9th Annual Reno Ukulele Festival • April 6-9, 2017 • Nugget Resort, Sparks NV



Online sales have ended. A limited supply of one and two day unlimited workshop passes will be available at the second floor Registration Table during the following hours: Thursday 1-3PM. Friday & Saturday 8AM-Noon. CONCERT TICKETS will remain available through the Nugget.

Our Performers: Gerald Ross • Abe Lagrimas, Jr. • Victor & Penny with The Loose Change Orchestra
Michael Powers • Peter Luongo • Faith Ako • Steven Espaniola • Dani Joy • Jim D’Ville • Jason Arimoto

Our Performers: Gerald Ross • Abe Lagrimas, Jr. • Victor & Penny with The Loose Change Orchestra
Michael Powers • Peter Luongo • Faith Ako • Steven Espaniola • Dani Joy • Jim D’Ville • Jason Arimoto

I can’t believe that this is already our 9th year! The Reno Uke Fest has grown from a small, home town event to The Biggest Little Uke Fest In The West, with a huge roster of talent, lots of workshops where players of all levels can hone their skills, a huge vendor marketplace, and three nights of music and ukulele mayhem!

For those of you who will be attending for the first time, it works a bit like a trip to Disneyland:

• Purchase a 1Day++ or 2Day++ Pass and choose from any of the Workshops on Friday, Saturday, or both. Plus++ attend the Thursday evening reception and Sunday morning Strumoff/Sendoff!

• If you’re brand new to the ukulele, you can purchase a Newbie Pass, which permits you to take up to four Newbie Workshops, also plus++ the Thursday evening reception and Sunday morning Strumoff/Sendoff!

• If full days of learning to perfect your ukulele chops aren’t enough, you can also attend our Celebrity Showroom concerts on Friday and Saturday nights! Tickets for those will go on sale through the Nugget Box Office around the second week of February.

Finally, if you’re not into the above, you can hang out at our Public Stages and shop our large Vendor Marketplace for free! Come enjoy the Biggest Little Ukefest In The West, April 6-9, at the Nugget Casino Resort in Sparks, Nevada.

Hotel Rooms

Discount Rooms at the Nugget are available now! Call 800-648-1177 and use group code GUKE17.


A limited number of booth spaces are now available to reserve in our Festival Marketplace, open 9-5 Friday & Saturday, April 7-8, 2017 with optional hours Thursday from 12-5PM. Booth rental includes one 6 foot table and two chairs in 10×10 space with Wi-Fi. You bring any additional display materials. If you are a ukulele vendor, we also consider in-kind trade of instrument(s) for booth space. Email playukemail@gmail.com for more information. CLICK HERE TO RESERVE

New to the Uke?

We will offer two classes each day, Friday and Saturday, for those new to the ukulele. You may attend the classes both days if you like. You’ll know your stuff by the end of the weekend! That’s up to four classes for only $59! Click here to register.

Our Performers and Instructors for 2017:

Abe Lagrimas, Jr.

Yet another master musician that took me way too long to book to one of our festivals, Abe is a stupendous multi-instrumentalist, equally comfortable on drums, vibraphone, and of course, ukulele. He lives in the jazz world, but he teaches techniques that cross all genres. At the 2016 Reno Uke Fest, he teamed with Craig Chee and Sarah Maisel in an outrageous, glorious, instrument swapping concert that had the audience roaring.

In February of this year, Abe teamed with Michael Powers and our soon to be new family member James in a rip roaring jazz trio that will be reprised at our Thursday night reception. Don’t miss it!


Introduction to Improvising – Levels: Intermediate
How to start improvising using rhythmic and melodic motifs.
Click or right-click HERE to download and print handouts for this class.

Jazz Improvisation – Levels: Advanced Intermediate
Learn how to improvise over the classic, Autumn Leaves, without any music theory!
Click or right-click HERE to download and print handouts for this class.

Sophisticated Harmony – Levels: Intermediate
Delve into the world of 7th chords, tensions, and their application.
Click or right-click HERE to download and print handouts for this class.

Peter Luongo

Click on Peter’s photo and watch what he’s done with kids and young adults over the past 30+ years. Well, he’s now doing that with adults, through our new partnership, the Luongo Ukulele Experience. You can read all about it on our LUE page. If you’re at a time in your life where you want a challenge, a purpose for getting good at the ukulele and music in general, and have the drive, resources, and time to indulge your interest, this is the program! Peter will give an interactive “test drive” of the program at 11AM on Friday and Saturday, plus a bonus earlybird workshop Thursday afternoon.

Jim D'Ville

Jim D’Ville and his worldwide phenomenon, “Play Uke By Ear” has toured the world. For Reno, he’ll be teaching two new classes covering the two eras of the Fab Four:


NEW! Secrets of the Fab Four 63′-’64 (For Advanced Beginner/Intermediate player levels)
Why were The Beatles the greatest band ever? The chord progressions! The Beatles songs written in the breakout years of 1963 and ’64 showcase Lennon and McCartney’s exciting use of cadence and colorful extended chords. We’ll learn immortal pop classics including I Want To Hold Your Hand, She Loves You, I Saw Her Standing There, Tell Me Why and more all by ear!

