Tuneful Tales–Maggie Matoba

A Renaissance woman who works tirelessly on social justice issues—that’s Maggie Matoba. Her varied and interesting background includes work as a musician, horticultural therapist, teacher, non-profit founder, LCC agricultural business advisor, travel agent, master gardener, and co-owner of a landscaping business.

She considers herself lucky to have been able to make her hobbies into her life’s work. And although she has had a dizzying array of jobs, none have been the conventional “nine-to-five.” Instead she has been active in a wide range of art activities. According to Maggie, peoples’ lives can be changed through artistic endeavors such as music and gardening, so she is committed to giving back to the community by offering these opportunities as long as she is able.

Maggie was born in Hollywood, California and lived and worked in Southern California until she moved to Eugene in 1978. Her family owned a restaurant in Los Angeles (Little Tokyo), the Atomic Café, that served Hawaiian, Japanese, Chinese, and American food. The restaurant’s customers were a real cultural mix, and since she started working in the restaurant when she was seven, she learned much socially, musically and culturally.

Guitar is her first instrument and she is mostly self-taught, starting in high school when her boyfriend gave her a few lessons. She also learned to play the tambura with the sons of Ali Akbar Khan who played Indian Classical music. Southern California had a huge music scene at that time, and because she also loved jazz, folk, R & B, and funk music, she found her way into various clubs in Hollywood and along the Sunset Strip. One of her interesting jobs after high school was at SIR, Studio Instrument Rentals, a rehearsal studio. As administrative secretary, Maggie helped book rehearsal space for well-known bands and artists such as the Journey, Rod Stewart, and Earth, Wind & Fire.

Having moved to Eugene, Maggie began to learn to play ‘ukulele with Hawaiians in the area. She also plays the Kona Walking Stick Bass, banjo, and studies slack key guitar with Jeff Peterson. In the early 2000’s, she wanted to find others to play Hawaiian music, so Maggie put the word out and Mele ‘Ohana was formed. Out of that group, “Ukes for Kids” was created to raise money to buy ukuleles for school and community groups. Mele ‘Ohana continues to be a vital part of the Eugene community.

Presently, Maggie teaches ‘ukulele privately and at the Shedd, Hawaiian arts and culture through Lane Arts Council, is an advisor at the LCC Agricultural Business Management Center, plays in ‘Olekona, a group that includes Neal Chin, Jerry Gleason, Jon Labrousse, and Matthew Riley, plus hula dancers that join occasionally. On top of all that, she works as a horticultural therapist in various situations in the Eugene area, and continues in the landscape business with her husband.

Although she never seeks the limelight, Maggie has a wealth of knowledge, expertise and experience she never hesitates to share. Eugene is lucky to have a woman of such energy and commitment.

–Pat Knaus

What’s in the Case (all the instruments Maggie owns and uses)


Lanikai 8 string concert

Kala 4 string mango tenor

Martin 4 string soprano vintage

Kamaka 4 string soprano

Lanikai 4 string baritone


Guitars (Acoustic 6 strings)             (Electric)

Yamaha FG 332                                 Guitar Traveler Ultra-Light

Taylor GS Mini Mahogany              Kala Guitarlele

Taylor Big Baby

Taylor Baby

Custom Parlor Koa/Bear Claw Cedar Cutaway


Taka Custom 5-string banjo

Hawaiian Ipu & Ipu Heke (gourd drums) and hula implements


Percussion box: Bell tree, guiro, cabasa, maracas, shakers, rain stick

Kona 3-string Walking Stick Bass Bouzouki

Yamaha PS600 Electric Keyboard


Roland KC Bass Amp

Roland Microcube Bass Amp

Boss GE-7 Equalizer

Shure BETA 58A Vocal Mic

Elixir POLYWEB 11050 Light Acoustic

Yamaha MG10/2 Mixing Console

Mogami Gold Instrument and Mic, Monster Classic, Live Wire


Shark All-instrument chromatic tuner

Aquila strings 15u Tenor, Red Series Low, 89 Series for Baritone

GH Hawaiian strings for Soprano


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