We have yet another Great Line-up at Camp Oo-Koo-Lay-Lay this year to make sure that you and your ‘ukulele have the best time possible! And we have some really fun additions this year, including the inimitable Jim D’Ville who helped launch our very first Camp Oo-Koo-Lay-Lay way back when! And you know what the best part is? This is not just another gig for these guys. They’re all coming because they really want to be part of your camp experience and help make it the best they possibly can. (And they know there’s a lot of fun in store for them, as well.)
And so, without further ado, here is the 2019 Camp Oo-Koo-Lay-lay cast of characters:
There’s a good reason that James Hill and Del Rey both hire Jim D’Ville to teach with them. He is just that good. And he is passionate about teaching and making sure that all of his students learn to shine. Known as the “Energizer Bunny” of the ‘Ukulele World, Jim was also instrumental in launching Camp Oo-koo-lay-lay so many years ago, with his energetic, paperless string-a-longs and his passion for saving our trees by encouraging and teaching us all to Play By Ear. And who else but someone with Jim’s talent and crazy energy could create such fabulous camp videos in such a short time? And do you want to know one of the best-kept secrets about Jim D’Ville? He is also an amazing musician.
Gary Peare is the newbie on our team, but certainly no stranger to fun! He first caught the ‘ukulele bug when he was just 20-years-old (we won’t ask how long ago that was) when he was living on a train, traveling and performing as a clown with the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus! Now flash forward to 2009 when Gary started teaching both private students and adult group classes at Lamorinda Music in Lafayette, and more forward again to his recent certification as a Level 3 James Hill Ukulele Initiative (JHUI) “Certified Teacher” and you can understand why we definitely wanted him on our team, as well. Gary embraces the practice of “stealth teaching,” that is teaching his students basic music literacy and its relationship to the ‘ukulele without the students even knowing it, making the whole thing fun and accessible for students of all ages. I’m thinking this is a great match!
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. He 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, Rhan has conducted workshops at the West Coast ‘Ukulele Retreat, 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.
Rick Zeek is a man of so many talents, we lost count! Not only is he a great camp-fire chef, he helps us get our vocal chords in shape each morning with some professional coaching. 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. And, besides being a song-leader extraordinaire, he is a professional stage manager and adds just the right amount of pizzazz to everything he touches, including our camp-fire sing-alongs. Not only will Rick be helping folks get ready for our 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 these 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 other Ukulele Adventures, it turns out he makes a pretty mean pot of chili, as well! Dave is known as one of the best sound men on the west coast, but what he really loves to do is teach ‘ukulele. And more importantly, 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. And, even if you’ve had a workshop with Dave in the past, you can count on him always bringing something new to the table.
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. This is our fifth Camp Oo-Koo-Lay-Lay But I’ve also orchestrated the gold standard of ‘ukulele retreats: the West Coast ‘Ukulele Retreat and the Hawai’i Island ‘Ukulele Retreat. I also created and managed the eight-year run of the Wine Country ‘Ukulele Festival, the two years of La Semana de Uke-Culinary Fiesta and two years of the New Uke-Culinary Fiesta in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and the Kernville Ukulele Blues and Harp Fest along with the Yankee Ukulele Invasion of Great Britain. Most recently we’ve taken our Ukulele Adventures to Europe with our totally fun Ukein’, Bike, & Barge experiences. And in December we’ll be going to Cuba to study Cuban ‘Ukulele Rhythms.
Phew! That’s a lot. But you should know that my main 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 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. I hope you decide to be one of them.