NEW! The Beatles Magical Mystery Chords (For Intermediate player levels)
The Beatles employed every trick on the Circle of 5ths to write some of the most ear-catching musical phrasings in popular music. In this workshop we’ll play snippets of over 25 Beatles songs and examine how they used the emotional values found in chords to write some of the most popular music of all time.

Faith Ako

Faith Ako was also part of our 2016 Ukulele All-Stars concert and the only problem was that her set was too short! Faith brings a mix of contemporary Hawaiian tunes and a wry sense of humor that thoroughly entertained the Celebrity Showroom crowd. She is a delightful performer who also teaches Hawaiian ukulele techniques in her workshops.


Hot Hawaiian Strums. Level 2+
In this class with Music Award winner Faith Ako you will learn some basic Hawaiian strum patterns and a few basic plucking steps on the ukulele. Learn authentic Hawaiian style from a native Hawaiian who is also a professional musician. We will work on how to coordinate your strumming with specific tunes to create an island sound. You will be introduced to the Island chant and pulse and be able to parallel these to some individual tunes. A great start to form and shape a beautiful Hawaiian tune.

Pure Hawaiian: Level 2-3 In this Hawaiian Language workshop, pronunciation and history behind our cultural music will be the focus of the hour. We will be learning to play island style with clarification of language and rhythms. The goal to present at least one Hawaiian song accurately and with joy. We will put together all of the elements – chords, strums, melody picks, and words – to be able to perform for others. This is a taste of where it all started. Come ready to learn about the past through something completely new!

Victor & Penny

Victor & Penny are Jeff Freling and Erin McGrane, from Kansas City. They are so much fun, and such spit-shined, dang good entertainers, that I try to not let too many fests go by without an appearance. This year, for the first time, we’ll get to see them with their “Loose Change Orchestra” in the Celebrity Showroom for our grand finalé. And we’ll have the dance floor out! I hope that some of you will dress in your finest 20’s to 40’s fashions as we enjoy an evening of vintage, antique pop!


Performance Skills Workshops 1 & 2

Level 1 for the beginner to intermediate player
Learn valuable tools on how to present your songs confidently in a live performance. Together, we’ll practice how to connect with the audience, manage stage fright, and focus on singing, playing and remembering your lyrics all at the same time (gah!). What makes a great performance great? We’ll examine about what works and what doesn’t.

Level II for the experienced intermediate to advanced player
We’ll take it to the next level in this hands-on, open-mic style class. In a safe, encouraging environment we’ll try out the things we learned in Level I. A limited number of students will present songs and work on them one-on-one with V&P in a master-class format where the balance of attendees observe and learn by listening to the interaction.

Gerald Ross

Gerald is a virtuoso on many instruments. At our festival, in addition to his own gigs on ukulele, you may see him on Hawaiian steel guitar, lending the trademark sound of the islands to other performers. His style is an entertaining mix of swing, blues, Hawaiian, American roots, (which earned him a couple of appearances on A Prairie Home Companion), and Tin Pan Alley.


You’re Already Moving:
For very confident beginners to intermediate players

When playing a song in a given key the only chord that provides a feeling of rest and completion is the named chord of that key or the “one” chord. For example: In the key of C it’s the C chord. In the key of G it’s the G. The remaining chords in the key create a feeling of movement and tension. We will play and learn songs that start on chords other than the one chord. Starting a song on these “alternate” chords is fun and exciting – you are moving from the moment you start – the train has already left the station! Duke Ellington’s “Satin Doll”, “Honeysuckle Rose”, “I Can’t Believe You’re In Love With Me” and other popular tunes will be used to demonstrate this technique.

No music theory needed. no music reading required. No knuckle-busting chord shapes to learn. Just fun! A concert or tenor sized uke tuned GCEA is recommended.

Three note chords – All you need to get that bluesy/jazzy sound.
For very confident beginners to intermediate players

Just because the ukulele has four strings doesn’t mean you have to play them all! Many times you can say more musically with two or three notes than you can with four. We will learn easy to finger three note chords that sound much more bluesy and jazzy than their four note counterparts. Easy blues songs will be used to demonstrate this very effective, very hip sounding style. No music theory needed. No music reading required. No knuckle-busting chord shapes to learn. Just fun! Any sized uke tuned GCEA will work.

Julie Holloman

Julie has loved and played music her whole life. She studied Music Education at the University of Nevada Reno, and graduated Suma Cum Laude with a B.S. in Music Education in 1990. She taught K-6 Elementary Music for 13 years, receiving the Distinguished Service Award for outstanding teaching from both the Music Department and the School District.

In December 2009 she established the Aria School of Music & Art. Aria is a 501(c)(3) non-profit music school, and is able to help students receive private lessons at little or no cost. Aria is home to the Reno Ukulele Group, and offers three ukulele classes.

