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Archive for November, 2004

Last Week’s Fabulous Heftones Performance

Tuesday, November 16th, 2004

Last Saturday, Brian and I performed at Altu’s Restaurant for a pretty packed house. It was delightful, because as usual the crowd was mostly friends and family.

Brian’s folks came in from Grand Rapids, and his dad sang one song with us. My Mom also brought a full table as usual, which was great fun. A few of them hadn’t been to Altu’s to see us play before and I’m always thrilled to have new folks come out.

Our friends (not in pictures) included folks I’ve mentioned here before: Regina, Ulyana, Cynthia and Bonnie, and Wally Pleasant came with his family which was really special, we don’t see them enough.

Also, Rob and Matt from Threadbear came with Matt’s mom, who was visiting from Georgia. It’s always fun singing to them.

Regina did us the favor of taking some photos while we were performing. This one shows us in true Moon June Spoon style… crooning our best! Thanks for taking over the camera, Regina! The photo of Mom’s friends I took. Left to right, you see Fred, Mom (Liz), Lillian, Lee, Esther and Barbara.

November ColorJoy Stole Class

Monday, November 15th, 2004

Just over a week ago (November 7) I taught a ColorJoy Stole class at Threadbear. I think there can’t be a more wonderful class to teach! Folks learn about color, yarn texture/structure, how to put dissimilar yarns together in pleasing ways, and how to fix mistakes in their knitting (an inevitable thing when you are working with “froofy” yarns).

I was honored and delighted that five students drove 4 hours (one way) to come to my class, and they were driving home that night. A one-day marathon from Ohio to Michigan and Back! I was so pleased to have them with me.

There were also two local folks in the class… Pat, who reads this blog but who I had not met before (now I realize she knows my dance friend Donna/Maya and my mother’s friend Lillian); and Irene who I’ve known ever since I picked up my knitting again almost 4 years ago.

Irene is a very accomplished sweater knitter, and it was extra-great to have her in my class. This was a sort of knitting she hadn’t done much of but she had some funky yarns and wanted to use them. We found a way to use them and her stole really took shape quickly. Hers is the first photo, in teal/turquoise/purple, which shows that she got an amazing amount of knitting done considering how much non-knitting content there is in this class. Isn’t her combination glorious?

I seem to have only six photographs of folks’ yarn choices. I know one woman did a second stole in mostly blacks, grays and whites, for her daughter, and I did not get a photo of that. But either I miscounted my students or I missed taking a photograph that I should have taken. Pooh! I get so wrapped up in explaining that I miss obvious things.

Yesterday (November 14), I taught a Basketweave Rug class at Yarn Garden. I did get photos but have not downloaded them from my camera. I’m catching up, though… slowly but steadily. I’ll get those up as well, when I can spare more time for photo editing.

Impossible to Catch Up

Sunday, November 14th, 2004

I just can’t fill you in on all the great things that have happened to me in the time since I have been back from Midwest Ukefest. I have taught a Pillow class and a ColorJoy Stole class (at Threadbear), and a Basketweave Rug class (at Yarn Garden). I have taught CityKidz Knit! I have taught a few computer classes to adults, and had two singing performances with Brian as The Fabulous Heftones.

I also have spent time with my friend Tony, two different days… one day having lunch and then going yarn shopping, and one day going to Spinners Flock guild in Chelsea an hour away. I just finished the mostly-alpaca stole for my friend who needs a hug, and am nearly finished with my own pillow that I get to keep. I haven’t knit a stitch on any sock in weeks, but I have promised my Goddaughter Sara that she will get some footies for her birthday which gives me about a week to get those going (I have started her pair three times but this third time looks promising).

I have spent a lot of time with my friend Altu in the last two weeks as well, which is wonderful for me. Just this weekend Brian and I performed at her restaurant, and we filled the restaurant, mostly with friends and family (Sharon P of Knitknacks, and Regina from Working Women Artists, were both there, as were my Mom and Brian’s parents). I love playing there!

Sunday I went to Working Women Artists, and there was a nice crowd there, all ages and a few new faces. That was great.

I have taken a ton of photographs since Halloween but I haven’t had time to sit and process them properly. I’m hoping I will at least get to show you pics of my knitting classes when I get a minute. For now, at least, you are a little bit updated.

