An All-Star Cast of Ukulele Artists from Across the Country.

Abe Lagrimas, Jr.

Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award-winning artist Abe Lagrimas, Jr. is a versatile and professional multi-instrumentalist on the drums, ukulele, and vibraphone. The Hawaii-bred 2012 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Drums Competition semi-finalist attended Berklee College of Music as a drum set principal. As an ukulele player, Abe has performed at ukulele and jazz festivals throughout the world and released multiple albums in the United States, Japan, and Korea. His ukulele repertoire include jazz, Hawaiian, pop, rock, and original music. An active educator, Abe has written instructional ukulele books for Consonus Music Institute and more recently for Berklee Press. His book entitled Jazz Ukulele: Comping, Soloing, Chord Melodies, is published by Hal Leonard and will be available later this year. In addition to teaching privately and presenting workshops locally and internationally, he is involved with the Los Angeles Music Center for their annual programs "Ukule-Along" and "Ukulele Christmas Orchestra". Abe endorses Koolau Ukuleles, Kaminari Cables, and Fusion Bags. Check out his latest album, Rhythm & Uke, on Pass Out Records.

Jim and Liz Beloff

Finding a ukulele at the Pasadena Rose Bowl Flea Market in 1992 inspired Liz & Jim Beloff to start Flea Market Music, Inc., publisher of the popular Jumpin’ Jim’s series of ukulele songbooks. This series is sold worldwide and includes The Daily Ukulele: 365 Songs For Better Living and The Daily Ukulele: Leap Year Edition, two of the biggest and best-selling ukulele songbooks ever published. Other best selling titles in the series include Jumpin’ Jim’s Ukulele Tips ‘N’ Tunes, Jumpin’ Jim’s ‘60s Uke-In and Jumpin’ Jim’s Ukulele Country as well as collections of blues, bluegrass, classical music and jazz standards arranged for ukulele by some of the finest players in the world. All of the Jumpin’ Jim’s books are distributed by the Hal Leonard Corp.

Jim Beloff is the author of The Ukulele—A Visual History (1997 Backbeat Books) and has made three how-to-play DVDs for Homespun Tapes. In 1999, Jim debuted his concerto for solo ukulele and symphony orchestra. That piece, “Uke Can’t Be Serious,” has been performed many times since. Jim is also an active songwriter and has released a number of CDs. His latest 2 CD set, “Dreams I Left In Pockets,” features 33 songs he wrote or co-wrote with uke legends Herb Ohta and Lyle Ritz. Liz Maihock Beloff, with a background in film and television graphics, designs the covers and art-directs FMM’s songbooks, CDs and DVDs. She is also a talented singer who, before teaming up with Jim, sang with a cappella groups in college and New York City.

Jim and Liz regularly perform together playing their family’s Fluke, Flea and Firefly ukuleles. They have also gone on tours of Japan, Australia and Canada and believe in their company’s motto, “Uke Can Change the World.” and

Craig Chee and Sarah Maisel

Individually, Craig Chee and Sarah Maisel have been performing and teaching across the nation and around the globe. Though they can and do perform solo, their collaboration is what has brought them into the forefront. With Craig’s Pop/Folk influence and Sarah’s Jazz style they have created their own niche sound at different Festivals including The 'Ukulele Festival of Great Britain and The Cairns 'Ukulele Festival (Australia). From the start of their collaboration in early 2013, they have been even more sought after with an amazing response to their combination of ukulele and vocal harmonies. Not only have they recorded an International Limited Release album, they have been writing songs preparing for their full feature album to debut in 2015. 

Fred Sokolow

Fred Sokolow is best known as the author of over a hundred and fifty instructional books and DVDs for guitar, ukulele, banjo, Dobro, mandolin and lap steel, that are sold all over the world. Fred has long been a well-known West Coast multi-string performer and recording artist, particularly on the acoustic music scene. He has led bluegrass, jazz and rock bands and has been sideman for musical luminaries like Bobbie Gentry, Jim Stafford, Tom Paxton, Jody Stecher, The Limeliters and Ian Whitcomb. He has also played in many TV and movie soundtracks and in commercials and “other people’s recordings” too numerous to list. The diverse musical genres covered in his books and DVDs, along with several bluegrass, jazz and rock CDs he has released, demonstrate his mastery of many musical styles. Whether he's playing Delta bottleneck blues, bluegrass or old-time banjo, 30s swing guitar or screaming rock solos, he does it with authenticity and passion. 

