This weekend I spent the better part of Saturday at the Los Angeles International Ukulele Festival, right here in my own town. A rough 3-minute drive down the street. After a week of ups and downs, and after working every day for several weeks, it was time to push some work to the back burner and hang out with a bunch of ukuleles and their happy owners. So I packed up two of my little four-stringed guys (a tenor and a soprano), and went ready to learn and be inspired.
Before getting too involved in this review however, let me just say that on Monday/Tuesday of the previous week, when I was having not such fun days, there was no way I could have predicted that 5 days later I’d be standing in a parking lot in drizzling rain, with two of my ukuleles and a handful of new friends, eating a hot dog from a truck called Serendoggity Weiner Works. I don’t know if it was the best hot dog ever, but when it comes to hot dogs, timing can be everything. The hot dog itself was not bad, but the hot dog on a cool cloudy drizzly day, with my two favorite ukuleles close by, and a bunch of other ukulele players trying to manage their ukuleles and hot dogs at the same time – made it a contender for the best hot dog ever.
Performances – I had the opportunity to watch several ukulele performances Saturday, and the best by far was that of Craig Chee & Sarah Maisel, aka Mr. & Mrs. Chee. I don’t think I’m supposed to post my shaky quality iPhone video of their performances of “On the Sunny Side of the Street,” but it rocked. You should check out this video and see if you agree. I’ve had a chance to see Craig and Sarah perform several times, and this weekend may have been the best – they bring a lot of fun and professionalism to their performances.
On the other end, with fun but maybe not so much professionalism, was Herb Ohta Jr and Bryan Tolentino. They had been hyped as the duo to see, somewhat legendary as far as Hawaiian ukulele players go. I’ve heard some of their recorded music and was impressed, but I’ve gotta say, their performances Saturday seemed a little lazy, a little unprepared and kind of phoned in. They kept doing that whole schtick some performers do of talking between each song, making jokes about not really know that one, not being ready, etc. But I don’t think they were kidding around. It was a pretty weak performance, but they’re a crowd favorite and they received a lot of applause from an audience of Herb and Bryan fanboys and girls. I didn’t get it, and I’d probably skip them next time.
But I have to get back to the hot dog. Serendoggity Weiner Works. If I were to run across that truck again in town somewhere, I might be tempted to buy another hot dog, but then I probably wouldn’t. Without the cool beach-y weather, and the crazy people playing ukuleles all around me (i.e., WITH me), it wouldn’t be the same. But, if you ever run across the Serendoggity Weiner Works truck, with ukulele players hanging out nearby, that might just be the vibe you need. In that setting, I’d definitely grab a hot dog.