Forget what you know about the humble ukulele.
Sure, the four-stringed instrument is the backbone of any Hawaiian song, but Jake Shimabukuro is out to show the world that the ukulele can play everything from Don Ho’s Tiny Bubbles to Michael Jackson’s Thriller–and sometimes both at the same time!
(Email subscribers, click this link to see some amazing videos of Jake)
When Sheila and I discovered that Jake was coming to Raleigh, NC we bought two tickets faster than you could say “jumping fleas.” That was back in the summer of 2010 and so the anticipation had been building up to his concert this past Saturday. We set high expectations and Jake exceeded them…and then some!
A humble, you could say mild-mannered, Jake stepped onto the PineCone.org stage with just his tenor ukulele and then spent the next two hours thrilling the audience with some of the songs that have made him famous–as well as some great new tracks he wrote for his new album Peace Love Ukulele.
No backing band. No fancy stage set-up. Just Jake wowing the sold-out audience with his amazing ukulele skills.
In between each song, he’d tell us a little about the background of the tune he was about to play. Five Dollars Unleaded? Back when you could fill up a car in Hawaii for just five bucks, Jake’s dad always seemed to be low on gas. The song tells the story of the highs of driving around with a full tank, then the lows of almost running out of gas, before filling up and getting back on the road.
143, tells the story of pre-cell phone days when you would send the code “143” to your loved-one’s pager to tell them that you love them. Bring Your Adz, Go For Broke, Trapped, and Boy Meets Girl are all fantastic tracks that Jake had similar engaging stories to tell the audience.
For hardcore fans, Jake played Me & Shirley T., Hallelujah, and of course, the song that made him an internet phenomenon; While My Guitar Gently Weeps (my personal favorite).
(Email subscribers: click here for the video.)
The show was simply stunning, and the playlist would have been enough to satisfy us both and cement us as true Shimabukuro fans. But, the best was yet to come–at least for us. Towards the end of his set, Jake took the time to give Sheila a personal birthday shootout. Calling her an “amazing Hawaii travel writer,” Jake wished her a happy birthday. The reason I am writing this review and not Sheila, is that she has still not come down from the cloud that has put her on all weekend!
Of course, you can see Jake performing in Hawaii most months, but for us mainlanders we don’t have to feel left out. Jake is on tour and you can catch him in most major cities through July.
Oh, and stay tuned to Go Visit Hawaii. Coming up in March, we’re doing a music giveaway every week–including a special prize pack of Jake’s latest album and the album of his younger brother, Bruce (named after Bruce Lee, according to Jake).