There was no question after working with Rhan Wilson and Rick Zeek at last year’s Camp Oo-Koo-Lay-Lay, that we definietely wanted them to come back, especially after that amazing theater they created for us in the middle of the camp-ground on the last night. But there is so much more to them than that.
Rhan Wilson is an award-winning teacher and performer and author of All in Good Time: A Book About Playing Music for the Aspiring Ukulele Musician, who also brings nearly 50 years of music study and passion along with him. “The All In Good Time Orchestra,” his growing ensemble of ukulele, guitar, keyboard, and bass players, was the opening act for The United Kingdom Ukulele Orchestra at the Rio Theater in Santa Cruz a few years back. He was recently voted “Best Music Instructor” in Santa Cruz County and, in addition to teaching privately, has conducted workshops at UC Santa Cruz, the Sebastopol Uke Festival, Bend’s Uke U., Burning Uke, and Carmel’s Smoldering Uke. Rhan will be bringing this and much more to Camp Oo-Ko-Lay-Lay once again.
And Rick Zeek is a man of so many talents, we lost count! He, along with Rhan Wilson, leads the increasingly popular “Matthew, Mark, UKE and John” Gospel Sing-along – a loosely structured workshop/gathering that sings and plays a variety of old and new gospel/inspirational music. But, not only is he song-leader extraordinaire, as a professional stage manager, he adds just the right amount of pizzazz to everything, including camp-fire sing-alongs. Not only will he be helping folks get ready for an Grammy-worthy Open Mic, we may get him to help us unleash our inner muse’ with a couple of song-writing workshops, as well.
And what would any of my events be without our beloved Dave Egan, who not only consistently comes out on top in the eyes of his students at the West Coast ‘Ukulele Retreat, Hawai’i Island ‘Ukulele Retreat, and the Wine Country ‘Ukulele Festival, it turns out he makes a pretty mean pot of chili, as well! As a sound technician, Dave has worked with artists such as The Rastafarians, Everette Harp, Jackson Browne, and Gregg Rolie, and he has a carpetbag full of behind-the-scenes stories that tell all. But, what he really loves to do is teach ‘ukulele, and Dave is as enamored with teaching beginners as he is with tackling the hot shots. He has achieved “faith healer” status among those who have taken his workshop on “ukulele ergonomics” and is always paying attention in class and figuring out what he needs to teach his students next. In a rut? Take a workshop from Dave. Got a question about anything related to music, your playing, or your instrument? Bring it to Dave. Hungry? He is your guy.
And look who else is coming back! The master of all stringed instruments and the guy with more musical knowledge and anecdotes in his little finger, than most us will garner in a lifetime: Fred Sokolow! There’s really not enough room here to sing all of his praises or to list the 100+ instructional books he’s written for guitar, dobro, banjo, mandolin, and ‘ukulele. And that doesn’t even include the decades he’s spent as a professional musician, performing with the likes of John Herald, Frank Wakefield, and Jerry Garcia. He has also opened for the Grateful Dead, the Doors, B.B. King, and Country Joe and the Fish! Today, Fred lives in Santa Monica, where he performs retro jazz guitar, often with the former British rock star, Ian Whitcomb, and the legendary folk singer Tom Paxton. And he continues to produce an astonishing array of instructional books, CDs, and DVDs, including the latest: Beatles for Fingerstyle Ukulele and Jazzing up the Ukulele. Among other things, Fred will be bringing the Blues and Slide Ukulele to Camp O along with a heightened level of musicianship that only decades in the business can bring.
And, even better, Fred’s wife, Lynn Shipley Sokolow, a professional musician who plays both upright bass and banjo with “Sugar in the Gourd,” will be joining us, as well. Though, as she says, she has now “come to her senses” and jumped on board with the ukulele bass! As you can see, the primary focus in all of Lynn’s musical endeavors is to generate as much fun out of playing as is humanly possible, and this is her philosophy when it come to teaching, as well. But don’t let that distract you from her credentials. Besides being an accomplished musician, Lynn is also a published poet and lyricist, having sold more than half a million records. As an entertainment manager she has worked with Geffen recording artists Quarterflash and Berlin, and has several gold and platinum albums on her wall. And yet she remains totally approachable and in addition to teaching ukulele bass, is willing to bring up the bottom for anyone who might need a bass assist at the open mic or jam. Plus, she’s just danged fun!
Yes, I know. A lot of familiar faces! But when you have a winning team, why change it?
And I’ll be back, too! I’m Elaine de Man, the one who answers your emails, takes your money, pays the piper, and tries to keep everyone happy. And though this is just the third Camp Oo-Koo-Lay-Lay we’ve managed, I come to this year’s camp fresh from the ever-popular West Coast ‘Ukulele Retreat, held at Asilomar on the Monterey Peninsula (now in its sixth year) and the Hawai’i Island ‘Ukulele Retreat, soon to be four years old. I also managed the eight-year run of the Wine Country ‘Ukulele Festival, the two years of La Semana de Uke-Culinary Fiesta and the New Uke-Culinary Fiesta in Santa Fe, New Mexico, along with the Yankee Ukulele Invasion of Great Britain. My mission is to make wonderful memories for people. The pleasure I get from seeing people smiling, stepping out of their comfort zones, and realizing their potential is for me, what it’s all about. I also have a Master’s degree in animal behavior–handy when herding a large group of itinerant ukulele players.
So that’s it for now, but may not be all! So, stay tuned to see who we might be adding to this list as we continue to build the program. Or better yet, throw your hat in ring and register to join us for the most fun you can have with your ‘ukulele on!