No, Santana was not at the Wine County ‘Ukulele Festival, but I did get to see him perform the day before the festival in Reno. Awesome stuff. The Salvador Santana (Carlos’ son) Band (SSB) opened. They were pretty good, but their sound was really muddy, although most of that was the sound guy’s fault. The SSB’s style is a mix of rap, rock, R&B, reggae, and Latin.
The lights are dark. Let there be light. And Sound – loud sound. Fat guitar tones, percussion, bass, a Hammond organ. And spirits. There he was, walking out on stage in his little brimmed hat and sunglasses, PRS in hand, playing Jingo like I couldn’t believe. I cried through most of the first two songs. Here was this guy who has been my hero for years, and he is even more powerful in the spirit than I thought. Most of what I remember is a blur. Incident at Neshabur, Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen, Oye Como Va, Maria Maria, Smooth. In the few moments that Carlos talked, he addressed issues such as fear, love, and how nowadays there is a lot of Halloween, but no candy. The drum solo in Soul Sacrifice had to be six minutes long – at least. It was by far the best drum solo I have heard. The guy played the crowd like we were fish, everybody just begging for more. They closed the show with “Into the Night” after playing for a solid 2 hours and 40 minutes.
Home again, home again to get 4 hours of sleep before heading down to Napa Valley for the Wine County ‘Ukulele Fest. The festival was great. I got to see many friends from events like the Kahumoku camp. I also got to meet new people like Dominator and ‘Ukulele Tonya. The lineup of teachers was great – James Hill, Herb Ohta Jr., Ralph Shaw, Liko Puha, and a few more who I didn’t have a chance to learn from. My first class was James’ “pass it on” – the art of teaching ‘ukulele to other people. He had a lot of great ideas that I hope I will be able to use in my teaching. Next up was Ralph Shaw’s “performing” in which he talked about how to improve your performing. We went around our little circle and everybody said what they wanted to address in their performing, ranging from anxiety to not forgetting the chords. Then Ralph went through a list of tips he had made and encouraged questions about specific ones. Then there was just enough time for myself and another gentleman to get up and play a bit of a song and receive constructive criticism. The tips I received were: smile more (my mom is always right!), and stay and take the applause longer. After that, Kimo Hussey was generous enough to sit down with me for about an hour and answer some of my questions about developing my own style. When I’m in his presence I feel as if he is teaching the way of the force instead of music.
There were a lot of booths to visit, including ‘Ukulele Source‘s and Chuck Moore‘s. Chuck got some big kudos from James Hill, who said that Chuck’s double hole ‘ukulele was the nicest he had ever played. I got to play a D-VI at the Koaloha booth – neat concept, but the neck was too thin for my liking.
The turnout was great for the first year. Next year should be even better. See you there,