Guess Who’s Coming to Asilomar!

Paul Hemmings!

ph_bio_imgA number of past attendees made it quite clear that there was a name missing from the roster of the 2015 West Coast ‘Ukulele Retreat. So when we were ready to add another instructor, we reached out and pulled Paul Hemmings on board…all the way from New York City. And quite frankly, I’m not sure what took us so long. Not only is Paul an extremely talented musician, performer, and instructor, who has been with us at the Wine Country Ukulele Festival for the last three years, he also has a music degree from the acclaimed jazz program at the New School University in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village and has been on the faculty of the Third Street Music School Settlement in Manhattan’s East Village (the nation’s oldest community music school) for the past fourteen years. Since jumping onto the ukulele wagon, Paul has conducted clinics, workshops, and master classes at numerous music camps and ukulele festivals all over the world. And he still finds time to perform regularly with his ukulele-fronted jazz trio, The Paul Hemmings Uketet, at jazz clubs and festivals across the country and around the world. He has released six albums on Leading Tone Records, including critically acclaimed recordings with saxophonists John Tchicai and Eric Alexander. His latest album, The Blues And The Abstract Uke, features Gaku Takanashi on bass and Rudy Royston on drums, in addition to special guests Greg Tardy on tenor saxophone and Curtis Fowlkes on trombone. But most important to us, he is an ukulele instructor par excellence, always bringing something new and refreshing to the table.  Look at what he’s offering this year:

The Art of the Improvisor: Playing The Changes

Starting with a couple of two-chord songs and finishing up with a couple of 32-bar standards, in three consecutive sessions, Paul Hemmings will guide you through an approach to improvisation that will have you “playing the changes” of your favorite tunes at the drop of a hat. It’s a brilliant approach. In Session 1 you’ll start laying the foundation by focusing on the use of chord tones. In Session 2 you’ll add a few more chords and start improvising over the 12-bar blues form. And in the last session you will tie everything together by exploring the modes of the major scales as they relate to a common 32-bar standard such as All Of Me or Satin Doll. (Level 2-3)

Chord Melodies For The Vocally-Challenged

While many people use the ukulele to accompany themselves singing, not everyone has been been blessed with the voice of an angel.  But that doesn’t mean you can’t carry a solo with your ukulele. Just let it be your voice. Over the course of three days, Paul Hemmings will teach you how to simultaneously play chords and melodies on the ukulele so that you’ll be able to perform recognizable renditions of the songs you love without disturbing the neighbors or sending your dog running for cover. Class repertoire will include traditional tunes such as Amazing Grace and You Are My Sunshine, in addition to tunes by The Beatles, Duke Ellington, and Antonio-Carlos Jobim. (Level 3 – 4)

Strokes On Uke (All Levels)

With the 2001 release of Is This It? , the American indie rock band The Strokes quickly established their credentials and defined the sound of the New York rock scene for the rest of the decade. In this workshop, Paul Hemmings will lead the class through an instrumental rendition of  the album’s catchy lead-off single, Is This It?, which he has arranged specifically for an ukulele orchestra. The presumption is we’ll all see a performance at the Student Cabaret on our last night. (All levels)

We were able to add Paul to the line-up because so many of you decided to join us this year and because Asilomar was able to add an additional block of rooms for us. But now those rooms are almost gone as well.   So, if you’d like to join us at this, our fifth, fabulous West Coast ‘Ukulele Retreat, please register as soon as possible to make sure you don’t miss out on any of the fun.


~ by UkuleleLady on February 28, 2015.

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