Jake Shimabukuro: Peace Love Ukulele…and Awesomeness!

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!

blankA 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).

  1. Andy — thanks for writing this great post!

    I really am still stuck in the clouds with the incredible performance and the very, very gracious shout out. When will my feet touch the ground again?

    The concert was really outstanding. I loved learning the story and history behind the song, which added a new dimension to songs.

    I think “Five Dollars Unleaded” is my new favorite off the new album. When I hear it, I can picture Jake, Bruce and their dad in the cab of his dad’s pick-up truck driving around beautiful Oahu. I imagine it’s a sunny day and the windows rolled down.

    Mahalo nui loa!

    P.S. Jake’s version of “Bohemian Rhapsody” (here’s a YouTube of it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=snPQ1z5FoqQ) is my favorite version of that classic song.

  2. Awesome post! So fun! Thank you for sharing. Loved the title, good info and loved the links. Jake is a cutie isn’t he? Sounds like such a fun experience.

    Happy Birthday Dear Sheila! My daughter’s birthday was Feb 7.

    How are you going to top this next year Andy? :>)

    What a beautiful to look at ukelele and beautiful to hear. The wood is gorgeous!

    The link didn’t work for me on Sheila’s comment. Will try to find it myself. If it is your favorite I am sure it is good!

  3. Great write up. I really enjoyed “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” on the Mele O Hawaii CD from Starbucks – the only time I’ve ever walked into a Starbucks in Chicago and heard them playing HAPA 🙂

    Anyway, hadn’t dug around Jake’s other work until reading this post. Pulled down Gently Weeps from iTunes for starters.

    I’m sure I’ll be back for more.

  4. It was funny when I read the title to this post. I have often referred to Jake as “His Awesomeness” and “The Master” because he IS all of that. Not only did he give us a stunning performance at the Birchmere in Northern VA last month, he also stayed for an additional 2 1/2 hours after the show until the last person waiting in line for an autograph/picture/hand shake/hug had been sated. He is one class act, with a kind heart and a beautiful soul.

    I was so exited when I found out he was coming I bought 6 tickets without a second thought, and the show was 4 months away! I wore a cheap old silk lei to work in celebration the day of the concert. Someone (a concert-goer I believe) had given Jake a real lei during his performance. Later, when it was my turn in the line I asked if I could give him my lei. He accepted and gave me his in return! I (too Sheila) am still on a high!

    Thank you guys for posting this, and thank you Jake for being such talented artist and an awesome young man!

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