Colin Gailey recently met his real American idol. The Santa Cruz native was a winner in the Master Satriani competition, hosted by Guitar Center, and met the man himself as part of the winning package.

Gailey, 30, received a call from Guitar Center representative Jake Cheung, telling him he was handpicked by Satriani as one of 10 finalists.

"I think my heart skipped a few beats," he said. "I was elated."

He was flown to Hollywood, where he was put up in a plush Standard hotel, received an Ibanez Joe Satriani guitar and, best of all, hung out with and learned from Satriani.

"It was surreal," Gailey said. "It was a little intimidating at first to be around someone who has achieved so much, but he put us all at ease with his humble and sincere demeanor. He has been a hero of mine since I first saw him live when I was 14."

To enter the Master Satriani competition, participants had to create a YouTube video of themselves playing guitar to one of Satriani's songs. The contest consisted of three stages, beginning with a social media ranking round where each musician's popularity was tracked through YouTube, Facebook and Soundcloud fan growth. After the social media round, a panel of industry professionals judged the entrants on overall performance, authenticity, technique and style. The final 10 winners were handpicked by Joe Satriani himself.

Music is nothing new to Gailey, who's been playing guitar for half of his life. He makes a living teaching music and performing, plays in local funk/reggae band Coastal Sage and released his debut solo album "Lucid Dream" in 2010. What was a new experience was meeting a legend like Satriani.

"The experience of meeting Joe has inspired me to whole new level," Gailey said. "He said some very kind things about my playing that will continue to inspire and remind me that I'm doing the right thing to follow my dream."

Young writers get published

Bookshop Santa Cruz recently released a published book of all of the winning entries from its third annual Young Writers Contest. With 15 original works by young writers ages 6-17, the book showcases the writing and storytelling talent of young people in the community. This year, the book was published on Bookshop Santa Cruz's Espresso Book Machine, which prints books on demand in the store in less than 10 minutes.

The honorees were selected from more than 150 entries in a range of genres. Finalists were judged by local children's book author Jill Wolfson. Honorees received a gift certificate to Bookshop along with a copy of the book. Bookshop Santa Cruz is also donating a copy of the book to each honoree's school library.

Here are the 2012 honorees:

Ages 6-9: first place: Amma Escalante; second place: Armando Vasquez-Green; third place: Jennifer Leishman; honorable mention: Johann Brooks and Sara Laurent.

Ages 10-13: first place: Kahlo Smith; second place: Zara Brandt; third place: Sam Kawatsure, Cian Murray, Griffin Crossman and Owen McKeon; honorable mention: Jasper Barnes and Ruby Bracher.

Ages 14-17: first place: Christina Mills; second place: Chloe Tsudama; third place: Per Wessels; honorable mention: Rhiannon Janeschild and Daniel M.

Next year's contest will be launched on May 20, and entries will be accepted until Sept. 22. Find more information on the contest and entry forms at www.bookshopsantacruz.com/young-writers-contest.

Christmas in Capitola

Santa made a special stop in Capitola earlier this month at Uncle Nathan's Day, held at the Capitola Mercantile.

The annual event was hosted by Capitola Mercantile owner Peter Dwares and supported Adopt a Special Kid Foundation, a nonprofit that provides support services for adoptive and foster-care families. Capitola Mayor Mike Termini dressed up as Santa Claus and delivered gifts to the kids. The event included lunch, a bounce house, arts and crafts and entertainment by Lulu the clown. More than 100 children supported by the nonprofit came to enjoy a special day dedicated to them.

An evening of sweets and songs

The Daisy Auxiliary hosted its annual Christmas party in the home of Karla and Sam Nigh earlier this month. About 100 people attended the event, where they enjoyed hors d'oeuvres and desserts while they sang Christmas carols. Joyce Anderson-Fendorf and Ann Morey coordinated this event.

The auxiliary supports Family Service Agency of the Central Coast through proceeds from its Capitola boutique, the Daisy Store.

Tune in to support local winery

Baggage Battles, a new show on Travel Channel, recently visited Santa Cruz County and filmed a segment that featured Alfaro Winery. We had a photo in last week's Name Dropping. The segment is slated to air at 8 p.m. Jan. 16 on the Travel Channel.

Got a story to tell, an event to report, an award to announce? Tell Justine. Write to Name Dropping, Santa Cruz Sentinel, 1800 Green Hills Road, Suite 210, Scotts Valley, CA 95066; fax to 429-9620; or email sentinelnamedropping@gmail.com.