“I don’t know how you’re going to top 2009 – but we want to be there! Thanks for making it happen.”
Where to begin? There were so many great moments and memories…..and so many wonderful people who made it what it was: sponsors, vendors, performers, instructors, volunteers, and you.
Those who made it to the Wine Reception at Gaia on Friday afternoon to see Brittni Paiva perform got way more than they bargained for when ‘Ukulele Bartt, Kalei Gamiao, Moe Dixon, and Freebo also showed up. Kalei Gamiao is a new face on the mainland ‘ukulele scene and turned many a head. You’ll be hearing a lot more from him. Many thanks to Gaia Hotel and Spa and sponsors Char and Gordan Mayer from Mya-Moe Ukuleles, who were also on hand with an array of their beautiful ‘ukuleles.
If there’s one thing Judd knows, it’s how to throw a party–even if he has to move vats full of fermenting grapes to make room in the middle of crush! (That’s Judd on the left.) Many thanks to Judd’s Hill Winery and KoAloha Ukuleles for sponsoring the Judd’s Hill Hula Party, the Friday-night kick-off to a fabulous weekend, and to Doris Coonrad and her crew for an amazing gastronomical array. And, to top it off, through our Soles4Souls shoe drive at the Judd’s Hill Hula Party and Sonoma Academy, we collected more than 100 pairs of shoes for needy people world-wide!
Saturday dawned cool, but sunny, as vendors started arriving at Beringer Vineyards bright and early to set up the ‘Ukulele Marketplace on the Promenade in front of the Old Stone Winery. And what a transformation they performed! Imagine an ancient open-air market featuring nothing but ‘ukuleles and you’ll get the idea. We had everything from the whimsical offerings of Kala (with ‘ukuleles that look like kiwi fruit) to the most beautiful one-of-a-kind creations from expert luthiers. We simply cannot thank Beringer Vineyards enough for opening their beautiful doors so very wide.
The Ohana Wa’a Outrigger Canoe Club brought their beautiful canoe, again, and started serving up morning coffee and breakfast goodies right away. (The line for their ono barbeque didn’t die till they ran out of food in the afternoon.) In the meantime, the puveyers of other Pacific Island goods transformed the fountain courtyard next to the Rhine House into an International Marketplace.
Once everything was in place and ready to go, Liko Puha’s opening chant set the stage for a picture-perfect day.
“I begin by acknowledging and asking permission of the ancestors of that area to allow our gathering. I proclaim the beauty of the valley, verdant in wine vineyards and famous for hosting visitors. I ask all that have gathered, including the ancestors, to come and enjoy the harmonious sounds of the ʻukulele. Grant life, grant life to all things.”
The Promenade Stage in front of the Old Stone Winery went on to host some of the most amazing talent in the ‘ukulele world today including: Dominator, Freebo, Moe Dixon, Brittni Paiva, Aldrine Guerrero, Derick Sebastian, Erich Sylvester, Kathy Quain, Kalei Gamiao, Ukulele Bartt, and many more, under the direction of our fabulous master of ceremonies, Andy Andrews.
And that’s not even including what simply happened on the spur of the moment. Here’s Derick Sebastian just “noodling” at the Oceana Ukulele booth:
In the meantime, vendors were doing a hopping business and many a festival visitor walked away from the day with a beautiful new ‘ukulele to take home, including a few who had only come to taste the wine!
Old friends met new friends, new friends were made, and people who just happened to be visiting the wine country discovered the smiles the ‘ukulele brings to faces young and old. You could tell who is visiting from Hawai’i….they’re the ones wearing hoodies and down parkas.
But even with all that going on up on the Promenade, one of the most happening places at the festival was Kimo’s Korner, on the back porch of the old Rhine House, where Kimo Hussey was on hand to answer questions, sign books, take requests, and kanikapila. He admits, he had the time of his life.
And let’s not forget the amazing workshops offered by James Hill, Victoria Vox, Steven Espaniola, Derick Sebastian, Aldrine Guerrero, Moe Dixon, ‘Ukulele Bartt, Liko Puha, Dominator, Char & Gordon Mayer, Debbie & Kanoelani Haumea, and the beautiful “classrooms.” Here’s Brittni Paiva teaching music theory in the Rhine House kitchen and Ralph Shaw teaching strumming techniques out by the Bocce Courts.
And those with a little time on their hands could always venture on down to the UkeTube Booth, so generously sponsored by Kala Brand Ukuleles and JVC Electronics and graciously hosted by David Tachera and family. (Be sure to visit our YouTube Channel to see more.) Nothing but smiles all around:
In the meantime, folks started claiming their turf on the lawn in front of the Rhine House in anticipation of the free afternoon concert featuring Steven Espaniola, Faith Ako, Ralph Shaw, Victoria Vox, and James Hill.
This was singer/songwriter Victoria Vox’s first year at the Wine Country ‘Ukulele Festival, and she won hearts everywhere she went. Here’s “Peeping Tomette” featuring Victoria Vox and her amazing mouth trumpet:
And, of course, James Hill, the most innovative musician on the ‘ukulele scene today, closed the show with something new and wonderful, just for us. Here’s the grand finale to the day at Beringer Vineyards with James Hill, Victoria Vox, Ralph Shaw, and “Billie Jean.”
This might have been the end to a perfect day…….but it just kept getting better. From Beringer Vineyards our stalwart crew made their way to Flora Springs for the Flora Springs Harvest Party and Luau–Napa Valley Style.
Stay tuned….there’s more to come….