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2016 Strathmore Guitar and Ukulele Summit

I just got back from the wonderful eighth annual Guitar and Uke Summit at the Strathmore arts center in North Bethesda, Maryland. Four days of outstanding guitar and ukulele seminars, concerts, and jams culminating in a great show by the super talented instructors.

You may recall my post about the Summit a few years back. I've been there every year!

This year was the first time the final, free concert was held in the Music Hall. I love, love, love that building. I'm not a perfeshinul moosician, just a hack, so I was thrilled to get the chance to be on the stage there.

Crazy, right? This is the view you'd have if you were in the BSO. Or if you were someone like Gil Shaham or Helene Grimaud.

In this instance, it's the Ukulele Orchestra of Washington, aka a group of us students. We had the pleasure of playing three four tunes led by our great instructors: Lil' Rev, Jeff Peterson and Tobias Elof.

We were the opening act. Don't have much of a following yet - note all the empty seats. The place filled up for the main acts - the whole orchestra level and the first balcony tier were full.

We had actual scores to play from.

Made us look like we knew what we were doing.

The Orchestra in between numbers.

Dress code is...casual. Need to be comfortable when you're wailing on the uku.

One of the balconies viewed from the stage.

In addition to being simply beautiful, the acoustics are amazing. What a place.

My buddy David Geyer opened up the main bill with the classic Gershwin brothers' "Our Love is Here to Stay."  He was accompanied by the incredible Tobias Elof (on the right).

Cathy Fink later described David's voice as "made for Broadway," and I agree. He's a first-class vocalist, and a heck of a uku player to boot.

The brains behind the whole Summit are the fabulous, wonderful, terrific, Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer. If it has strings, they play it - incredibly well.

I am honored to be pals with these two ambassadors of music.

Cathy's playing her gorgeous tangerine burst Collings tenor uku, while Marcy is holding down the bottom end on her signature model Gold Tone cello banjo.

We also had the great pleasure of hearing the astounding Tobias Elof, who came in from his native Denmark to teach and perform.

Tobias taught advanced classes on traditional Scandanavian dance music, harmonics, scales. He also taught one of his own compositions - and conducted us ala Esa-Pekka Salonen.

He's a fantastic composer and performer. It was a privilege to hear him.

For the second year in a row, we had the great opportunity to study with, and hear, the incredible Jeff Peterson.

Jeff hails from the island of Maui, and is one of the finest guitarists on the planet. He's a master of the slack key style, but also plays jazz and classical styles with aplomb. He's jaw dropping and spellbinding - I don't know enough superlatives to describe him.

He's also extraordinarily knowledgeable about Hawaii - it's cultural, political and musical history. And a super nice, unassuming guy too.

Here's another shot of the audience - the place got quite full.

Did I say I love it there?

For the finale, everyone joined in to jam on a fiddle tune, including the fabulous Lil' Rev on harmonica. (He told us in a harmonica workshop that 'you suck' is a compliment to harmonica players!)

Here we see Cathy Fink channeling her inner Stephane Grapelli on violin while directing the band.

The Summit is great fun. I encourage you to come next year!


Post a Comment 2 comments:

  • Eileen said...
    August 20, 2016 at 10:02 AM
    Hey -- We did 4 songs, not 3 -- I will never forget "Under the Chicken Tree". It will haunt my (vegetarian) dreams forever!
  • Yr Fthfl Blggr said...
    August 20, 2016 at 11:31 AM
    Ah, yes. Thanks. Love dem shikkens!

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