Julie teaches piano, voice, and mandolin, in addition to her main instrument, Flamenco Guitar. As the ukulele became more popular, she ported her Flamenco class to the uke. Her class is an annual favorite at our Reno Ukulele Festival and we are extremely happy that she will join us for the first time in Palm Springs!


Introduction to Flamenco on the Ukulele I & II – Levels: Advanced
Delve into this spicy Spanish guitar style on four strings! Julie has been teaching Flamenco on ukulele for us in Reno for several years now and the reviews are consistently great! She’ll teach two Intro classes Friday and Saturday mornings, then a single follow-up on Saturday afternoon.

Click or right-click HERE to download and print handouts for this class.

Steven Espaniola

Steven Espaniola will transport the audience to the Hawaii of yesterday with soaring falsetto vocals, nahenahe slack key guitar and rhythmic ‘ukulele, during our Ukulele All-Stars night on Friday evening in the Celebrity Showroom. He and Faith Ako provided a wonderfully contrasting set last year, but Steven was fighting a throat issues that limited his versatility. I’ve asked him back this year so that the audience can hear what they missed!


Hawaiian Kani Ka Pila 1 & 2 – A dissection and analysis of 3 traditional Hawaiian songs:
Steven focuses on the performing of 3 popular traditional Hawaiian songs from the He Mele Aloha book with emphasis on arrangement and how to lead a kani ka pila and play in a group format. The workshops will take place Friday and Saturday with the same approach but different songs on each day.

Michael Powers

I met Michael in 2002, long before the ukulele was just a glint in my Daddy’s eye. No wait, I mean long before the ukulele took over my life! Michael is a multi-instrumentalist who is best known for playing jazz guitar with such luminaries as Ray Charles, Herbie Hancock, and Gladys Knight. After becoming friends, I asked him if he could port his guitar skills to the ukulele. He did so, and even produced a killer CD called “Urban Ukulele.”

Michael will perform throughout the festival and will teach workshops for the uBass and Advanced Jazz Techniques.


Advanced jazz techniques and formulas – Levels: Advanced Intermediate
Click or right-click HERE to download and print handouts for this jazz class.

Bass Ukulele uBass – Levels: bass ukulele required
Click or right-click HERE to download and print handouts for this uBass class.

Jason Arimoto, PhD

Multiple Grammy Winner Daniel Ho’s favorite ukulele instructor, Jason is brilliant and his classes have been extremely popular favorite at several of our events. After the raves about his slack key class in Palm Springs, I asked him to join our Reno lineup. Jason is the co-founder of U-Space Ukes and Coffee in Los Angeles and also developed PhD Ukulele Strings.


Slack Key Ukulele 1 & 2 Levels: Class 1 Early Intermediate, Class 2 Strong Intermediate or attendance in Class 1 Learn the sweet Hawaiian techniques of Slack Key Guitar on ukulele! Open tunings will change your uke world!
Click or right-click HERE to download and print handouts for this class.

Dani Joy

Dani Joy is Danielle Herreid, third generation music teacher, charming vocalist, and daughter of everyone’s friend, the late Stu Herreid of The Strum Shop. Dani will follow in her father’s footsteps, teaching our beginner’s track throughout the festival as well as her popular workshop on the Peanuts Classic, Linus & Lucy.

Dani Joy is also a fine vocalist and will be performing Friday with the Ukulele All-Stars in the Celebrity Showroom.


Thursday: Linus & Lucy – All Levels Welcome
Click or right-click HERE to download and print handouts for this class.

Friday & Saturday: Ukulele 101 & 102. A two part class for new players. Both classes taught Friday and Saturday.
Click or right-click HERE to download and print handouts for this class.

General Schedule

Thursday, April 6
(Subject to change)

1:00: Registration Opens
2:00: Earlybird Workshops Begin
6:00: Earlybird Reception with Michael Powers Trio

Friday, April 7
(Subject to change)

8:00: Registration Opens
9:00: First Workshops Begin
9-5: Public Areas/Stages Open
4:00: Last Workshops Begin
Celebrity Showroom
7:00: Doors Open
8:00: Ukulele All-Stars In Concert

Saturday, April 7
(Subject to change)

8:00: Registration Opens
9:00: First Workshops Begin
9-5: Public Areas/Stages Open
4:00: Last Workshops Begin
Celebrity Showroom
7:00: Doors Open
8:00: Victor & Penny Dance Concert with The Loose Change Orchestra & Bob Malone

Sunday, April 9
(Subject to change)

9:30: Strumoff Sendoff
11:00: See you next year for Number 10!

Cancellation policy:
Festival passes for the Reno Ukulele Festival may be cancelled and refunded through March 6, 2017, (30 days prior) without penalty.

Within 30 days of the festival, cancellations will incur a 20% cancellation fee, as many fees with the venue are based on attendance reservations and are no longer refundable to us.

No refunds will be made within a week of the festival. Concert tickets are non-refundable as they are a separate item sold by the Nugget.