We had three days in a row when it was almost impossible to stay connected to the Internet. We connect with a modem (dial-up) and we were lucky to stay online for more than 3 minutes before disconnecting. For some reason, last night it fixed itself. I suspect the phone lines, since we have two internet providers that both were acting this way. We even had two different computers trying to connect, and we had two different phone lines, all acting grumpy. I’m happy to have my connection back, for now anyway.

I’m happy, really… just very busy away from my desk. It is a high-class problem to be busy with work and other tasks I love. I’m not complaining, just explaining my relative absence. Pictures soon, I hope.

CityKidz Knit!

Wednesday, November 10th, 2004

Those of you who have followed this weblog for a while, know that during the school year I teach children to knit at Foster Community Center. This term has been sort of disappointing because it started pretty late in the fall. The kids just are not getting as many weeks with me as they will next term. I’m doing my best with what time I do have.

Here are two photos taken of the children with their projects, in the last two weeks. Whenever I wonder if I’m doing something that makes any difference… trying to work with kids a mere one hour a week (I have one group on Wednesday and another smaller group on Thursday, but both groups get only an hour… I just have to look at these photos to know the answer. Aren’t they beautiful? Just look at them smile! Look at them glow with pride!

We had many finished wristbands in the last few weeks. I wish I were sure the kids could knit without me, but in more than half of the cases this is not true. Yet a few of them take off and run with it. In the first photo here, the girl in front left with the variegated yarn, had just started that project when she got to class that day. In one hour, she knit the wristband and sewed it into a tube, and took it home. I am very happy when this sort of thing happens, as I can not expect it.

I learned to knit when I was in 5th grade. Most of these kids are younger than that. I did not do much with knitting until I was over 40. You never know what seeds you are planting, and how they will come to fruition. I do know that even if they don’t choose to knit again, I have treated them well and they got a little piece of my loving attention. I think that works, don’t you? (Just look at those faces!)

Pillow Class

Tuesday, November 9th, 2004

I had a pleasant pillow class at Threadbear. We had a very small class, just two students and me, but I am very glad I decided to go ahead with it. One student, Petra, has taken my rug class and we have chatted a good deal. I love her company and she loves mine… a sort of mutual-admiration society.

The second student, Mary, I had not met before. However, she reads this weblog (hi, Mary!) and wanted to meet me. I’m so glad she signed up.

The pattern I chose for this class was a Michelle Wyman pattern, knit in either garter or seed stitch from the corner, knit on the diagonal. It’s a really nice design, where you can add stripes or not, do one yarn or several, and you don’t need to know your gauge before you start. Gotta love that!!!

My sample was done in Lorna’s Laces fisherman wool, handpainted in sort of garden colors. Mary chose the same yarn but in beautiful variations of blues and related colors.

I did the back of my pillow first, and did it only in the wool yarn. I found it slightly boring because the colors were not quite as bright as I would prefer for myself (this pillow will become the property of Threadbear, so I chose colors others would like rather than my signature colors).

So… for the front of the pillow, I used Crystal Palace Fizz with the base yarn for the stripes as indicated by Michelle Wyman. She had something like 10 garter ridges in one yarn and then 3 ridges a second yarn, but I just added the Fizz to make it look like another yarn. Mary liked the look of texture, so she also chose a Fizz that was multicolored and it really worked great with her base yarn. Love it.

Now I’m knitting a pillow that is just for me, to keep. It’s Cascade Quattro (like 220 but the four plies are each a different color). It is in a sort of dark bluish-green with a taupe and soft green and gray. This yarn is absolutely gorgeous in garter stitch. (The prominent color in my yarn is the same as the dark green here in the pillow underneath Mary’s project.)

The yarn calls for a sweater-sized needle for a sort of drapey gauge (I think size 8) but I went down to a size 5 to get a nice firm, resilient fabric. I’m covering this green rectangular travel pillow, in preparation for an upcoming trip. It looks good so far. I finished the front piece and part of the back. I try to knit it in public but it requires increasing on every other row and so I often mess up and have to rip out. I am enjoying it, anyway. I’ll show you a photo when I have it finished.

