Monday, September 20, 2010

Burning Uke 8 (2010) THE CELEBRATION (Part 3)

Jay Holiday's Burning Uke Sculpture in Full Flaming Glory!

There is anticipation Saturday afternoon as the sun starts to set. Sandor’s wife had written a vintage radio-style play and several people had gotten on stage to entertain those seated up along the slope. The play was about a stowaway woman and male uke playing waiter and had us all enjoying the retro feel of those young black and white Doris Day style silly movies. There were a few crooner moments and a hula dance for good course.

Then we move into a variety of musical performances. Some of these came directly from Carolee’s class earlier in the day. Some songs were from the Ukulele Club of Santa Cruz song books I and II. [Andy Andrews was on stage and said that there wouldn’t be a UCSC book III but that he is working on a new book I for his students in Hawaii. Andy mentioned that 20 ukuleles had been donated to the group by __________ ukulele company that he had seen the previous week at the Wine Country Ukulele Festival. Andy’s group in Hawaii was in need of their own instruments and he’s hoping to get some music stands, books and tuners from small donations from those who are able to contribute.]

Burning Uke also includes a ceremony. This was a new year and a new beginning. Andy and Pam Andrews had moved to Hawaii. Peter and Donna Thomas were travelling the country in their caravan. There was a void which Sandor, Marty, and Jay Holiday ably continued the tradition. Jay Holiday is a quiet guy behind the scenes. And there is a long story about Jay and his guitar friends meeting at this Burning Uke location several years before Burning Uke came into being. Jay and his musical friends get together here for Thanksgiving each year and celebrate. One year Pam and Andy were camping and walked by the musical festivities carrying their ukuleles… There is more to the story but this was the spark which led to the Burning Ukes.

[Some of you that have followed my personal journey over the last two years know that I was driving 82 miles to Santa Cruz for a ten class course with Rhan Wilson last year. Jay and his very good friend Robbie were in the class too. So I have had the pleasure of getting to know Jay, his sense of humor, his jukebox mind-full-of-memorized songs and his devotion to music in his life.]

There were tiki torches being lit by Robbie behind the mass of players. Soon a small procession of people came single file dancing and wiggling their torches and heading up to the front between the stage and all of the seated players. Much craziness ensued but finally the group of tiki torch holders assembled close to the large black steel ukulele sculpture and lit the flammable portions.As you can see it was a glorious image and the crowd roared at the flaming metal ukulele. The Burning Uke image you see was the brainchild and blacksmith work of Jay to create a new burning uke.

So how do you follow up the ceremony? Well you play more music until a proper musical cue was reached and Andy spoke, “Goodnight Ukulele Club of Santa Cruz” about 10:30pm. Some headed off for sleep and others head upwards towards the firepit and played until about 1:00am. Yes, the firepit music time is essential for the die-hards. Some songs were played by heart, or by music book, or shared song sheet. Andy in his infinite wisdom dazzled us with his singing to a one chord song played solely in Eb.

I am hoping to find a few pictures or videos of this evening to share.

Robbie (L), Jay (Behind), Jeff aka HU (R)


  1. Work on getting syncronized Burning Ukes at various spots around the world for next year, Jeff. Get Craig to head the East Coast Burning Uke; Al, the English Burning Uke; Armelle, the French Burning Uke...All over the planet at the same time, ukers chanting and ukes burning...

  2. when is Burning Uke again

  3. Burning Uke is an annual event. Held sometime in the middle of September. Send me an e-mail and I'll get you the exact dates. There's also a get together called Smoldering Uke coming up somewhere in March. I have heard it is a great time too.