! We are going crazy and resurrecting the song made tabu in the uke world by Tiny Tim. Not only do we have a heartfelt appreciation for his artistic courage, but we also agree that it’s a GREAT song with really cool changes and takes well to jazzy chord voicings.

5/31 WEST COAST UKULELE RETREAT Come find us in Asilomar! NO CLASS

6/7 UKULELE BUILDING BLOCKS Daniel Ward reprises his ever popular techniques class. If you have taken this before, don’t worry- he will teach you the next level of tricks and exercises to get you playing better, faster and more comfortably.

6/14 Here’s your chance to learn a great jazz number- why not take ALL OF ME ? It’s a great song, for your repertoire. Simple structure and chords that can get as complicated as you are ready for.

6/21 FLAMENC-A-LELE with Daniel Ward Classical Spanish guitar songs and strums for the ukulele

6/28 NO CLASS (We are in Santa Fe for a very special wedding!)

Weekend UKULELE Warriors  Saturdays, 12:00 at Mc Cabes Guitar Shop, $40        Sponsored by KALA Brand

Another fine photo by James Barnett http://wetakenicepictures.com

Another fine photo by James Barnett http://wetakenicepictures.com

WE’LL GIVE YOU SOMETHING TO CRY ABOUT!

Reno Uke Fest and the Ohana Bass

The last song... with everyone on stage!

The last song… with everyone on stage! Photo by Ivan Olarte

“How many instruments do you need?” the flight attendant asked as we boarded the plane with a guitar, the Ohana bass and two ukuleles.  The honest answer was more then we can cary on, as we had an additional re-enterant uke checked as baggage.  And of course my shakers.  If I had hands free I might have snapped a shot of us filling the overhead bin.  But honestly, beats schlepping a cello or two!

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Cell Phone star Daniel Ward teaches Sevillanas. 70 cell phones and one still camera- thank you Ivan Olarte

The festival was fabulous.  Smooth organization, happy workshops, collaborations with friends, and a great venue with great sound and a great crew.  Makes life mighty easy and sweet.

DaSilva Flamenca

Michael Da Silva has a little flamenca in him. Literally. Photo by Craig Chee

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Flamenquitas Olé! Photo by Deborah Haight

 

carrot girl

Catskills always kill with Gerald Ross. Photo by Craig Chee

and that theatre…

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Daniel and the Ohana bass were on stage most of the night, doing songs in our set, including “Play That Funky Music, White Boy” ( he would be the boy) and Gerald Ross played it for a few of our songs.  Daniel brought it back out for a bunch of songs in the second set with Craig Chee and Sarah Maisel.   The next night Jason Arimoto played the fretless version for Daniel Ho. Ohanabass Daniel

It’s a sweet axe, and Daniel’s made a video to tell you all about it- click HERE for his review.

Jim D'Ville proves there's no wrong way to play it!  Photo by Craig Chee

Jim D’Ville proves there’s no wrong way to play it! Photo by Craig Chee

This weekend: McCabes for ALL AGES (with DYLAN DUPRE!)

Just back from the PHENOMENAL Reno Ukulele Festival! What a fantastic time we had!  (More on that in the next post)   Now we are all fired up to jump right back in to teaching ukulele to all ages here in Los Angeles at McCabes. (OK, Santa Monica… but close enough!)

Dylan:Reno

We loved working with our friends Craig and Sarah, and we hope to welcome them back to Weekend Ukulele Warriors as soon as they can fit it into their very busy schedules.  I’m still working through the chord substitutions from the handouts in the last workshop they led.  Our new friend and colleague,  Dylan, pictured here in photos from Reno,  is a killer player and has the best Bb you have ever seen. He will teach you how to play it HERE, and you can listen to his first song HERE.   These are AWSOME videos-  Go Dylan GO!  Maybe we can schedule a date for you to teach at McCabes soon!  It is your birthday on Thursday, after all.  Don’t put it off another year!

Because we are bopping around  we will have some rather irregular dates for the new UKULEAR FAMILY class, and a new time to boot!  If you are interested but know you will be unable to attend a class in the series don’t let that deter you- we would be happy to prorate for you.

UKULEAR FAMILY is an all-ages class, 4 Saturdays, May 3, 10, 24th and June 6, 1:30 PM.  Kids under 8 are $50, and require a participating adult.  Adults are $110.  You don’t have to have a kid to attend, but it helps if you can act like one!

The Weekend Ukulele Warriors series continues on Saturdays at noon.  This week Daniel and I teach an intro Nashville System and the following week we teach plucking patterns to juice up your playing.  We are just about to draw the lucky winner of a Kala Travel tenor uke from the names of workshop attendees, so come to class and get your name in- maybe you will be a winner, like Dylan!

Speaking of McCabes and ukulele… in a few weeks the lovely Louise Goffin will be singing and playing her 4 strings at McCabes!  Come catch her show at 8 pm May 17th. Get your tickets HERE

 

 

New CD: My Cup Of Tea

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Ladies and gentelmen…..             Our official release date is September 10!
We have CONCERT DATES to announce, too!
September 6,7,8    WINE COUNTRY UKULELE FESTIVAL
                      Santa Helena, CA
September 22        McCABES GUITAR SHOP
                      11 am    Santa Monica, CA
September 29        ABBOTT KINNEY FESTIVAL
                      3:15 pm    Venice CA
October 13              DRAGONFLY DuLOU
                      11:30 am    Los Angeles
October 19, 20        DESCANSO GARDENS
                       11 am   La Canada Flintridge (Los Angeles)
October 19th          THE TALKING STICK
                                    6 pm         Venice, CA
October 26th           OUTPOST PERFORMANCE SPACE
                                     11 am        Albuquerque, NM
We are absoloutly thrilled with how the CD came out and can’t wait for you to hear it!
Come out and join in on the fun!  We will be offering raffles and prizes and giveaways at all of our shows.
The CD will be available through CDBaby on the 10th, but (shhh! don’t tell) is already available via my website, SukeyJumpMusic.com
Chords and lyrics are available to download by clicking HERE

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.