Gift Coat from Fred Fallin, Ukemaster (and Costumer)

Sunday, November 7th, 2004

Well, I’m back… with my last post about Midwest Ukefest. When I wrote about our first night in Indianapolis, at the gorgeous house called Tuckaway (still delightfully stuck in the decor of the 1920s), I wrote that Fred Fallin, amazing ukeplayer from Chicago, had given me a gift.

Well, Fred has long collected fine items that reflect his favorite period in history, the same general timeframe as our music. Fred is one who understands that costuming can be an art, and he knows well the styles of the early 1900’s.

I’m honored to say that Fred has often spoken his admiration for our act… the music we perform and how we perform it. (We perform the music much as it was done originally, rather than embellishing and modernizing it. This is a preference, though not the only way to honor this music. However, Fred also has the same preference and so we sort of click stylewise.)

So at the Uke Expo in the Pocanos last September, Fred told me he had a spectacular raccoon coat that was original and in great condition, from the early 1930’s. He wanted the coat to go to a good home, to a place where folks would understand it as a reflection of the styles during this period of time we celebrate musically. He did not want to sell it to someone who might see it as a fashion purchase, and who might go on to other fickle fashion choices soon thereafter.

Now, this is an unusual thing to happen to me. I choose not to eat mammals, as long as I am living in such an abundant society that I can choose the foods I do eat. I might feel differently if I were hungry and that were all I could eat. But since I have the luxury of this abundant lifestyle, I choose to decline red meat.

Yet I also believe that once an animal is killed, whether for food or otherwise, we should honor that animal as best we can. And this coat is made of pelts that are about 70 years old, certainly not something that is a recent thing.

So I choose to accept the loving gift and wear the coat so that I can honor my friend Fred, the styles of this era we love, and the animals who have been gone a very long time. Others might choose differently. I think I will find it hard to choose this coat to wear out on the town, but it certainly will be a fine costume choice for some of our performance-related events.

I made sure to wear the coat all around the Tuckaway event to make sure I showed off properly and gave Fred his deserved “warm fuzzies” for sharing this prize with me. I felt a bit like a beautiful model for a little while.

The coat fits very well and it is very warm (I can see why you see furs everywhere in Toronto, a cold and windy city). The lining needs a little repair but the fur is in what appears to be perfect condition. I will take it to the local furrier to make sure it is treated properly and cleaned/stored properly.

By the way, notice that the stripes on the sleeves make a corner. There is a triangle where the pelt was turned horizontally, at the bottom of the sleeve. Fred says that this is the mark of an Art Deco coat. (I notice, too, that in this photo I am wearing the collar down. Fred had me turn it up, a stand-up collar that framed my face very nicely when I wore it at Tuckaway. I was a bit distracted when we did this photoshoot and didn’t get situated as beautifully as I could have.)

Fred showed me on Sunday at Ukefest, a raccoon coat that was on display at the Indiana State Museum where Ukefest was held. It was a shorter coat with much less fine detail. The coat that is now mine, is clearly a showstopper and a prize. Fred, if you are reading this, I thank you for your vote of high regard and trust in me, giving me this museum-quality garment. I’m honored. I will wear it with flair, and think of you!

I’m Here

Friday, November 5th, 2004

I haven’t forgotten you. I have had some very difficult days with my computer and the Internet. It started just before we left for Ukefest, and then starting before noon yesterday I could not get email for 36 hours. We still can not figure out why (the best guess is that there may have been static on the phone line, since it has been raining, but that doesn’t explain why I couldn’t download mail at a wireless connecting spot last night).

Today it unexpectedly just started working fine again, as if nothing had gone wrong in the first place. I’m very clear that I am not in charge, not in this life! At least not in charge of the Internet.

I’ve had some very busy days since we returned from Midwest Ukefest… many classes, many students, several locations. It’s a lot of fun, but it can keep me from my computer and desk. I have photos on my camera, and no time to process them.

It’s funny how I asked at 4 different shops last year, looking for places to teach knitting. Nobody wanted my time. Now I am so busy, I pray for classes to cancel sometimes. It is a high-class problem.

It is bedtime. I’ll write again soon, I promise.

