Our First Annual Year-End Holiday Letter

Dear Friends and Fans,

The Seattle winter is dark and rainy, but we’ve had such a sparkly year. All that shiny stuff is great for reflection, so with a cup of coffee and a chocolate covered gingerbread cookie at hand, we’d like to look back and share the year that was.

In January, we debuted the current incarnation of the Castaways. Jim founded The Castaways via Craig’s List in 2010, but it’s taken some fine tuning to get it to the insane ukulele posse it is today. We had our first show together at C&P Coffee in West Seattle and we packed the house. We’re booked to play there again in March 2013 and we love the home town vibe, the hospitality, and they brew a righteous cup of joe. Pam could not have asked for a better first time out with the band, it was an auspicious start to a great year.

We picked up two (semi) regular gigs around springtime, one at Pete’s local java joint, Urban Coffee Lounge (UCL) in Juanita and one at Forza Coffee, right across the street from Greenlake. UCL is where we met fellow ukesters Marilyn and The G-Strings, another uke act that likes their wine (hey, they say so themselves!). We’re always psyched when they show up to see us play. We also can’t say enough good things about Forza, Murray and Skip (the house manager) treat us right and we have a special place in our hearts for Skip after that one time when he said this: “Can you guys turn it up? We want you to blow the doors off!”

We played Key Arena… the steps.
It counts.

Crashing headlong into summer, we opened the Ukulele Showcase at Folklife. What a good time — and an honor, really, to be part of such a great tradition of ukulele music in Seattle. We stuck around and played Elvis tunes with the good people of the Seattle Ukulele Players Association. For all of our summer gigs, we had something that new bands can only dream of, a roadie. Not just any roadie, but a roadie with a good grasp of grammar. (We have unusual requirements.) He left us for educatin’ in August and not a gig goes past where we don’t say, “Whatever with college. When do we get our roadie back?”

We slowed down a little bit in the fall — three out of five Castaways went to Hawaii during that time — but we picked right up around Thanksgiving and we ended the year with a slew of gigs we had not anticipated. Our grand total for the year, by the time the 31st goes flying off the calendar in that old movie way? A whopping 40 shows. Whoa. That’s an average of 3.3 shows a month and it doesn’t include weekly practice time. We have, it seems, survived a staggering amount of quality time together.

Jim got a new uke. Ed got a new uke. Pam got stomp-boxes and a tiara. Mark got bling for his fretboard. Pete got several hats; this is significant because in January, he stated, emphatically: “I do not wear hats.”

Sixer, our CD. Get one at a show.

We made stuff, too. We made a CD — Mark recorded and mixed it, Ed made the art, Pam wrote the liner notes, and we all made the music, of course. Jim and Ed worked together to make a lot of new tunes for us. Ed made a bunch of.. uh… things. A suitcase kickdrum. A pickup and the device we’re calling the 3am Epiphany for the didgeridoo that Jim made out of plumbing. (Just come to a show, you kind of have to see it.) A truly remarkable collection of posters for our shows. We started a newsletter that Pete now writes monthly. We remodeled our website and added this blog. We got t-shirts, Ed did the art on the guys’ shirts, Pam did the art on the gals’. We shot footage for a video that we hope to release in the New Year.  Mark made the custom WordPress theme we use for the site and the software we use for our set lists. We made a wall of unstoppable ukulele rock and roll whenever we had the chance.

…and on the grill, Chef Theirry!

We also made a lot of new friends. A grill playing French chef. A Seattle music producer. A traveling photographer. A Hawaiian ukulele maker. And you. It has been a barn-burner of a year for Seattle’s loudest ukulele band. We hope your year has been grand too, and we wish you the best for what’s to come in 2013.

Unless the Mayans were right and the world ends on December 21st. If that’s the end of the world as we know it, we feel fine — we’ve got a show booked on that date. We are going to go out rocking. We suggest you do the same.

The Castaways at The Geekwire Gala: Ed, Jim, Pam, Pete, Mark

Ed, Jim, Mark, Pam, and Pete thank you for your support this year and wish you the best for 2013. Rock on.