about the music
and the band
Rick and Karen Maxson found inspiration for Uke 66 in their hometown of Springfield, MO, the birthplace of Route 66. Like the highway itself, the Maxsons believe that everyone can "get their kicks" from the unassuming and carefree music of the `ukulele.
The Maxsons created Uke 66 in 2014 to bring the joyful sound of `ukulele to public events and gatherings. Since then, they have been turning live `ukulele music into a spirited soundtrack for luaus, luncheons, weddings, corporate meetings, worship, and memorial services. The Maxsons have performed in festivals throughout the Midwest, California, Hawaii, Japan, Australia, Malaysia, and Mexico and won first place in solo and group divisions, and "Best Original Song," at the International Ukulele Contest in Honolulu (2019 & 2020).
Jazz, pop, Island styles, country, original tunes and covers -- everything from Chicago to L.A. is what you will find when you get your kicks from Uke 66.
// tenor `ukulele & vocals
Rick began his performance journey on the Queen Mary (Long Beach, CA) and Disneyland (Anaheim, CA) as a singer, dancer, and character. He also played guitar and sang at various venues throughout southern and central California. Then in 2010, after about 30 years serving as a college professor, Rick was introduced to the `ukulele while teaching a six-week graduate course at Schofield Army base on Oahu. Since that time, Rick has focused exclusively on `ukulele - performing, teaching, and club directing.
In 2019, Rick won first place in the open solo division of the International Ukulele Contest in Honolulu, where he also won best original song (Hedgehog Café). The following year, with Karen, the two of them won first place in the group division.
Rick’s `ukulele compositions and recordings have served as soundtracks for international promotional and educational videos and local parades. In 2019, Rick was awarded a commendation by his State Congressional Representative for his efforts to promote `ukulele culture to an international audience and was entered into the 116th Congressional Record.
//concert `ukulele & vocals
A longtime musician, Karen added `ukulele to her instrument repertoire in 2010, playing it as a reward for practicing her cello. She began as many do – strumming and singing in the privacy of her home – and it didn’t take long for her to realize she’d rather be playing the `ukulele than the cello (apologies to the cello teacher).
Three years later, she moved from California to Springfield, MO and began facilitating Springfield’s Queen City Ukulele Club at its twice monthly uke jams.
Karen completed the prestigious James Hill Ukulele Initiative in December, 2021, an 18-month `ukulele teacher training and accreditation program taught by world-renowned `ukuleleist James Hill. She then established the Ukulele Academy of the Ozarks LLC to provide `ukulele instruction to people of all ages. She presently directs the Mother Road `ukulele ensemble and the award-winning Queen City Ukulele Club.
// `ukulele bass
Karen and Rick are fortunate to have a number of musician friends who collaborate with them on recordings and performances. Most often they are joined by Scott Pope on `ukulele bass.
Scott has been providing the bassline for bands since 1976, playing across musical genres from jazz and rock to classical, sacred, folk, and pop. Scott balances his musical passion with his career: paralegal of a local law firm.
While his primary inspiration for bass playing comes from Sir Macca, Scott credits his great uncle for teaching him how to play the bass note on the down beat and the rest of the chord on the back beat on the guitar, back when he was a teenager, so he could accompany fiddle tunes. From that, Scott learned the importance of providing a solid musical foundation to any musical group, including `ukulele bands.
On any given weekend, Scott can be found playing his Kala brand U-Bass with Uke 66, providing the foundation for a full and exciting spectrum of sound.