(Photos are two shots I took over a week ago in downtown Lansing. One is Reutter park, which once had a glorious fountain but still has beautiful trees. The other is a shot of the Capitol building from several blocks south. I used to live 8 blocks north, and had the mirror view of this photo if I stood on the sidewalk in front of my house. By the way, we have had a lot of rain so most of the pretty leaves are on the ground today. It was beautiful while it lasted.)

Wrapping it up at Midwest Ukefest

Thursday, November 4th, 2004

After the Saturday show, we talked with many wonderful people at the theatre until we had to leave. We then found our way to the pub to have a grand jam session(photographs for that were posted a few days ago). It was great fun and we stayed until they kicked us out at closing time.

Some folks went to a church in the morning and played Ukulele for the service. I thought that sounded cool, but we opted to sleep instead. We then connected with a good-sized group at Shapiro’s deli for brunch, around 12:30.

Shapiro’s is clearly an institution in Indy. We knew the name of the place but not where it was… and so when we went downtown to the main traffic circle to find a bank machine, the family we asked had some teenaged girls who got very excited indeed when we said where we were going. The mom gave us good directions on how to get there, and we found it in no time.

This place is big by Lansing standards, and was pretty full when we got there. It actually reminded me of a place I ate in the Boston area years ago, and a little bit like a place in Chicago I went to 20 years ago, but nothing like anything even remotely near Lansing. We have Zingerman’s deli (which is a top-notch establishment in all ways) but it is not in the same genre as these sort of cafeteria-style delis. They are strong on their food offerings and the number of choices, but sort of bare-bones on decor. And people come back because of the food, which is the right reason to return.

We got to sit near the other two folks from Lansing, from Elderly Instruments where Brian works. We also sat near Elyse (sp?) and Kip, who were great fun and who told us how to get around Indy and in particular how to find an internet cafe with free access. We talked a good long time, and then some music just had to happen. Some of the kids in the Key Strummers requested that Brian play “I Love Me,” one of his most popular novelty numbers (he has two solo vocal CD’s which are heavy on the novelty tunes, but this weekend we stuck for the most part to more romantic numbers). They swarmed around him to hear every word.

Then Geoff got out his ukulele and a few others joined him over at our table for a short while before we all needed to call it a show. It was hard to let go of it all, it was such great fun.

But even though we were done with Midwest Ukefest, we were not done with Indianapolis. We found our way to Corner Coffee at 11th and Alabama, as recommended by Kip. We really loved it. We both sat down and I was able to download my email for the first time all weekend (the ethernet connection in the hotel had not worked with my computer but the wireless connection worked just fine at the cafe). We got talking to some of the folks there, who were talking Halloween a bit and they asked us where we were from. We told them we were there for Ukefest and they asked if we could play a tune. Brian had his uke with him (my bass was buried under a lot of luggage in the car at that point) and so we sang harmony together on “What Do We Do on a Dew, Dew, Dewy Day?” It was great fun and they enjoyed it, plus it gave us more to chat about while we were waiting for more emails to download.

At that point we were on our way home. We did make some stops here and there on the way home but our big journey to Midwest Ukefest 2004 was over. It was a grand journey, indeed!

Photos: The line at Shapiro’s Deli; our table at the deli; food we got… Brian’s reuben and my boiled cabbage, fresh pineapple and tea; Brian singing I Love Me to the kids; Corner Coffee; architecturally interesting housing across from Corner Coffee.

Saturday Concert at Midwest Ukefest

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2004

Saturday during the day, Brian did a fingerpicking workshop, in part using Maple Leaf Rag to illustrate a few of the points. I went with him to play bass with him, a few times when he wanted it to sort of fit into the performing big picture. I did take my new Fluke with me and followed along reasonably well, considering how little I play uke. Thank goodness I have that decade of guitar-playing memory in my fingers. It helped a lot with the fingerpicking, though I have a long way to go.

Before we left the Museum, Brian found some folks to play music with, and I went up to the 3rd floor and took a too-quick look at the Japanese Quilt exhibit. It was wonderful. I probably spent 20 minutes on it, and that was a bit disrespectful to the wonderful quality. Brian’s mother, a quilter, also saw the exhibit, but she did it right. She read every word on every sign, and it took her two hours to do it properly. We both were surprised at how many circles were used in the quilts, in many different ways. Also, one particularly wonderful quilt used buttons as a patterning technique. It was brilliant. I could have spent 2 hours if I had the time, but I had to be glad to have the few minutes I could spare.

