The Ukulele Club of Santa Cruz

The ukulele scene in Santa Cruz has really grown since the founding of the Ukulele Club of Santa Cruz in January of 2002. Before that, the only ukulele events in town were the once a year springtime party in Peter and Donna Thomas’ living room, or the small crowd gathered around Ukulele Dick as he performed for First Night. Today things are different. Besides the original, and world famous, third Thursday Ukulele Club meetings at Bocci’s Cellar, there are smaller gatherings of ukulele players almost every day of the week, as well as annual and semi-annual events.

The Ukulele Club of Santa Cruz maintains a Facebook page that you can like. Rhan Wilson publishes the Uke List, a weekly newsletter with events, advice, for sale, etc. You can subscribe on the site to receive the Uke List as a weekly email. Following is a listing of the public ukulele gatherings in town (last updated 7/2019).

Where to Play and Listen

Sons of the Beach

Every Saturday 10am-12pm. Sing and play along. On the sand at the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor near the Crow’s Nest.

See their website for more information

Capitola Ukulele Player’s Acoustic String Ensemble

Every Sunday, 10-11:30 am. Sing and play along. At the Bandstand in Capitola’s Esplanade Park.

See Facebook page.

Club Meeting

Third Thursday of the Month 5:30 – 8:30pm

Bocci’s Cellar 140 Encinal St, Santa Cruz

Ukulele and Other Instrument Club

First Thursday of the month 6-7:30pm. Jug Band Music sing along

The Food Lounge. 1001 Center St. Santa Cruz.

Ukulele Party

Second Wednesday of the month. 6:30 pm. Various performers and events.

See Ukulele Club’s Facebook for monthly information.

Even More Places to Play and Listen

Smouldering Uke

Registration is now OPEN for Smoldering Uke 2020
Thursday, March 12 Sunday March 15, 2020

The Ukulele Club of Santa Cruz is proud to announce our 11th annual Smoldering Uke winter retreat event at the Hidden Valley Music Seminars campus in beautiful Carmel Valley, CA. As always, we’re featuring numerous workshops on a variety of musical topics taught by talented musicians, as well as organized play- and sing-alongs. All events are aimed at helping you to become a better ukulele player—regardless of ability level—as well as enhance your overall enjoyment of the instrument. There’s also plenty of free time between workshops for impromptu jams, chatting with friends (or making new ones). Our evening programs promise to be as entertaining as ever, with quite a few fun surprises in store. Register soon (we sell out early every year) so you won’t miss out on one of the most fun ukulele events on the planet!

Accommodations for Smoldering Uke include on-campus single- or double-occupancy dorm rooms, as well as hotel rooms at the Hidden Valley Inn next door. RV parking is also available, as are meal packages for those who wish to attend the full event, but will provide their own overnight lodgings.

For pricing information and to register for Smoldering Uke, follow this link to Hidden Valley’s website.

Making Music With Our Friends

One Saturday in June and August, dates to be announced
Eat, Sing Dance and be Merry. Potluck, dance band, and a sing along.

Burning Uke

Due to pandemic concerns the 2020 Burning Uke will be canceled.
Burning Uke


Marty Carlson:
Group lessons:
Highland Park: Fridays 11-12
Scotts Valley Senior Center: Tuesday 9-10
Email Marty

Michelle Kiba:
Group lessons at the Santa Cruz Art League 5 nights a week.
Michelle Kiba’s website

Barbara Sonnenshine:
Private lessons or small group lessons.
Email Barbara

Peter Thomas
Group Lessons:
Link to information

Rhan Wilson:
Private lessons
Group lessons: The All In Good Time Orchestra
Wednesdays 6-8pm. $20.
Email to sign up and to get directions.

About The Ukulele Club of Santa Cruz

A short review by Stanley Sokolow

In January of 2002, when Andy Andrews and Peter Thomas first invited folks to meet at Peter’s house in Santa Cruz, California, to start a ukulele club, they expected only a handful to appear, but to their surprise and delight, 20 to 30 showed up. Thus the Ukulele Club of Santa Cruz was born. Named with an acronym matching that of the local university, they claimed the club was the “UCSC where you could get a real (ukulele) education,” the first monthly Third Thursday meetings consisted of everyone playing a few songs together following the chord and lyrics on song sheets they handed out, entertainment by accomplished ukulele musicians, a little ukulele education, and of course good company, while eating and drinking at the pub where they held the meetings.

And from those humble beginnings the club has grown over the years to claim hundreds, maybe even thousands, of fun-loving ukulele players in its ranks, meeting on various days, for various reasons, in various venues all over Santa Cruz County. And there is always room for more: if you want to get more involved, start up a new ukulele band, a new weekly sing along, or just host a party, go for it! We will help you let everyone know about your ideas and plans.

The first rule of Ukulele Club of Santa Cruz was, “there are no rules,” and that rule has served the club well. There’s no formality, no dues, no by-laws, no roster, you just show up with your ukulele at any of the places ukulele players gather in Santa Cruz, join in the fun, and you are a member. (That said you can signup for email notifications using contact form, or read about all the local activity on Ukelist, or check out the Facebook page). Beginners need not feel unworthy – the volume of the many ukuleles strumming along will mask any little mistakes you make. Peter Thomas said to me the other day, “The club has lasted much longer than Andy or I ever imagined in our wildest dreams.” It’s still going strong, like a big family with lots of siblings, there are more ukulele things happening in Santa Cruz than anywhere in the world (at least per capita.) So if you’re anywhere nearby, or even far away but yearning for the fun, come to Santa Cruz, to one of the events listed on this web site, and join in the fun.


Join the mailing list