Fred's "Fretboard Roadmaps" series is an international best-seller. He conducts seminars up and down the West Coast and has taught at many uke retreats and festivals as well as the National Guitar Workshop, Steve Kaufman's Akoustic Kamp and Pete Wernick’s banjo camps. Fred continues to perform and create instructional material, and is regarded as an authority on many musical genres, particularly what is now called "Americana."

Cali Rose and Craig Brandau

Cali Rose is a full-time musician, award-winning songwriter and popular entertainer in Southern California.  She mixes original songs, standards and comedy in her three CD’s.  The titles say it all:  “Smile, Smile, Smile,” “Cali Rose Gets Goofy” and “Are You Having Any Fun?” Cali founded and teaches The CC Strummers from the Culver City Senior Center, loves working with private students, does tons of shows and writes a popular blog.  She is very busy! .

Craig Brandau is a life-long musician who creates and plays sophisticated chord melody arrangements. Inspired and aided by his musical mentor, Howard Heitmeyer, Craig has released two well-received CDs, “Tenderly” and “Try To Remember.”  His book “Jazz Chord Solos for Tenor Ukulele,” published by Hal Leonard, offers richly textured versions of standards and popular songs.

Daniel Ward and Heidi Swedberg

Though she now lives in Los Angeles, Heidi was born in Hawai’i and received her first ‘ukulele from the Easter Bunny when she was five.  (How perfect is that?)  But the place she thinks of as home is Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she grew up and first started writing songs on the ‘ukulele and teaching herself to play. It was while playing the role of a  singer/songwriter for a television pilot in 1992 that Heidi began  playing the ‘ukulele again. In the spring of 2009 she made her first cd, Play,  to facilitate teaching ukulele: something a student could listen to, practice along with, and enjoy, and has just release her second CD, A Cup of Tea.  Today, Heidi teaches ‘ukulele across the country on a regular basis, organizes “play” parties for groups of all ages, and performs with the Sukey Jump Band.  She is our go-to person for obscure songs and workshops on stagecraft and overcoming stage fright.

Relatively new to the ‘ukulele, in a few short years,  Daniel Ward has become a beloved ambassador of the ‘ukulele–from Shanghai to Haiti, and many ports in between, bringing with him the skill and experience he has gained over the past 25-years as a flamenco guitarist, touring with Ottmar Liebert and playing for internationally known flamenco dancers. Even so, his versatility as a musician has kept him busy composing, performing, and recording everything from jazz to heavy-metal-vaudeville. (Imagine: Spinal Tap meets Frank Zappa). For the past four years, Daniel has worked closely with Heidi in creating the Sukey Jump Band, spreading ‘ukulele joy from coast to teaching–but mostly encouraging–musical participation across America including performances at the Austin City Limits festival, KindieFest in Brooklyn, Jiggle Jam in Kansas City, the Waterfront Festival in Chicago, the Wine Country ‘Ukulele Festival, and the West Coast ‘Ukulele Retreat.

Ben Ahn

Last but certainly not least, Ben is joining us from San Francisco to lend his unique talents. 

Fans have described Ben's style as a mix between diverse vocals and `ukulele virtuosity.  He plays just about every type of music out there, and he doesn't hesitate to mix in a few stories between songs. 

Born and raised on the island of Kaua`i, Ben studied the piano, trumpet, and baritone before falling in love with the four-stringed `ukulele.  In 1999, he began his studies at Southern Oregon University where he would eventually graduate with an MA in Teaching, a BA in English Writing, and a minor in Human Communication.  During that time, he also recorded two independent albums with his band Melemana.

Since college, Ben has been invited to play and speak all around the world, including a 2012 World Musician selection by the American School in Japan.  He has accumulated thousands of hours of stage-time, and is continually redefining his performances to ones that both new and returning fans love.  In 2013, he made San Francisco, California his new home, but he will always remain connected to the island of Kaua`i, where his musical journey began.