Saturday Night at Midwest Ukefest was our time to perform. We were very excited to be part of this fine lineup of performers, all weekend.

The published lineup Saturday was this:

The Key Strummers
Lyle Ritz
Local Yokels Jugband
Joel Eckhaus
The Third Satchel Novelty Jazz Orchestra
Fred Fallin
The Fabulous Heftones (that’s us)
Michelle Kiba

We had another fabulous performance from the unstoppable Key Strummers, led by Geoff Davis. Talented kids, who are quite accustomed to performing… but surely not often at as large a venue as this.

Lyle Ritz was next. This man is without compare. He made a living as a studio backup musician, often playing bass (and he played the actual ukulele sound track in The Jerk, we learned from the Beloffs). His playing is just ethereal in its floating musicality. I was honored to be sharing the same stage with someone who is this fine and refined. He’s also a humble and quiet guy. It’s refreshing to find a humble ego and a brilliant musician in the same person. The world is right, you know?

I was worried about who would have to follow Mr. Ritz. Luckily, the Local Yokels Jugband played, and their musical styles were so different that it worked fine. Local Yokels includes our friend Steve Kobe who had played the torch songs the night before… but the rest of the players were all different. The absolutely best part of this band is the amazing jug player. There are many who play jug as mostly a rhythm instrument, like a drum. This man plays notes accurately from beginning to end (he must have lungs of superhuman capacity). He also has an amazing rolling cart full of jugband rhythm instruments, from a bicycle bell to washboard, kazoo, spoons, you name it. The cart is almost as tall as me and has very serious wheels for getting around.

What was interesting was how many of us play from the same pool of music. Even Local Yokels did three songs we know… Shine on Harvest Moon, Goofus, and Kansas City Star (a Roger Miller song which we play when we are at jam sessions). Three acts shared playlists back stage… The Fabulous Heftones, Joel Eckhaus and Fred Fallin. (It is true that we all would do the songs very differently, but when we all know so many songs we might as well give the audience more variety if possible.) In fact, one of the songs Fred did on stage is one that Joel has recorded. I really love this overlap… it means that we are not the only ones who truly adore this genre of wonderful songwriting.

Joel Eckhaus followed Local Yokels. He has such a relaxed voice, I love to hear him. He did a few songs alone and then he had a bass player and clarinet player join him for a few numbers. He ended with a variation on the Sound of Music song, So Long, Farewell which was altered to have meaning to intermission time. I know he enjoyed that! He likes to do a bit of novelty and humor and it definitely worked.

After intermission, we heard Geoff Davis’ own band, the Third Satchel Novelty Jazz Orchestra. By this time I had to stay backstage, so I did not get the full flavor of their sound… the monitors backstage were useful to know who was next but not to get the whole experience. However, I’ve heard Geoff’s band before and they are very entertaining and very musical. They often choose music that others don’t do, but fits them perfectly. Geoff plays trombone and uses it in this band, which adds a lot to the mix.

Next came Fred Fallin. How can one describe Fred? His business card says “Chicago Speakeasy Style” and that helps a bit. But Fred is a guy who is just bigger than his physical presence. He is so full of history and knows more Tin Pan Alley songs (the genre we play for the msot part) than anyone I know. He knows dates and times, and who played what song when. In a jam session he can go a mile a minute, never stopping for a breath, from one song to another, and almost always one song connected to the next with some theme or another. For his set on this stage, he did songs related to the war memorial. Again, I could not hear as well as I would have liked but he was totally on topic for that performance space.

And watching Fred is a delight. He learned ukulele all by himself, with nobody to teach him. His right hand is beautiful to watch, really like a dance of sorts. He has long curved fingers and approaches the strings in such a way that you could watch for hours.

Then we got our turn. It went so fast! We started with a favorite of ours… What Do We Do on a Dew, Dew, Dewy Day? We very often start our sets with this number. Then I did my version of Tiptoe through the Tulips. I love that song, and almost nobody has heard the intro, nevermind all the words (bless his heart, Tiny Tim made this song famous but he never did all the words as I learned them). I avoided this song for a long time because I believed that in a way, Mr. Tim, may he rest in peace, “owned” the song. However, it is such a sweet and lovely piece of inviting one’s loved one into the garden at dusk, that I gave in when I knew I wanted to pursue the “In the Garden” album. I hope that since I have a female voice and I do it straight as a love song, I do it differently enough that it is not even comparing apples to apples. I was determined to bring that song to this concert, and I thoroughly enjoyed singing it to the audience, who did seem to enjoy it, too.

