Text by Jim D’Ville //Photos: Courtesy of West Coast Ukulele Retreat
If you were going to this year’s West Coast Ukulele Retreat, you were encouraged to wear flowers in your hair as an homage to 1967 and the Summer of Love. And if you didn’t have any hair left, bring a wig. This year’s “love in” retreat was held, as always, at the beautiful Asilomar State Beach and Conference Center in Pacific Grove, California.
Retreat organizer Elaine de Man says of the Summer of Love concept, “We started having themed nights a few years ago. It gives us an opportunity to focus on the music (and costumes) from a specific era and really have some fun with it. This year we recreated the Summer of Love. We awarded raffle tickets to attendees based on how committed they were to the era and how much they participated. Just about everyone dressed up . . . some even still had the clothes they wore back then AND they still fit into them!”
The Retreat ran from Wednesday through Sunday morning, May 2–6. Performers/instructors for the retreat included Fred and Lynn Sokolow, Kevin Carroll, Dave Egan, Rhan Wilson, Rick Zeek, the UK’s Phil Doleman, and this writer.
On Thursday night, costumed attendees were treated to an instructors’ concert featuring the music of 1967. Friday night, students were afforded the opportunity to perform with the Flea By Night Band, composed of the instructors. According to de Man, “For the students it’s an amazing feeling to have all that professional support, especially if it’s your first time singing or playing on stage. But you really need a staff with the musical chops that musicians like Kevin Carroll, Phil Doleman, and Fred and Lynn Sokolow have, in order to pull that off well.” Saturday night the ever-popular student bands performed, followed by an open mic session.
A great addition to the workshops at the WCUR is Dave Egan’s recording studio workshop. Egan is a well-respected sound engineer from Santa Cruz, California, who works regularly with the likes of Gregg Rolie (Santana/Journey), and Jackson Browne. Says de Man, “With Dave I have an excellent sound engineer and an extremely popular instructor all rolled into one. So we began offering his recording studio sessions. It’s a huge learning experience for the folks who choose to take the class. Plus they get a professional-quality recording of themselves to take home with them. As far as I know we’re the only retreat/camp to offer this.”
Dates for next year’s retreat have yet to be confirmed, but de Man promises more fun, great costumes, and incredible music in 2019. You can watch for updates at westcoastukuleleretreat.com