Switching sites!

http://www.craigchee.com should take you to the new site! This wordpress site will be shutting down soon. Please check out the new website and let me know what you think.

Aloha,

Craig

Major Update Coming Soon!

There are a TON of things happening (hence the lack of updates in a while) but will have the new site up and running soon!

Aloha,

Craig

New CD!

First off, after getting back from Cairns, I’ve been working hard all summer with my producer Tyler Fortier on the new album. We have finally finished it and it is available right now at CraigChee.BandCamp.com

I’ll have a huge write up about the project and all the amazing people that helped me in the next post. It will soon be up on iTunes and Google Play but for now BandCamp is the only place to get it digitally. You can email me to order physical copies or come see me at a ukefest :)

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Cairns Ukulele Festival 2013 Day 10-11 + Wrap Up

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*Again, a link to all my photos from the festival: All of my Cairns Ukefest 2013 photos!

The final days of the Cairns Ukulele Festival 2013.

What an amazing time… I always seem to be very reflective when I’m back from a long trip, but right now I’m being blasted with so many different emotions. I guess you could say I am bursting with a renewed vigor, a better sense of direction and surprisingly a bit of relief.   Ah, and maybe a punch to the face with inspiration.

We had such an incredible group this year. With Bryan Tolentino (with his beautiful wife Kalehua), Halehaku Seabury, Sarah Maisel, Ryan Imamura, the crew from KoAloha (Alan & Paul Okami, Griz) along with Australia’s Montgomery Brothers (Ryo & Damo), Thom Jackson and Tiffany Smith, we all connected so well. For about a week, all of us pretty much lived together, ate together, shared songs, stories and more. I could sit and listen to any of these musicians all day, but to have them all join me on stage… just an amazing feeling. They all feel like family.

That’s pretty much the last 2 days in a nutshell. Sharing of songs, sharing of hula, a blend of so many genres and backgrounds connected by the one instrument that many of us love so much. Thank you Gaby for putting this all together as well as to all the great volunteers for making this great festival happen!

I do wish I had more of a chance to hang out with the amazing Flap! or the Sweet Hollywaiians (who rocked it just as hard as when I met them 2 years ago!). Flap! from Australia has a great sound, I hope to do some collaborations with them if I’m back in the future. With the Sweet Hollywaiians, we got to spend a beautiful dinner together (thanks again Alan!) and they are just as friendly and funny as they are on stage. I was so happy to catch up with them and I’m so glad they are doing well. I promised I’d cook for them the next time they pass through Oregon so they don’t have to rely on Panda Express :)

One of the hardest parts about this festival is trying to do everything and be everywhere! There is so much going on during the week that if I don’t manage my time right, it completely wipes me out! This was the case last year where I was just trying to do too much but did not allow myself to rest in-between. There is a lot to balance for me, first we have all the promotional stuff (radio/tv/newspaper etc), the special events like the Green Island concert, Mystery Bus, etc, trying to find and catch up with old friends/attendees and get to know new attendees, take photos at every event, spend time with other artists, practice for the concerts (usually with some new collaborations on the spot), catch new acts/groups, cursing the dozens of $2 coins in your pocket that are dragging your pants down,  all while adjusting to the climate/time change. It can be quite the challenge! This year I had a lot more balance and although I still couldn’t be everywhere, I think I did the most I could.

There are many things that I am doing now that I did not expect to be doing a few years ago. And the relief I mentioned earlier, only refers to the fact that I have been able not only survive the past few years but slowly work towards my goals. Using my first time in Cairns 2 years ago as a benchmark, I am definitely relieved and excited that I followed through with my decision to pursue music full time.

I can’t believe I’ve been able to share the stage with so many legendary artists in the past couple years, travel as much as I do (not a lot compared to some others, but enough at the moment for me!) and to not only perform but to teach! Lessons have picked up so much and have provided me a chance to focus on creating and working on new music and I am incredibly grateful that my workshops have received such glowing reviews. I do take a lot of pride in my teaching and I’m glad to see the work spent on the workshops has paid off. Though I’m not playing nearly as much publicly in Eugene, it makes the shows that much more exciting throughout the year. There has been an increase in private party gigs though which has been fun! I think once the new album is complete, I’ll again make the shift in performing more and teaching less.

I hope to be working with these artists much sooner than later again! I’ll be seeing Sarah Maisel soon during her August west coast tour and at the Wine Country Ukefest!

It’s going to be quite a packed end to 2013 with some new announcements soon to come! Special thanks to DaSilva Ukuleles, again to Gaby, the volunteers and all of the attendees, thank you for your support! The biggest thanks to my parents for putting up with my shenanigans and being so incredibly supportive. I am incredibly fortunate to be able to follow my dreams and I hope I can inspire others to follow theirs too!

Much Love and Aloha,

Craig

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Cairns Ukulele Festival 2013 Day 4-9 (I fell behind!)

I have been having way too much fun at this year’s ukefest and have fell behind on my updates! I’ll be sure to leave a ton of photos at the end of this post to make up for it! If you’re interested in all of the photos I have been taking, please frequent here:

My Cairns Ukefest 2013 photos!

If you’re interested in my personal experiences, keep reading! Since I last wrote, the other festival artists have been arriving. Sarah Maisel, Ryan Imamura, Bryan Tolentino, Halehaku Seabury, Thom Jackson as well as the KoAloha crew (Alan Tagama, Alan and Paul Okami) have been hanging out and sharing a lot of music.

I have also been seeing many familiar faces from those who live in Cairns and those who travel many miles each year to be here. It feels like a big family reunion! I must say, the artist line up this year is incredible… I feel so honored to be a part of this crew.