I won’t bore you with the full set list, but Brian did perform his Maple Leaf Rag which also got many kind comments afterward. (If you click this link, scroll down and on the left hand side you will find a link to download Brian’s recording of this piece.)

Following our set, came Michelle Kiba. Wow, what a lady… what a class act in every way. This woman glows while she is on stage. I snuck into the back of the auditorium so I could hear her play, and I loved every minute I saw. She was joined by a local bass player from the Kupa’a-Pacific Island Resources ukulele group (I posted a photo a few days ago of Michelle doing the hula with this group), and for some of the numbers she was also joined by Lyle Ritz. I tell you, Michelle’s set was refined and musical and lovely in every sense.

All the appropriate and enthusiastic applause came, that you might expect for such a great act! And then Geoff got on stage and announced a surprise. We were joined by none other than Jake Shimabukuro

Jake is a dynamic young man who is unlike any other. He struts around the stage while he plays his electric uke, and really keeps your visual attention as well as keeping your ears engaged. He does his own music sometimes, but one piece that I recognized (and enjoyed fully) was George Harrison’s While My Guitar Gently Weeps.

I tell you what… I was very tired by that point but the young man woke us all. The kids from the Keystrummers were just wild with excitement (and I know it was definitely past their bedtimes). They clearly knew who he was, and they knew his repertoire… yelling out requests on at least one occasion. Jake probably got writers’ cramp writing out all the autographs after the show!

Photos today are: Lyle Ritz, Fabulous Heftones (under the watchful eye of General Pershing), Michelle Kiba, and Jake Shimabukuro with the Key Strummers and Geoff Davis (Jake kneeling toward front left, Geoff at top right).

Please, Vote Today.

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2004

Do whatever you can today to get out and vote if you are eligible to do so. It has never been more clear that one voice can make a difference.

And of course, your vote is a license to complain if things do not go as you had hoped. If you don’t vote, you need to keep your thoughts to yourself. Please, please exercise your voice today in the voting booth.

Ukulele Music, Aaaahhh….

Monday, November 1st, 2004

Of course, the best part about a Ukulele gathering, is the music. I usually have many words in me, but when I try to describe the music I come up short of ways to say what it is like for me. There is so much talent, and there are such great people playing the music! There are few egos and lots of fun. I believe that the instrument, by its looks, creates a mood of enjoyment and relaxation. You just would not find the same feeling between performers at another type of gathering, in my opinion. All groups have fun and have merit, but I’m glad I’m in the ukulele camp (by my association with Brian, as I haven’t played much ukulele… I have merely one song I can perform on uke, and I only do it very occasionally with the Abbott Brothers band).

But here I will do my best to honor those who fully entertained us this weekend. Understand that music has no words to describe it…

Friday night the lineup was this:

The Key Strummers
Joyce Flaugher and Bev Gagliardi
Steve Kobe and Karen Harkins
Lil’ Rev
Pat Monteleone
Deb Porter
Pops Bayless (Shorty Long)
Jim and Liz Beloff

Wow, just from the list of names I get inspired. The Key Strummers are a school group, led by Geoff Davis, the organizer of Midwest Ukefest. The school is called Key Learning Center so that gave them their name. These kids put on an amazing show. They play out and earn money doing gigs in town, to support the Ukefest event. They play music that is truly fun… a couple of songs about chickens and “I like bananas because they have no bones.” Yet the fun is presented hand in hand with musicianship. The kids are fabulous!

Joyce Flaugher and Bev Gagliardi are sisters who live in Texas. They tend to do Hawaiian and Hawaiian-inspired music. Joyce is a hula instructor (she is the one who taught my workshop on Friday) and a woman who clearly has her personal act together and focused. (We were honored when she came to both of our workshops this weekend.) I love their gentle, focused energy and easy connection with the audience.

