John Bartlit

John Bartlit was first introduced to us as one the fabulous Smoking Jackets, one of the most energetic, creative, and fresh acts to hit the ukulele circuit in years… no small part due to John’s amazing talent to make wonderful music with just about anything you hand him, including, it turns out, an ‘ukulele.  So, not only will John be performing at Velo Vino on Sunday afternoon with Heidi Swedberg and Daniel Ward (the other Smoking Jacket), he will be gracing the classrooms at Wine Country with a number of new and original workshops: Fun Strums 101, Beat It!, and Let It Be.

Based in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, John Bartlit, is known far and wide as an accomplished jazz drummer and brings an infectious joy to the stage, whether he is playing a traditional percussion instrument or something he found amusing in the plumbing department of a hardware store. Not only does he perform on an astonishing variety of “instruments,” but his repertoire, both as a performer and composer stretches from modern chamber music to Central American folk music to vaudeville and, now, to Wine Country.

He has been a classical percussionist, composer, producer, visual artist, clown, playwright, and accompanist with a variety of musical groups and professional dance companies and, it turns out, he is no slouch on the ukulele, either. And all that talent and experience and will be brought to bear when he joins us at the Wine Country Ukulele Festival in September.

Here’s a little taste of what he’ll be teaching:


Once you know a chord or two you can play hundreds of songs, but they will all sound the same until you learn to have fun with strums.  Easy rhythmic variations will give your playing style!  Don’t let the up-and-downs bring you down: Island Style, Latin Slap and Do-Whack-A-Do are all ready, able, and available for you! (Level 1 – 2)


Four-on-the-floor, Bo-Diddley, Backbeat, Shuffle…You may never tune your strings again once you learn to play these rhythms on your ukulele.  In this intermediate level workshop, John Bartlit distills his 30-years’ experience as a sought-after drummer into essential rhythm parts you can play using only your body and your ukulele. (No fancy gizmos required.) Here is a chance to explore a new way to enjoy your instrument and become the backbone of your ukulele ensemble by taking over the drum throne! (Level 3)


Speaking words of wisdom, John Bartlitt will teach the technique of chord melody using the classic Beatles tune “Let It Be” as a foundation. Among other things, you will discover how a song can lay nicely on the 4-strings, how to coax the melody out of the structure of the chords, and a number of techniques that will make the melody sing. And voila.  You will no longer find yourself in times of trouble. (Level  3 – 4)

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