Ryan has taken everyone by surprise and has come out strong with his take on pop music and high energy performances. Keep an eye out on this guy, he is only going to get better and better. Bryan and Hale have been so inspiring to watch. When they perform, I am reminded why music was so important in my life growing up in Hawai’i. They remind me of why I wanted to play music, the sharing, the raw joy of creating something spontaneous. I can’t wait for their full set on Sunday night.

Sarah I believe has become even more confident and comfortable wow-ing a mass of people with both her personality and music. She is such a fun person to even just be around. I am so happy that she made it down for this festival. She’s been such a pleasure to work with the past few months and am so proud of her success.

Thom Jackson has still been keeping up with his great performance skill and even the KoAloha gang is spreading the aloha not only with their great uke building workshop but singing and doing hula too! Such a fun time to be had by all!

I need to make a special shout out to the Montgomery Brothers… What an incredible duo of musicians. Hopefully I’ll have some videos to post after my concert with them tomorrow night. They are so versatile and add so much to the many performers they are helping to back up. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the festival events are getting better and more efficient. We had a great time at Green Island (I didn’t get extremely sea sick this year!!!) and the mystery tour bus today. I can’t wait to see what Gaby (Cairns Ukefest director) thinks of next! I could go on and on, but I need to catch up on sleep with some early workshops tomorrow morning, the world record attempt in the afternoon and my performance at Union Jack at night. Will try and update soon. Weather is beautiful, the people are lovely as ever, music is flowing, and laughs are to be had. This is Cairns. IMG_2508 IMG_2515 IMG_3194 IMG_3195 IMG_3216 IMG_3226 IMG_3334 IMG_3346 IMG_3359 IMG_3360 IMG_3362 IMG_3363 IMG_3370 IMG_3382 IMG_3431 IMG_3444 IMG_3469 IMG_3028 IMG_3065 IMG_3075 IMG_3130 IMG_3148 IMG_3169 IMG_3172 IMG_3173 IMG_3175 IMG_3182 IMG_3186 IMG_3188 IMG_3191 IMG_2504 IMG_2500 IMG_2503 IMG_2954 IMG_2968 IMG_2971 IMG_2972 IMG_2992 IMG_2994 IMG_2995 IMG_2483 IMG_2484 IMG_2837 IMG_2847 IMG_2850 IMG_2866 IMG_2871 IMG_2878 IMG_2882

Cairns Ukulele Festival 2013 Day 2-3

Day 2-3

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Despite the airline drama making it over, there was plenty of fun to be had on the opening of the Cairns Ukefest 2013! 53+ straight hours of either being on a plane, or at an airport… But all is good! Cairns is looking incredibly beautiful and I’m hoping the amazing weather stays throughout the week.

 

With the time difference and the lost day at the airport, a few hours after I landed and with maybe 20 minutes of a crash rehearsal with the Montgomery Brothers and Tiffany Ann Smith (they are some of my favorite musicians in the whole world!) off we went to open the festival. It was a good warmup for the big show at the Jacks next weekend where we will also be playing with Australia’s own, “Flap!” Many surprises to work on through the week in-between all the festival events.

 

It was great to see so many familiar faces… Cairns really is like a second home for me. With the first event out of the way, expect many more photos and videos throughout the week!

 

Cheers!

 

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Cairns Ukefest 2013 – Day 1

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Day 1

 

I did not expect to have such a hectic first day! It started off with getting an email 5 hours before my flight from Eugene to San Francisco that my flight was canceled. I then was told to rush to the airport to make an earlier connecting flight. I was then told that flight was also cancelled. From there it just got worse. 

 

-Was put on another carrier to Portland to try and make the SanFran to Sydney flight. 

-Was booted off two of those flights 

-Managed to get to SanFran, ran to next gate, agent there laughed saying I was just a few seconds late as he just closed the door

-Was told to wait in line for customer service which ended up being a 2 hour wait (by this time it was about 1am, I started the adventure at 1pm)

-Was told all hotels were booked

-Was also informed that they weren’t sure what happened to my bags

-My heart dies a little

-Am reminded of last year where my bags fell off the face of the Earth for 4 days. 

-Stay up all night in vacant airport

-Rebook my flights (Jetstar was happy to charge another $300 to change my flight from Sydney to Cairns)

-Head up to the United Club Room where I will spend the next 15 hours hopefully sleeping before my flight to Sydney is ready

 

That is where I am at right now :)

15 hour wait, 15 hour flight, 3 hour layover, 3 hour flight, 2 hours of rest and then off to perform at the opening night of the Cairns Ukefest! 

 

All in all, I’m staying very positive. I have a huge grin knowing I’m so close to seeing some of the most amazing people in the world. I think the biggest thing I got from this situation is how much has changed at United (and maybe other airlines? I’ve mainly traveled with United my whole life). Back in the day I remember how incredible the stewards and stewardess were. They knew each passenger who had a close connecting flight and relayed not only the gate number they needed to run to but gave directions how to get there and called ahead to that gate knowing they were on the way. They’d also make sure everyone who wasn’t in a rush let them through. Last night, the response I got when I asked the stewardess to check on the flight status of my connecting flight (it was going to be super close) she scoffed and said someone should have worked with me on that already and walked off. After sprinting to the gate, the agent there laughed and said if I was 5 seconds earlier I would have made it but he just closed the door. My heart just sank. 

 

Just a little disappointed. But regardless! If everything stays on track, I’ll still make it for the first performance and everything will be groovy! “Here I am, with a smile on my face!”

 

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