Monthly Archives: June 2008

Portland Uke Fest: June 2008

Note: This is a lengthy account to give you an idea what it’s like to attend a three-day festival. If you want to skip the words and head directly to the photo gallery, click here.  If you want to see the captions for each pix, click “detail” in the bottom right corner of the album’s page; also, enlarge the thumbnails by double clicking on them.


Portland Uke Fest 2008

My “barre chording” thumb is sore, I’m still catching up on sleep and I have so many new ukulele concepts to practice that my fingers won’t get any rest for at least eight months. But would I have missed the Portland Uke Fest held last week at Reed College? Nope, not for all the Aquila Nylguts in the world.

While I’ve been to more than a dozen ukulele festivals in the past four years, I’d never taken the plane north to Oregon to attend what’s known as the “favorite” festival by many ukulele workshop teachers, performers and students. This year I made reservations in early spring (they have limited space—sign up by late April if you want to be assured of a slot), snagged a couple Southwest flights and got myself prepped for three-plus solid days of ukulele learning, listening, playing and schmoozing. Sigh…I should have gotten more sleep ahead of time.

This turkey likes ukulele.

Mark was still in the shower, I was ready for work (right down to the lip gloss and earrings—I always seem to forget them) and I figured I could sneak a few minutes to play my ukulele before we left for the office this morning. I needed the time, too; I’d promised to play a couple of “Hawaiian” tunes for a Vacation Bible School later in the morning at a nearby church (the week’s theme was “Outrigger Island”) and I could certainly use the minutes to practice—especially the singing part!

My trusty LoPrinzi didn’t need tuning (it almost never does) so I started right off with a sweet D7-G7-C vamp and launched into “Pearly Shells.” I usually have a tough time getting “started” with the singing part of songs, even if I play the first few melody notes, and this morning was no different. But by the third line I was singing and strumming happily—when I looked out one of the windows in the bedroom and saw a tall and lithe observer just outside, a female turkey.

Mrs. Turkey (I know she’s been wed because I’ve seen her before with her doting guy and, later, a brood of baby turkeys) is a frequent sight, along with her sisters, in our neck of the woods. We live on the edge of a canyon and the combination of pine forest and the open tilled areas of the orchard attract a variety of wildlife. Wild turkeys are part of the scene so we’re familiar with their habits. If you’re not, let me offer you a quick turkey overview: Turkeys are always eating. Always. Their necks seem permanently bowed down as they graze along the pathways, forest floor and fields, looking for delectable ground-living goodies. If they’re not looking for edibles, they’re scraping them up from under the thatch and pine needles with their big, scaly, strong feet (sorry, Mrs. Turkey, but the truth may be a bit harsh). A turkey’s eyesight is keen and the ones around here shy away from any close human contact.