Friday, February 20, 2009


{NOTE: Sometimes if you click the title above you will get a direct link to the site, try it!}
That's me in green, Carol in Blue.
19 FEB 09 -- Another evening at Bocci's Cellar. I have been travelling down to Santa Cruz for club meetings for about 2 years now. I don't make the trip when the weather is bad because I like dry roads when travelling thru the twisty roads leading from the Bay Area to Santa Cruz.

This time I made the trip with a friend, Carol (ukegal), who has played with the Royal Hawaiian Ukulele Band, come to Berkeley Ukulele Club Meetings, and taken ukulele lessons from Hiram Bell just like me. This was Carol's first time to the club and she really enjoys the social atmosphere and frivolity of the ukulele celebration.

We got there early, like I always recommend, I imagine there's enough room for about 160 people. Bocci's Cellar fills up real fast. Bocci's creates a small dinner menu especially for the ukulele club meetings. There's beer, wine, soda, water too. There's usually a pasta dish, a really tastey looking chicken leg plate, and an eggplant lasagne!
The UCSC always has a social hour from 6pm to 7pm with dinners and drinks. This time is enhanced with some outstanding housebands that are made up of the many Santa Cruz musicians. Each month a new group of members gather to perform. This night President Peter and First Lady Donna had a group of 6 musicians that put on a fantastic show. I was really impressed with the amount of instruments on stage and the wonderful voices. The instruments were: resonator guitar, resonator banjo, african drum / ukulele, recorder / tin whistle / ukulele, harmonica / upright bass / guitar and baritone ukulele.
Here's a video taken between some people so you can't see (and appreciate) the whole band but you can get a feel for the energy. You see mainly Peter and Donna. I know it sounds like a revival ceremony - but I think the group was just singing some historical Americana.
Shortly after 7pm, the club passes out a few songs for play-and-sing alongs. Andy Andrews and Peter are on stage. Andy let us know about his hip replacement surgery, 2 weeks prior, and how he was asked not to show his scar. Quickly he dropped his pants to midthigh as proof and perhaps a bit more. There were 6 songs handed out tonight...
Mack the Knife (Kurt Weil)
Rhinestone Cowboy (Glen Campbell)
Bye Bye Blues (Fred Hamm, Dave Bennett, Bert Lown and Chauncy Gray)
The Harder They Come (Jimmy Cliff)
Sweet Caroline (Neal Diamond)
Runaround Sue (Dion)
After the songs, the special guest, Hiram Bell, performed. Both Carol and I have taken ukulele lessons from Hiram. He has incredible talent and showmanship. Standing in front of the club, keeping everyone's attention with his expert musicianship and singing. Hiram has such mastery over the ukulele. He easily switched from rock music to Hawaiian music to Classical Music. His hands move so quickly in his strumming and movements up and down the fretboard. He had several hula dancers eagerly dance while he played. His music is top notch and his charisma on stage is incredible.
(You don't get to see his stage persona here, just the brilliance of his hands!)

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