Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Happy Play Your Ukulele Day!

Thanks to Jim D'Ville for reminding me that today, May 2, is National (International?) Play Your ukulele Day. He mentioned it on his blog. I'm not sure who started this but I'm glad they did. Jim linked to a post here, but I don't think that is the origin. There's also a Facebook page here, but again, I'm not sure if that where things started. Well, no matter where this fun little day started I hope you're enjoying it and, more importantly, playing your ukulele. I played a little 'Puff the Magic Dragon' on my uke today. What did you play?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Dia de los Ukuleles

Dia de los Muertos, the Mexican Day of the Dead, is an important part of Southern California culture. Growing up I would see sugar skulls in Mexican bakeries and gift shops. I always found them fascinating. It wasn't until high school that I began to grasp the significance of the holiday.

The indigenous people of Mexico have been honoring the dead for over 3,000 years. Original it was an Aztec practice that was celebrated during the ninth month of the Aztec calendar, approximately the month of August. Festivities were presided over by Mictecacihuatl, the goddess known as the "Lady of the Dead." Death was viewed as the continuation of life. To them life was a dream and only in death did they become fully awake.

Over 500 years ago the Spanish Conquistadors tried to remove the practice from the local culture. Needless to say, old habits die hard and they were fighting a losing battle. So they decided to compromise and move the celebration to All Saint's Day and All Soul's Day, Nov. 1 & 2.

Today the tradition is celebrated by many cultures here in Southern California. Altars at set up in art galleries and gift shops. Street parades featuring costumes and giant puppets are not uncommon. But let's not forget that it is a day to remember those whom we have loved who are no longer with us.

Monday, October 31, 2011


I've been busy this month with lots of projects and just realized I haven't drawn any thing on the chalkboard ukulele in quite a while. So, here's a little tribute to Halloween. I recently heard that more money is spent by consumers for Halloween supplies than is spent on Christmas gifts. I don't know if that's true or not but it is the one holiday where one can indulge oneself without having to feel guilty.

Halloween has its origins in the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, which is pronounced "sah-win." Large bonfires were lit to celebrate the end of the harvest season. The fires attracted bug which attracted bats. No doubt the bats were seen as evil spirits. Masks and costumes were worn to mimic or appease the evil spirits. Are things starting to make sense?

So, here's to all who celebrate this day in all its glory. And here's to all the kids that are just out there for sacks of candy.

Happy Halloween everyone!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Father and Son Ukesters Greg and Jonah Price

What does the UPS man do in his spare time? Well if you're Greg Price you make ukuleles. I first ran into Greg and his son Jonah while performing my magic show at Seaport Village. They were watching my show because Jonah is an aspiring magician. The fact that all three of us are ukulele players was just an added bonus. Seeing them again at the San Diego Ukulele Festival was a pleasant surprise. Greg is known for his cigar box ukuleles and for his gourd ukuleles. Cigar box ukes have been around for a long time. I've even built a few myself. But gourd ukuleles???!!! Greg is the only one I know of making 'em. And they sound wonderful! You can find out more about Greg's gourd ukuleles here and his cigar box ukuleles here. You're gonna love them!

Next up is Greg's talented son Jonah. Jonah and I share an interest in magic. In fact it was after watching my show that we first met. Then he saw my ukulele case sitting next to my show rig. What are the odds of meeting someone who shares your interest in both magic and ukes? Jonah was a member of the Magic Castle Junior Magicians. He is also one talented musician. Playing guitar and piano as well as the ukulele he's a triple threat. You can hear his music over at his YouTube channel here. And, if you're looking to add a little magic to your day you can see some of Jonah's magic at his YouTube channel here. Thanks Jonah and Greg for being part of the chalkboard ukulele experience. I'll see you on the streets!

Fred Shields Ukuleles

While strolling around the San Diego Ukulele Festival I heard a voice call out, "Hey, aren't you a magician?" It was none other than San Diego uke maker Fred Shields. Fred is a one-of-a-kind ukulele craftsman. In addition to the standard soprano, concert, and tenor models he also makes Tahitian, oval, triangle, teardrop, paddle, backpacker, and banjo models. His banjo model is all wood instead of having a skin head. It reminds me of the old Gretsch Camp Ukes. He's also the guy who made the custom ukulele Boone plays. You can find his ukes at my favorite guitar shop, Moze Guitars over in La Mesa. Do yourself a favor and head over to Fred's facebook page and see the interesting ukuleles he's made. You just might end up asking him to make a custom one for you!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Tiki Oasis - Let's Tiki

Is there tiki in Wisconsin? There is if you know where to look! And the place to look is Let's Tiki. I had the pleasure of meeting Randy and Damon at the Zen Tiki Lounge podcast at Tiki Oasis. Damon, the guy on the right, is the tiki genius who runs It's a great source for tiki information. You'll find tiki bars listed by state, province, and country. For the record, Florida leads the nation with 25, closely followed by California with 24. But Wisconsin has a very respectable 2, make that 3 if you count the one in Damon's basement. But wait there's more, you will also find "all of the latest tiki headlines in one place" and a bar-load of great cocktail recipes including the Milwaukee Mai Tai.
To make one fill your cocktail shaker with:
1 cup crushed ice
2 oz. Roaring Dan's Rum
1/2 oz.Cointreau
1/2 oz. fresh lime juice
1/2 oz. Orgeat syrup
Shake well, until the outside of the shaker is frosted. Pour unstrained into a cocktail glass. By the way, Roaring Dan's Rum is made in Wisconsin by the Great Lakes Distillery. It is distilled from pure sugarcane molasses and Wisconsin maple syrup. Sounds yummy!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tiki Oasis - Zen Tiki Lounge

I really enjoy listening to podcasts and one of my favorites is Zen Tiki Lounge. Sunshine and the Ladies of the Lounge spend an hour chatting and sipping cocktails for our listening pleasure. For the past two years I've been invited to be a part of the podcast live from Tiki Oasis. Sunshine, Kalani, and Starshine (from left to right) are wonderful hosts. Starshine redecorates his hotel room to look like a tiki bar, serves a couple of exotic cocktails of his own invention, plays a round or two of 'What's in Kalani's Bra' (which for the past two years my wife has won, um, not the bra but the contest) and generally makes us all feel very welcome. I'm honored to have all three host add a little something to the chalkboard ukulele. Check out the podcast here Zen Tiki Lounge. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.