A complete faculty list for the 2018 gathering will be posted by January 1, 2018. Here’s who we brought to Port Townsend in 2017…
Aaron and Nicole Keim – Hood River, Oregon
The Quiet American is husband and wife duo, Aaron and Nicole Keim. A home-grown modern folk revival, their music incorporates traditional ballads, banjo breakdowns, raggy choruses, gospel duets and other dusty Americana gems, all delivered on a wide variety of acoustic instruments. Their public performances pay tribute to old time folk music traditions yet strives to connect to a modern audience. Dusty back porch or shining concert hall, The Quiet American reminds you why homemade, hand crafted, American folk music will never fade away.
No stranger to the ukulele world, Aaron has been teaching ukulele techniques and performing at festivals since 2004. As an educator with a bachelor’s degree in Music Education and a master’s degree in Musicology, his true talents lie in his ability to adapt instruction to fit a wide range of learners and learning styles. Aaron is an ambassador for old time folk music in the ukulele world, adapting banjo and guitar techniques to the ukulele (including playing in the “clawhammer” tradition). Aaron is also a luthier, building instruments for Mya-Moe ukuleles (www.myamoe.com) since 2011 and as Beansprout banjo ukuleles from 2007-2011.
Nicole earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Music Education and taught K-5 elementary school music for nine years in the public schools while living in Colorado. She sang professionally for several years with the nationally recognized Ars Nova Singers and has taught private voice and piano lessons to students of all ages since 2002. After moving to Oregon in 2012 Nicole took a sabbatical from teaching elementary school in order focus on her fiber arts business and to perform and travel with Aaron as The Quiet American. She has taught several singing workshops and has developed a passion for teaching beginning ukulele instruction to adult learners.
Casey MacGill – Seattle, Washington
Casey MacGill is a classic Hollywood character in musical style and appearance. MacGill plays boogie-woogie, swing, and stride piano. He blows a lyrical cornet, however his most unique instrumental voice is a 6-string tenor ukulele. Casey has also been singing, arranging vocal harmonies and writing songs for over 30 years, in a career that stretches from Los Angeles (Mood Indigo, feature films “Frances” and “Swing Shift”) to Spokane, WA (The Spirits of Rhythm and the neo-swing classic CD “Jump”) to Broadway (The musical “Swing”) and finally to Seattle (the Blue 4 Trio).
There has been a ukulele all along the way. Casey received a Kamaka soprano for Christmas at the age of seven, and began playing in earnest a few years later during the “folk scare” of the 1960′s. After a guitar detour, MacGill began busking with the uke, and formed his first 1920′s-30′s band, the Pep Boys. When Casey appeared on the Gong Show he was playing his uke, and again in the movies Frances and Swing Shift. As MacGill opened the Broadway show Swing, he and his uke stepped into a spotlight to begin the first act with his solo on the verse of It Don’t Mean a Thing.
Craig Chee and Sarah Maisel – San Diego, California
Craig and Sarah discovered a similar passion and work ethic and as of September, 2015 are now married! They have made an incredible splash in the ‘ukulele scene with their complementing styles and vocal harmonies. They have been featured at ‘Ukulele Festivals and events all over the world including Cairns and the Sunshine Coast (Australia), Cheltenham and Huddersfield (United Kingdom), Vancouver (Canada), Tokyo (Japan), Honolulu (HI) and more. In 2015 they were lucky enough to be featured on the cover of ‘Ukulele Magazine.
Even though Craig Chee was born and raised on Oahu, he matured as an ‘ukulele player and musician on the mainland. Throughout attending and graduating from the University of Oregon, Craig focused on teaching a myriad of different styles with the tiny instrument. Craig has had the honor of working under Jake Shimabukuro and Troy Fernandez, and has become a renowned instructor and performer around the world. Craig infuses his energetic and just plain “fun” style into many genres of music and is known for his collaborations at different music events.
Sarah Maisel was born and raised in Alabama and found herself working in San Diego, CA as the Lead Female Draper for the La Jolla Playhouse and the University of California San Diego. On walking into a local ‘ukulele jam, Sarah was both fascinated by the instrument and the joy that surrounded it. Studying under Frank Leong, Sarah dove into the jazz stylings of golden age Hawai’i songs and arrangements inspired by ‘ukulele legends like Lyle Ritz, Benny Chong and Byron Yasui.
Daniel Ward – Los Angeles, California
Daniel Ward began playing and composing for the ukulele only six years ago, but he brings to the four-strings a lifetime of accomplishments on the guitar. He has played professionally in every musical genre, from rock and roll to classical but is best known as a flamenco guitarist. Joaquin Enciñas, Pablo Rodarte and Maria Benitez have all danced to his strings, and he also spent time touring with Ottmar Liebert. Along with performing and teaching at ukulele festivals he has been recording and touring with Heidi Swedberg and the Sukey Jump Band, introducing ukulele and great music from around the world to kids of all ages. He and Heidi host the Weekend Ukulele Warriors Workshops at McCabes Guitar Shop in Santa Monica CA.