Next was our friend Steve Kobe (Brian has known Steve for several years) and Karen Harkins. They are from the Indy area. Steve is in several bands and told me he often plays bass, a sort of low-key position… nobody tends to watch those of us who play bass. But he also plays ukulele. Last year he and his jug band played the stage and did great. This was an inspiration for him to spend a year working on a repertoire of songs he played on uke, where Karen sang.

These songs I adore, they are a bit later than those I sing on stage but they are the ones I often play at home…. 1930s to late 40s for the most point… Nat King Cole, Cole Porter, George Gershwin… some of the songs I learned from the Linda Ronstadt/Nelson Riddle albums she put out a good number of years ago, or Carly Simon’s “Torch” of the late 1970s, which is still my favorite CD of that genre. One of the songs I learned as a child from Barbra Streisand’s “My Name is Barbra” LP.

Karen has just a perfect voice for these tunes. It was just three of them on stage, Steve and Karen and a young bass player whose name escapes me right now. They were playing “my music” and I loved every note.

Following Steve and Karen was the irrepressable Lil’ Rev. He always amazes me with how well he commands an audience, no matter how large, sitting in a chair in the middle of a stage alone. The guy is a pro… knowing when to fill the empty spaces and when to leave them alone. Yet even though he can be very big on stage, offstage he is low key and very approachable. Love the guy. Love his act.

Then came Pat Monteleone, from Pennsylvania. I had lucked out and sat next to him at dinner at Buca di Beppo that night, so I had even more fun listening since I knew him. He’s mellow and relaxed, and plays music we do, want to do, should do, wish we did. This is someone we should hang out with and play tunes with… if we didn’t live ten hours away from one another. Class act. No surprise, the night is full of class acts…

Next was Deb Porter from Texas. She picks all the right songs. Her voice is relaxed and melodious… and she can croon or yodel with equal ease, to my delight. She did a few pieces alone and then a few folks joined her on stage in different combinations… I didn’t take notes but I seem to remember Pops Bayless, Lil’ Rev and Lyle Ritz. I could be missing someone here, and I’m very sorry if I am. On Saturday I bought Deb’s new CD and will enjoy listening to it as I work at home.

Next was Pops Bayless and Mysterious John, also known as Shorty Long. Their songs Flaming Ukulele in the Sky, and Egyptian Ella, get much play on the Flaming Ukulele Radio Hour these days, and for good reason. They were joined by another Texas musician whose name is Bob Guz (who we talked to a while after the concert on Saturday night). Bob also played uke and did a solo song which I thoroughly enjoyed.

The final act on Friday was the incomparable Jim and Liz Beloff. In fact, I’m listening to one of Jim’s albums (The Finer Things, the songs of Herb Ohta and Jim Beloff)while I type this. What can I say? Refined, musical, together, entertaining, with great harmonies… a perfect finale to a wonderful concert.

Both Friday and Saturday, after the show, people went to the Golden Ace Inn (Indy’s oldest Irish pub) to jam until the wee hours of the morning. Brian went Friday night, and I went to the hotel room to rest and get good sleep. However, Saturday night we both went. Since my photos of the show on Friday did not turn out well, I’m showing the Saturday jam photos here. I took the photos by holding my camera as far over my head as I could, to get as much in the shot as possible. That means we have some odd angles here, but I sort of like how the shots turned out… crowded just as the pub was.

And that first photo? It’s my new instrument. I bought a turquoise swimming-pool Fluke from Jim and Liz Beloff. How could I resist? It sounds good, plays easily, and is turquoise. I believe, other than some kazoos and a cheap harmonica, that it is the first time I have purchased a musical instrument for myself. My parents bought me a clarinet or two, my father got me a couple of guitars (the first one cost $13 in about 1971, it was plywood but when I played it for a full year I was rewarded with a “real” one). Once I got a flute which I believe was with money I got from my mother for my birthday and Christmas, my bass is from my father-in-law, and I have played several of Brian’s ukuleles.

But this instrument is mine, bought with my own income and chosen entirely by myself. Doesn’t it look like me? More ColorJoy!!! I’ve been playing it a little today, singing from a Hollywood songbook I got from Fleamarket Music, Jim and Liz’s business. I’m doing OK with When You Wish Upon a Star… well, if I’m looking at the music, that is.