On a windy and chilly January evening, the Austin Ukulele Society kicked off our eighth year (!) with what appeared to be our biggest turnout to date: 165-170 players! The day had started off balmy and beautiful, as one might imagine a southern California winter’s day to be like. But by the time the group gathered that evening, the temperatures in Central Texas had dropped significantly and it felt very appropriate to learn The Mamas & the Papas vocal folk classic, “California Dreamin’.”
We played our warm up tune (Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds”) to start our meeting, as we’ve done for the past seven years. After sharing some local ukulele news and reminders, Bob launched into chord progression practices, with picking and strumming options, to help everyone get comfortable with playing “California Dreamin’.” He also walked us through some vocal exercises, since this song features such great harmonies. We were fortunate to have Ann Mosher accompany us with a flute solo as in the original recording by The Mamas and The Papas. By the time we put it together and played it through a few times, everyone was sounding strong and confident:
To play along with us, you can download the lyrics and chords for “California Dreamin’” or download a copy of the presentation and instruction guide (what we project on the screen for all to follow along, including exercises and drills).
We took a break to enjoy excellent talent by the evening’s open mic participants: Cindi, Full Mental Jack-Kit, The John Davenport, Tate and Helen. It was great to hear such a wonderful array of ukulele performances that included terrific originals and covers alike.
The very next night, we were thrilled to welcome Lil Rev, a preeminent ukulele instructor and performer who hails from Milwaukee, back to Austin for the first time in five years. Rev presented a fantastic workshop inspired by his love for Lead Belly, teaching the group ways to add blues and boogie elements to their strumming, as well how to play several of Leadbelly’s most influential songs. Shortly after the workshop, Rev enchanted the full house of over 60 attendees with his exceptional storytelling and an excellent concert performed on both ukulele and harmonica. The group was thrilled to see their own Bob Guz perform a couple of tunes with Rev. After an excellent encore, we regaled Rev with a standing ovation; everyone looks forward to having Rev back in Austin in the not too distant future.
Everyone should look forward to the next meeting, on Thursday, February 8th, as the group takes on some Valentine’s-suitable material. 🙂 See you then!
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