Del Rey – Seattle, Washington
As a teenager, Del met bluesman Sam Chatmon who inspired her to become a blues queen. No, really! She’s made an international name for herself as a complex, pianistic guitarist, described by an observant fan as “a combination of Bo Carter and the Andrews Sisters.” But in the last 10 years she has also ascended the heady ranks of the ukulele royalty. Del plays concerts worldwide and has recorded at least a dozen albums, most of them solo records but also collaborative efforts with the Yes Yes Boys, Steve James, and Maria Muldaur. In addition to being a highly sought after musician, Del is also a well-respected teacher. She takes a guitar player’s approach to the ukulele, using her three fingers to get syncopated melody and harmony lines against a steady thumb beat. With her custom-made resonator uke, her witty stories, and her stylish vintage look, Del Rey spins out astonishingly complex music while singing songs that are about real topics and tell true stories – from a biography of blueswoman Memphis Minnie to the one about crazy neighbor who borrows everything in her house. As Dirty Linen says, “To listen to Rey is to abandon all hope of ever viewing the world in the same comfortable way.”
Eve Goldberg – Toronto, Ontario
Eve Goldberg sings music that draws honey from the rock of life. A compelling writer and interpreter, Eve’s watercolor voice and solid instrumental style have made her a favorite with audiences across Canada and the US. Her performances on guitar and ukulele are intimate and relaxed, moving effortlessly from folk classics to original gems. Since 1990, she has performed her trademark mixture of folk, blues, country, bluegrass, old time, and jazz in venues across Canada and the US, ranging from small house concerts to the prestigious Kennedy Center in Washington DC. Along the way she’s earned the respect of legendary musicians like Peggy Seeger, Geoff Muldaur, and Penny Lang. She has released three CDs and is currently a member of the folk/roots duo Gathering Sparks.
When she is not performing, Eve specializes in teaching music to adults in community settings. She especially enjoys teaching beginners and strives to create a supportive environment that encourages students at any skill level to learn and grow. Eve currently leads the Parkdale Ukulele Group and the Ukulele Orchestra of Toronto. For over twenty years she organized The Woods Music and Dance Camp, an adult folk music retreat in Ontario. She has taught music classes at the Haliburton School of the Arts, James Hill Ukulele Institute, Winter Folk Camp, and at many other gatherings. She is in great demand as a workshop leader and performer at ukulele events near and far.
Gerald Ross – Ann Arbor, Michigan
Gerald Ross‘earliest claim to fame is a commercial he made with a friend for Detroit’s Kazoozie Kazoos. The spot ran for two months during the Captain Kangaroo show. While his talent on kazoo may have kick-started his musical career, Gerald also played bass in a high school rock band and electric guitar with a Western swing band. He played acoustic guitar with a bluegrass band while in college, finally graduating to “The Lost World String Band” where he played guitar, bottleneck National guitar and Cajun accordion. The band made several appearances on A Prairie Home Companion.
Today, Gerald is known more for his work with the ukulele and Hawaiian lap steel. He has recorded six solo CDs, available wherever fine music is sold. In addition to being a polished performer, Gerald is a prepared, organized and thoughtful teacher, and such a nice guy! Whew!
He has performed with Bonnie Raitt, Arlo Guthrie, Doc Watson, Johnny Gimble and many others. He’s been featured at the Ukulele Festival of Great Britain (headliner), The Puget Sound Guitar Workshop, Wine Country Uke Fest, Lone Star Uke Fest, Portland Ukefest, Seville (Spain) Uke Fest, Augusta Heritage Swing Week, Ashokan Western Swing Week and many other Roots music festivals. It’s no wonder Gerald Ross has been called an entire music camp and festival in one.
Heidi Swedberg – Los Angeles, California
When she was 5 years old Heidi Swedberg received her first ukulele from the Hawaiian Easter bunny while living in Kailua, HI. She has fond memories of teaching herself chords and writing songs in her room in Albuquerque NM, the place she thinks of as home. She picked the instrument up again in 1992 in Hollywood, CA while playing a singer-songwriter for a network TV pilot. Now life imitates art, and she plays a musician full time.
Heidi LOVES working with beginning and intermediate students of all ages. Her classes are fun, and people often find themselves laughing so much they don’t realize how much they are learning! She is particularly good at explaining complicated concepts in very simply. Besides teaching how to play ukulele she teaches musical improvisation, like you might see on “Whose Line is it Anyway?” and techniques to free performers from blocks and stage fright. She is personable, non-threatening and loves engagement. Seeing people along on their journey to connectedness through music is her passion.
