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San Diego: Hale ukulele!

Oh it was so nice to be back at Hale. I’d been there on my first tour almost 2 years ago and it’s just as wonderful. I was in a different group back then (Bass, sax, percussion & me). That was a really fun trip too. This time around I had just me and the Bass (attached to the handsome Perry Stauffer). We arrived nice and early so we could unpack our equipment rom the car. That was quite a process all in itself, but Perry had a special Jenga skill that kept us organized for the entire trip. Actually, every time we arrived at a new destination, we had to dismantle his intricate storage system and repack it all when we left.

At Hale we got to see Gretchen and Augi again, Ric’s two little ones, and Monica, Ric’s lovely wife (Ric is the owner of Hale and a very cool guy). I also got to see my long-time ukulele comrade Carol! Familiar and sentimental, since she was with y Roseville club since we first opened with Dad.

Perry and I had a great workshop with eager participants. We played Summertime Chord/Melody solo, then we did a little concert. Toward the end, Sarah Maisel and Craig Chee popped in, taking a break from their home recording project. Perry and I were invited out to a pub with Ric’s family and the Chees where we drank beer and tried some bacon brownies. Yum! (Couldn’t really taste the bacon tho).

Afterward  my Duo hung out for a bit with the Chee duo, having tea and talking shop. I never would have believed it myself, but Craig gave a compelling argument for the use of re-entrant baritone tuning on a tenor uke, so I got a set and strung up my Cherry uke when I got home. The jury is out on whether this tuning is for me, strings are still setting. But the Chee’s swear that it will open up my playing to a new level, being able to lay melody notes on the high D (DGBE tuning). I sure like the dark tone of the baritone strings.

(Note on Baritone: I’ve got my Dad’s nice Nalu baritone and I haven’t changed the strings yet because he had played them. I can see the worn down parts on the metal and the wound part has been sawed thru  along several frets. I wasn’t sure when I’d be ready to switch the strings, but I think I am now. My Dad would insist that I do. He’d say “Don’t be silly, they’re just strings! You can get the right sound unless you change ‘em! You girls, you’re SO sentimental!” Yes. Yes I am. And, yes, I have an art journal to stow my Dad’s strings.)

When Perry and I arrived in San Diego, we’d just planned to do the gig, then head out and start driving toward Phoenix, stopping somewhere along the way to camp when we got tired. When we told Ric that, he and Monica insisted that we sleep right there! In the lesson/concert room where so many talented ukulele players have played  😀 (Can you name the autographs you see in the picture?) So we did, and we were laughing as we inflated our twin beds on the floor where we had played a concert a few hours before.  I love the room because Ric has it decorated with some really cool music-inspired art, sculptures and paintings.

(Travel Tip: Two twin inflatable beds will hold air much better than one queen. And, yes, two average adults can fit on one 😉

In the morning we met the Craig and Sarah for breakfast and saw the gorgeous view from their kitchen. I learned about Sarah’s love of Lava lamps & tea, and Craig’s talent for making the best bacon ever! I met Craig and Sarah separately about 5 year ago, and they’ve always been so warm and helpful. It was just dreamy sitting there listening to their perspectives on a career in music. They gave Perry and I a bunch of helpful tips and really got the gears between our ears moving. I learned that it’s best to practice plugged in, and to play around with instrumentation. Perry has been noodling on the baritone ever since, so get ready for him to switch up his bass for the bari sometime onstage. The possibilities are endless!

Man, I’ve heard everyone and their mother saying how beautiful San Diego is, but you’ve got to see it to understand. The climate, the views, it’s just breathtaking! Perry and I are dreaming about moving there. Along with many other dreams. And so our travels continued East to Phoenix…