Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sketch Pals

Once a month I get together with these wonderful ladies to sketch in San Diego's beautiful Balboa Park. From left to right is Kathy, Diane, Rachel and Sara. Since Sara is a fellow ukulele player I thought it would be fun to bring the chalkboard ukulele with me on this month's outing. Sara was quite upset that I was going to eraser her entry on the chalkboard ukulele. So, I decided to wait until she was gone to erase it.

Personally, I've found a somewhat perverse pleasure in saying, "Thanks for drawing on the ukulele, that was great!" and then erasing it right then and there. Diane, on the other hand, was totally with it and decided to draw some flowers on the uke for her artist trading card blog. Inspired by the Noah Scalin's skull-a-day blog she has decided to do an artist trading card everyday for a year! Check it out here And, if any of you are interested in sketching with us you can find out more at San Diego Sketch Crawlers over at Yahoo Groups. On a related note, Jane LaFazio, who started the SD Sketch Crawler group, recently asked my wife if if the chalkboard ukulele was playable or just a chalkboard. Well, it is playable. But, it's not all that in tune due to it's budget construction. More later!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Ukulele Virtuoso James Hill

While at the San Diego Ukulele Festival Mike DaSilva was nice enough to introduce me to the talented James Hill. Hailing from Langley, British Columbia, Canada (check out the maple leaves on the ukulele) Ukulele James began playing the uke as a school boy. It was mandatory in many Canadian schools. How cool is that? As a teenager he honed his skills as a member of the Langley Ukulele Ensemble. He then went on to co-author the book Ukulele in the Classroom with J. Chalmers Doan, the very teacher that pioneered the use of the ukulele to teach music to Canadian school children. But that's just the back story. His real talent is his playing and composing. Rafe Mair of Vancouver's 600Am has called him "one of the world's top composer for the ukulele and probably the best player on the planet." His YouTube videos have had over 150,000 views. He's constantly in demand for for concerts and music festivals. If you know about the ukulele then you know about James Hill. If you need to know more you can find it at his website and you can see his custom tenor ukulele over at DaSilva Ukuleles. And, as James like to say, "Uku-Lel-Eh!"

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Ukulele Luthier Michael DaSilva

While at the San Diego Ukulele Festival I reintroduced myself to Berkeley ukulele maker Mike DaSilva. I met Mike several years ago at another uke fest here in town. Mike took the time to sketch a nice beach scene complete with palm trees and hammock. Unfortunately, I took the photos in the bright sun and most of the detail isn't visible. Sorry Mike. Have you heard about DaSilva Ukuleles? His ukuleles are amazing works of art and craftsmanship. I had a chance to strum a few jazz chords on his prototype archtop ukulele. Absolutely fantastic! Every instrument he builds is top of the line. His ukuleles range from traditional Hawaiian and mainland models to whimsical and artistic to innovative bamboo and carbon fiber ukuleles. And he's a big supporter of the ukulele scene in the Bay Area. His ukulele workshop hosts concerts and ukulele lessons. In addition to being one of the most creative ukulele makers, Mike is also an all around nice guy. He was very helpful in arranging a couple of guest artists for the chalkboard ukulele. Thanks Mike. Please take a little time and check out the amazing DaSilva Ukuleles at

Saturday, July 16, 2011

San Diego Ukulele Festival

Dateline San Diego - I spent a wonderful day at the San Diego Ukulele Festival. I got things started by checking in with festival organizer Jan Hatch. She was kind enough to use the chalkboard ukulele to help promote the event. With an all star line up that include headliners Jake Shimabukuro and James Hill, as well as Ukulele Bartt, Derick Sebastian, Fred Thompson and the Ukulele Orchestra of Southern California, Uncle Dave, James D'Ville, Sarah Maisel, Ukulele Ray, Ronnie Seno, Brad Norris, Erich Blase and Bassman Mike, the Kalama Brothers and Mitch Chang there was a great assortment of music to listen to. There were also quit a few ukulele vendors there as well. Whether one was an experienced ukulele veteran or a first time strummer there was a ukulele wait for you to play. I avoided UAS, ukulele acquisition syndrome, and left with a DVD of The Mighty Uke and a Rhythm Ring for my strumming hand. Liberty Station (the former Naval Training Center) was a great venue for the event. The large grassy mall and the sea breeze made for a wonderful time. Although I couldn't spend as much time at the festival as I would have liked, I did manage to get a few guest artists to pose with the chalkboard ukulele. I'll be posting more updates as I have time to write them. Stay tuned, I think you will enjoy what's coming up. In the mean time, check out the San Diego Ukulele website to see what you missed. And, bookmark their site so that you will be ready for the 2012 festival.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

David Kamatoy - Entertainer, Entrepreneur, E-Marketer, and Ukester!

I've know David Kamatoy for decades. When he was in high school he used to come out and watch me and my fellow buskers perform in Balboa Park. Soon enough he had a show of his own and was juggling in the park, too. Later he went on to be a popular member of San Diego's musical theater scene. In addition to being San Diego's best comedy juggler, David is also an innovative entrepreneur. By using his performance background as a starting point he offers a variety of unique marketing services. From email marketing to video blogging to custom presentations David's Kamatoy Media Group is at the forefront of social media. In addition, he is also an avid ukulele player. I'm pleased to say that I gave him his first uke, which was so cheap that it caused him to quickly upgrade to a Kala tenor ukulele. David, thanks for being a good friend and for being part of the chalkboard ukulele project. And, if any of you are interested in contacting David he can be found at and