A Maestro On Four Strings! The McCallum Theatre Presents 'The Paganini Of The Ukelele' Jake Shimabukuro

A Maestro On Four Strings! The McCallum Theatre Presents 'The Paganini Of The Ukelele' Jake Shimabukuro

The McCallum Theatre presents Ukelele Wizard Jake Shimabukuro on Tuesday, November 27, at 8:00 pm. Jake Shimabukuro has not only redefined what his instrument can do but has spread the ukulele's popularity to a new audience. His star began to rise in 2006 with a viral YouTube performance of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" (over 14 million views). Called "the Paganini of the ukulele," he's been declared a "musical hero" by Rolling Stone and earned comparisons to music icons Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis. Jake Shimabukuro is known for his masterful interpretations of songs by Sting, Leonard Cohen, George Harrison, Adele, Queen, and many others.

Almost everyone in Hawaii has strummed a ukulele at one time or another. But at the age of 14, Jake Shimabukuro realized that he was doing something a little different with the four-stringed instrument - OK, a lot different.

Jake's wholly unique approach to the ukulele started early. As a youngster growing up in Honolulu, Hawaii, he started playing the instrument at the age of four, learning the basics from his mother and then by studying the likes of musical masters such as Eddie Kamae, Ohta-San, and Peter Moon. As he matured, Jake also found inspiration from guitar players, drummers, pianists, and singers. Even athletes helped fuel the intensity of his artistic fire.

Jake's touring career came to life with a video on YouTube. "I didn't even know what YouTube was at the time, so I was totally surprised when people started telling me they'd seen a video of me playing 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps,'" he says. "Before I got a chance to check it out myself, the video had gone viral and a lot of music industry folks seemed to know about it. It was crazy!" Jake's deeply beautiful and original take on George Harrison's love ballad, one which captured colors and moods never associated with the ukulele before, opened the floodgates - legions of new music lovers had to hear this instrumental marvel - and the 2006 release of Gently Weeps which mixed his own originals with equally adventurous versions of "Ave Maria" and "The Star-Spangled Banner" was an unqualified success.

Jake's records have topped the Billboard World Music Charts on numerous occasions, and as a live performer, he has become one of the hottest tickets around. He's played with world-renowned orchestras and at prestigious venues such as the Hollywood Bowl, Lincoln Center and the Sydney Opera House, and has dazzled audiences at music festivals including Bonnaroo, SXSW, the Playboy Jazz Festival and Fuji Rock Festival. He even performed for that rarest of audiences: Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Not too shabby for a humble young man from Hawaii and his trusty ukulele.

Even with the constant demands on his time - Jake tours roughly half the year and makes frequent appearances on "The Today Show," "Good Morning America," "Jimmy Kimmel Live!," "Late Night with Conan O'Brien," "A Prairie Home Companion," and NPR's "Morning Edition" - his album output hasn't slowed. In 2016, he recorded the all-original Nashville Sessions at Music City's famed Ronnie's Place studio with the ace rhythm section of bassist Nolan Verner and drummer Evan Hutchings. He returned to the same city and studio, and with the same gang, augmented by guitarist Dave Preston, for his most recent release The Greatest Day.

The Greatest Day's 12 tracks feature some of Jake's most imaginative and adventuresome playing. Half of the album is originals, on which Jake reaches new heights of compositional distinction. And on the covers, his prodigious skills achieve the impossible, transcending his material, no mean feat considering some of the classics and standards he's tackling.

Among the self-penned tunes, there's the blissed-out title track, so effervescent and airy that it transports the listener into the clouds. Jake wrote the song the night before going into the studio. Shimabukuro, Verner and Hutchings recorded their parts first. Later, Dave Preston added a joyous, Edge-like guitar riff that really finished the tune. "It came together so quickly," Jake says, "and when I heard the final mix, I just thought, 'Wow, this has been the greatest day!'" The Greatest Day concludes on a stately note, with a sparse yet exquisite reading of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." Each line that Jake plays seeps into one's heart and soul, proving that music is indeed the universal balm. "I had recorded it before, but after Cohen passed I wanted to re-record it - I felt a new emotional response to it. It seemed like the perfect way to end the album."

Along with his tremendous professional achievements, Jake's personal life is filled with riches. He's a loving husband and proud father of two boys. While balancing career with family, he also remains firmly rooted in his commitment to the community, frequently performing at schools in Hawaii and overseas, urging youngsters to find their passion and live drug-free.


Tickets for this performance are priced at $78, $58, $48 and $28. Tickets are available at the Theatre's website at www.mccallumtheatre.com or by calling the McCallum Theatre Box Office at (760) 340-2787.

Related Articles View More Los Angeles Stories   Shows

From This Author David Green

Before you go...

Like Us On Facebook
Follow Us On Twitter
Follow Us On Instagram