About Reno Ukefest

Dani Joy & Perry Stauffer; Reno Ukefest's new producers!

The Biggest Little Ukefest in the West; the Legacy Continues

by Dani Joy

Reno was the first ukulele festival I ever attended. I had never heard of such a thing until my father Stu Herreid (RIP 2016) invited me to join him in the vendor room to assist with The Strum Shop’s new festival booth. I was instantly starstruck by the grand quality of the event. Rooms filled with joyful laughter and comradery, lesson rooms packed with eager students and enthusiastic teachers, and the late night jams that formed organically down the halls and played into the early hours of the morning. 

Back then I was a young instructor, having returned home with a degree in illustration and zero enthusiasm in working for someone else’s dream. Each year I would see festival producer Doug Reynolds and try my best to impress him, hoping he would one day put me on the stage. I’d begun teaching ukulele with very little music theory knowledge, but I learned quickly and took to teaching with a passion. One year Doug told my Dad that I could teach a kids class. I was so excited! The following year it was the beginner classes that I filled. 

My first performance was alone on the Public Stage. My time slot just so happened to be during the infamous RAFFLE and thus I opened my set with, “This one goes out to all the vendors”, who were sweetly looking on in support along with my mother and one other sweet lady. The following year I was back on the stage with my band Dani Joy & the Boys. Soon after that I met my husband Perry Stauffer and our duo was given the illustriative spot of “Lobby band”. Soon Doug invited us to play and teach at his Palm Strings Ukefest 2017. It was by the pool and we debuted a few original songs we’d written that year. The same evening, Doug walked up before the big show and said, “That performance you did today, THAT’S the reason why I’m adding you to the Celebrity Showroom Concert in Reno this year.” 

I felt like I’d finally made it! Perry and I went on to teach workshops and perform at Reno all the way up to the pandemic years. It was during those years that Doug called me and asked if Perry and I would be interested in taking over the festival. What a crazy twist of fate! We knew it was a huge responsibility and as we spent some time considering the offer, it became clear to us that this was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up and we felt confident that we could continue to offer an entertaining event, run from the persepective of two experienced artists. In 2022 we hosted the 14th annual Reno Ukfest and it was a smash! 

As the festival continues, we are endeavoring to include our patrons in the decision making with surveys and voted-upon suggested activities. Our patrons provide us with artist names who are of interest and workshop ideas that they would enjoy. We always make sure to schedule plenty of Open Mic’s for the participants to shine and each year we hope to create an unforgettable experience, for our long-time-supporters and our brand new festival attendees! 

Here’s to another 14 years of glorious community and ukulele fun!!


Previous Producer Doug Reynolds

Douglas Reynolds is the founder of the Reno Ukulele Festival, the Palm Strings Ukulele Festival, and multiple ukulele retreats throughout the west. He has also produced nearly a hundred concerts with some of the world's top musicians, picking their brains when he could to learn their tricks and trade secrets. He was inspired early in life to explore unique musical styles by his eccentric childhood guitar teacher, David Lindley, who remains a mentor and who went on to become a world-renowned multi-instrumentalist.  

Producing events interfered with Doug keeping up with guitar practice so, in 2005, he took up the ukulele, thinking that its shorter neck and fewer strings would provide a shortcut for guitar practice. Little did he know that the uke would change his life and that of his entire family!  

A few years ago, Doug began developing arthritis in his hands. He realized his days of lugging heavy speakers and producing events were numbered, but even more troubling was that playing guitar and ukulele had become painful and no longer enjoyable. So he began investigating new, less painful methods of playing music, seeking advice from his old mentor. Lindley suggested trying lap steel, but being that was more of a lead-playing instrument, Doug began envisioning a middle ground. He handed off the Reno Festival to its new caretakers, Dani Joy & Perry, and is launching his hybrid lap-uke instrument and playing method here at the festival.