Jake Shimabukuro is a ukulele phenom.
You’re probably thinking, “How phenomenal could a ukulele player actually be?”
Have a look for yourself. This video of Shimabukuro playing his rendition of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” essentially launched his career when it went viral in the early days of YouTube.
Shimabukuro’s hour and a half show was amazing. He doesn’t seem to have any limits to his capabilities. Throughout the show he seamlessly switched between a wide variety of guitar techniques, styles and time signatures.
The format of his show mirrors BB King’s style of banter, music, banter, music. He tells you the story behind the song he is about to play, then he plays it. The stories are compelling and help you connect more deeply with his music.
A few songs stood out above the rest for me:
Go For Broke
A tribute to American veterans and soldiers, specifically the Japanese-American Nisie soldiers of World War II who’s motto was “go for broke.”
The song began with a march beat, and then soared.
(This video actually has drums, he didn’t have them this evening)
Bring Your Adze
Shimabukuro’s ukulele ode to the hard rocking shred legends of the 80s. His fretwork blew my mind.
Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen)
He said the cover started as a joke. If the end result was a joke, it wasn’t funny. This cover of a the Queen anthem made me grin from ear to ear, and weep at the same time.
These are three personal highlights, but I honestly loved each and every song he played. It was an honor to see him, and look forward to the next time.
McCarter Theatre Center
The show was at the McCarter Theatre Center’s Berlind Theatre. The building is beautiful, the acoustics are superb, and the staff is lovely.