Evening with Jake Shimabukuro 2/13/18

Tuesday, February 13 2018 6:00pm Doors / 8:00PM Start / Ends 9:30PM
Tue Feb 13 2018

Evening with Jake Shimabukuro 2/13/18

at Venue




Jake Shimabukuro can still vividly remember the first time he held a
ukulele, at age four. It was an encounter that would shape his destiny
and give the world one of the most exceptional and innovative uke
players in the history of the instrument—an artist who has drawn
comparisons to musical titans such as Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis.

“My mom played, and I kept bugging her to teach me,” he recalls. “So
one day we sat down on the floor and she put her old Kamaka ukulele in
my hands. I remember being so nervous. Then she showed me how to
strum the strings and taught me my first chord. I fell in love with the
ukulele immediately. From that day on, you had to pry the instrument
away from me in order to get me to do anything else.”

That first brush with musical fate took place in Honolulu, Hawai’i, where
Jake was born and still makes his home. Growing up, he studied and
played a number of other musical instruments—drums, piano and guitar.
“But none of those instruments spoke to me the way the ukulele did,” he
says. “There was something about the uke that was different. Music was
my passion, but I had no idea that I could make it as a musician. I always
thought that maybe I’d be a school teacher and incorporate music into
the classroom, rather than being on a stage performing in front of

Of course, Shimabukuro would end up performing on many of the world’s
most renowned stages. Starting his career in Hawai’i, he took his
inspiration from some of the islands’ great uke players—Eddie Kamae,
Ohta-San and Peter Moon. But he quickly expanded his scope from
there, drawing influences from across the musical spectrum.

“As I got older,” he says, “I realized that I could also learn from guitar
players, drummers, violinists, pianists, singers and even dancers. And
then I started to observe athletes. Athletes are artists too. I was heavily
influenced by people like Bruce Lee and Michael Jordan - applying their
philosophy and intense, mental focus to music performance.”

As a member of the group Pure Heart, Shimabukuro became a local
phenomenon. From Hawai’i, his fame next spread to Japan. He was
signed to Epic Records (Sony/Japan) in 2001 as a solo artist. It was the
start of what would become a deep catalog of solo albums, noted for
their dazzling fretwork, ambitious repertoire and wistful melodicism. And
in 2005, Shimabukuro became an international phenomenon when a
video of him performing the George Harrison song “While My Guitar
Gently Weeps” went viral on YouTube.

“At the time, I didn’t even know what YouTube was,” Jake laughs.
“Nobody did, especially in Hawai’i. But I had some friends who were
going to college on the mainland and they sent me a link to the video. By
the time I saw it, it already had millions of views. My name wasn’t even
on it then. All it said was ‘Asian guy shreds on ukulele,’ or something like
that. That’s what opened up the doors to touring in North America,
Europe, Asia and beyond. It was a big turning point for me.”

By adapting a guitar hero anthem for the ukulele (Eric Clapton had
played lead guitar on the Beatles’ original recording) Shimabukuro made
a significant statement: The ukulele, with its humble four strings and
modest two-octave range, is an instrument limited only by the
imagination and creativity of the person playing it. Along with his own
original compositions, Jake became noted for his solo uke arrangements
of such varied pieces as Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Schubert's
“Ave Maria” and Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”

“A lot of those are just songs that I really love,” he says. “I’d sit at home
and work out how to play some of them on the ukulele. A lot of it is for
my own curiosity. I always wondered, ‘Man, what would “Bohemian
Rhapsody” sound like on a ukulele?’ And then it’s my stubborn nature
not to give up until I’d figured out how to do it.”

Widespread acclaim brought high-visibility collaborations with a wide
range of artists including Yo-Yo Ma, Jimmy Buffett, Bette Midler, Cyndi
Lauper, Jack Johnson, Ziggy Marley, Dave Koz, Michael McDonald, Bela
Fleck and the Flecktones, Tommy Emmanuel, and Marty Friedman.
Jake Shimabukuro has topped Billboard’s World Music Chart on
numerous occasions, and has sold out prestigious venues and festivals
such as the Hollywood Bowl, Lincoln Center, Sydney Opera House, Wolf
Trap, Bonnaroo, SXSW, and the Playboy Jazz Festival. He even played
for Queen Elizabeth II at The Royal Variety Performance in Blackpool,

Shimabukuro’s busy touring schedule—140 dates a year—is
complemented by a rich and varied catalog of albums that capture the
many moods of the uke. His most recent CD, Nashville Sessions, is one
of his most adventurous, multifaceted and engaging records to date,
blending elements of jazz virtuosity with heartfelt melodicism.

A husband and father of two, Jake balances his stellar career with
family life and community service. He travels to schools around the
world spreading positive messages to young people, encouraging them
to live drug free and find their passion—just as he did at age four when
his mother gave him his first ukulele lesson. In the time since then, he
has played a key role in the current revival of interest in the ukulele.

“When I first started touring the mainland,” he recalls, “everybody would
say, ‘Oh man, I didn’t know you could play that kind of music on that
thing.’ But now there are so many iconic artists playing the ukulele, like
Paul McCartney, Eddie Vedder, Train, Jimmy Buffett, Michael McDonald,
Dave Mathews and Taylor Swift. Even popular cartoons like ‘Peg + Cat’
and ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ have ukulele soundtracks. The popularity
of the ukulele keeps growing every year. And I’m constantly discovering
new sounds, styles and expressive possibilities within the instrument
through projects like the Nashville Sessions album. By the time we
finished that recording, I already had tons of ideas for the next album. I
can’t wait to get back into the studio and experiment some more.”