Monday, September 21, 2009

BURNING UKE VII - Ukulele Club of Santa Cruz

Jay Holiday Photo (Donna, Sandor, Pam, Peter)
(also pictured: Burnin' Uke VII)

1) The drive and the ocean: The only way to get there is by taking California highway 1 along the coast. I passed thru Monterey and Carmel as I headed South. The views of the ocean, beaches, waves, rocks, and coastline are just unbeatable. It is worth making the drive just for the views.
2) Big Sur - Plaskett Creek: Plaskett Creek was surprisingly about 45 minutes South of Big Sur. I made it to the campgrounds just as Rhan Wilson was ready to hike down to the beach about 1/2 hour away. There was some hiking down and the a 92 step stairway down to a pristine beach, probably a half mile long in an arc. Our friends Jay, Robbie of the Uklectics were enjoying spotting starfish on the rocks at low tide. And just a short while later Uklectic Butchy-Bob was in his wet suit carrying a surf board and giving it a go. There were some 100 foot tall rocks standing tall and close enough to wade up to and climb.
3) The people, the site, and food: The people of the Ukulele Club of Santa Cruz (UCSC) are THE MOST welcoming, friendly and charitable. The cost was $35 whether you spend 1, 2, 3 or 4 days. The comraderie and willingness to share in the chores of a campsite was exemplary. Sue Graziano generously welcomed me to share in some food and hospitality and I asked if I could be part of the kitchen cleaning crew.
There were people from all over California (North and South) and even 'Play Uke by Ear' Jim D'Ville from Portland, Oregon. The High Desert Ukulele Club brought anothr song book with about 80 songs not in UCSC's Book 1 or Book 2. Mary, Carrie, & Gary from Clint's Ukulele Strummers. Oh Susanna from somewhere down South sang "Down by Mexico Way"
I saw a sign for Petalukes which I think was from Petaluma. The newly founded Monterey Ukulele Club was there. I was there to represent the Berkeley Ukulele Club that get's together at Mike DaSilva's studio.
4) Spontaneous Music & Other Instruments: Something quite interesting is the number of people that played other instruments - Andy Andrews and his bluesy saxophone. Peter and his harmonica. Donna's spoons and hand percussion. But there was a man that played great guitar and sang with a voice that challenged Tom Waits for the amount of sand in his vocal chords - that's a compliment. There was also a man playing a big fat Mariachi style bass guitar. Two small accordians were played. Upright bass, bass guitar, and upright galvanized washtub bass. Oh and about 100 ukes. If you weren't eating, cleaning, or sleeping there was no reason that you couldn't be playing music. Small groups would gather and dispurse.
5) Ukulele Strum Alongs - Friday Evening: About 4-5 hours of being entertained and people getting up to the mic solo or en masse for the evening crowd.
6) Saturday Consecutive Hourlong Classes (All gratis, free uke love & good knowledge):
a) Marty -- Chords
b) Jan -- Beginning Harmonica
c) Sandor -- Strumming
d) Rhan Wilson -- Performance
e) Peter -- Movable chords
f) Andy Andrews -- Playing blues on the ukulele
7) Burning Uke VII - Celebration -- I'll save this for another post!
8) Sunday Morning Gospel: It has become a tradition that after Sunday morning breakfast that there's a ukulele gospel song hour or so lead by Rhan Wilson. Many tradition christian heritage classics. Playing Amazing Grace on the uke with the people that you've spent a few days getting to know and sharing just puts a bit of spirit and closure to the Burning Uke festivities.
Well, there's a lot written here but there's no way to really fully describe it. You just need to go to Burnin' Uke VIII. Andy says the campground is already reserved for next year. SEPT 16-19.


  1. The gathering of the ukulele tribes to once again sing to the Uke gods. It's Good!

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  3. You win some, ukulele some.September 23, 2009 at 9:11 AM

    Nice telling of the happy scene. Juz remember — UCSC has nothing to do with either the Santa Cruz Ukulele Club or Burning Uke. The club is self-supporting, self-generating, and self-directed, and owes its success to the good hearts and hard work of its founders and members.

  4. The Ukulele Club of Santa Cruz shares the same acronym as the University of California at Santa Cruz. The clubs motto is a playful, tongue-in-cheek, 'The UCSC where you get a REAL education.'

  5. Sounds like a great time! I think my son would love it, as would I. (I would have to try some of the hand percussion, ie: clapping my hands, as I don't do well with instruments.) However, this happens during marching band season. So, at least for the next two years (until he finishes high school), he will not be able to participate.

    I was wondering, is this not an activity that Wendy shares with you? I don't hear much mention of her in your posts.


  6. There have been some recent sitings of Wendy at some ukulele evens. Rhan Wilson's Altared Christmas show at the Rio in Santa Cruz, Rhan's music party and recently Jane's Hum and Strum at the Berkeley Yacht Harbor.

  7. It was nice to meet you at BUVII. I'll be there next year!
    Jim D'Ville