Jason Arimoto – Los Angeles, California
Originally from Hawaii, Los Angeles-based Jason Arimoto, also known on YouTube as “facemeltingukulele,” is a featured artist on the Na Hoku Hanohano Award winning album, Abe Lagrimas Jr. and Friends – Solo Ukulele: The King of Pop. He’s a two-time winner of the Ukulele Underground Award for Best Vocal Performance of the Year. He has attracted a following for his blues ‘ukulele covers of Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing” and John Mayer’s “Gravity,” which was featured as one of Jake Shimabukuro’s top picks on YouTube in 2011. His original music blends his island roots with reggae and blues, with soulful vocals combining with a bluesy ‘ukulele tone.
Jason has performed across the U.S. including the Bean Blossom Blues Festival in Indiana and Downtown Disney in Anaheim, California as well as internationally at the Cairns Ukulele Festival in Australia and the Sentosa Ukulele Festival in Singapore. Jason teaches and performs regularly while serving as co-owner/operator of U-Space, Los Angeles’ premier full-service ‘ukulele store.
Jere and Greg Canote – Seattle, Washington
Jere and Greg Canote from Seattle, WA, are as renowned for their affable attitudes and humor as they are for their music. Greg on fiddle, and Jere on guitar, and both on banjo ukes, perform zany concerts, play for dances, lead songs, and promote a good time. The twin brothers started singing soon after they were born and haven’t closed their mouths since. They spent their early years in California’s Sacramento Valley, inventing songs with their father at the piano and tagging along with their parents’ folk and square dance group. They honed their skills performing in many bands and discovered old-time music in the mid-1970s. In 1978 they attended the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes in Port Townsend, WA, and eventually became frequent teachers there. After touring the country with dance caller and singer Sandy Bradley for four years, they returned to the Northwest for a thirteen year stint on Seattle’s National Public Radio show, “Sandy Bradley’s Potluck,” as Sandy’s affable side-kicks. The rigors of finding new material for a weekly radio show kept the twins on their toes, mining and performing gems of American music of the past as well as writing new songs in those styles. Jere and Greg regularly provide workshops on ragtime music and ukulele.
Kevin Carroll – Austin, Texas
Kevin Carroll is a certified State of Texas Elementary Educator, instructs at ukulele workshops internationally, is a performing and recording artist, and teaches both private and group music lessons to all ages and levels in Austin . He has launched a ukulele-based music education charity called edUKEcation.org which brings lessons and instruments to schools and students with limited resources. Equally passionate about music, education and ukulele, Kevin seeks to inspire and empower students to exercise their birthright of making music. He has also created the Austin Ukestra, a ukulele orchestra that performs instrumental music of all types in and around Austin.
Kevin’s scope of teaching includes Texas-based music, blues, soul, funk, slide ukulele, family music facilitation, ukulele ensembles, and beginners of all ages. He has been a resident of Austin, TX for over 20 years where he has played guitar and toured across the globe with Americana artists such as the Flatlanders (Joe Ely, Butch Hancock and Jimmie Dale Gilmore), Jimmy LaFave, Alejandro Escovedo, Robyn Ludwick, Charlie and Bruce Robison and many others. In addition to leading his own groups as a singer-songwriter, Kevin has produced albums and written songs for several Austin artists.
Matt Weiner can be spotted around Seattle and other places plucking, bowing and slapping his gut-strung bass with Casey MacGill, Del Rey, Barton Carroll, Bric-a-Brac Trio, Squirrel Butter, Wayne Horvitz, Jacob Zimmerman, Ray Skjelbred and many others. He has performed and recorded with The Todalo Shakers, Hannalee, The Hot Club of Cowtown, The Asylum Street Spankers, Butch Thompson, Becky Kilgore, Danny Barnes, Matt Munisteri, Jon-Erik Kellso, Rani Arbo and James Hill. He played the role of bass player Joe B. Mauldin in the 5th Avenue Theatre production of Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story. At The Ukeshack #1, an album of bass and ukulele duets with Del Rey, was released in 2007.
Matt has taught at the Puget Sound Guitar Workshop, the Yukon Woodshed Acoustic Music Workshop, The Portland Ukulele Festival, The Menucha Ukulele Bandcamp, and 4 different Centrum music camps: the Ukulele Festival, the Country Blues Festival, Voice Works and the Hot Strings Vintage Jazz Workshop. He teaches bass (bass guitar and double bass) private lessons and workshops at Dusty Strings in Seattle.
Nova Karina Devonie hails originally from Vancouver BC. This vile temptress of the accordion has been delighting audiences with her sensitive (and sometimes humorous) playing, sonorous singing style, and sideways fashion sense since the early 1980’s.
Nova moved to Seattle to join swingabilly cowgirl band “Ranch Romance,” and stayed to make it her home after that band ended their touring days. She now performs with several bands including Miles and Karina, The Buckaroosters, and The Rolling Blackouts.