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Favourite Ukelele Player?

March 8, 2015

I enjoy a good super-group discussion.  I quite liked the one Mike hosted recently, with the caveat that all dream-band members must still have a pulse.

After attending his Masterclass this afternoon, I’m pleased to announce my (living) super-group now has its ukelele player.

Stewart, Paul, Slash & Thom, please welcome Jake Shimabukuro to the band!

Many likely saw his cover of While My Guitar Gently Weeps on YouTube years ago (I somehow had not).

If you found that impressive, the in-person experience is even more remarkable.

Jake is the kind of guy that students would call “chill.”  As he passed my friend Mark & I in the hall before the class, he patted us on the shoulder & wished us good morning (it was approaching 1 p.m.).

Perched on a barstool for an hour and a half, he redefined calm when speaking & performing.  I’ve heard this quote about another artist but the description of, “he plays fast but never rushes,” is certainly apt here too.

After 90 minutes, the event organizer had to cut him off.  There was a funny moment when he said, “she (the emcee)’s going like this (*throat slicing motion*), does that mean I’m doing great, keep going?”

Following the performance, he was incredibly generous with his time & never seemed less than genuine.  My only disappointment of the afternoon was the lack of a merch table; investing in a Shimabukuro CD has climbed considerably on my to-do list.

It was really nice to have one of my core beliefs confirmed: the true greats are humble.  They don’t need to tell anyone how great they are, the music speaks for itself.

He’s something else; can’t wait to see how his ukelele (pronounced ooo-kuh-lel-lay) meshes with the other guys in the as-of-yet-unnamed super-group!

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14 Comments
  1. This is fantastic!! You are so fortunate to have seen him play!!!

    I reviewed the documentary about him. You should find it and watch it too!

    https://keepsmealive.wordpress.com/2014/02/05/jake-shimabukuro-life-on-four-strings/

    • Thanks for posting the link Aaron – that’s a documentary I am very keen on seeing!

      It was a really neat session – we (maybe 50 or so in the crowd) all brought ukes and it was a mix of lesson/learning/listening that was a great way to spend the afternoon.

      He made a really neat point about practicing – when people work out, they do one day on legs, the next on upper body. With the uke, try one day on chording (left hand) one day focused on strumming (right hand).

      I left feeling the same as you did with the doc – what a nice guy with mind-blowing talent!

      • Haha just a little bit of shameless blog promotion too. 😉

        I’ll say it again, you are so fortuate to have spent time in the same room with the man, let alone getting some instruction! Hot damn! That’s some interesting advice, and brings focus to practice.

        He truly is a singular talent.

      • Such promos are encouraged ’round here!
        He was playing with a pickup most of the time (a really warm sound) but to show the difference, he played it unplugged for a song. It was really neat seeing him control the dynamics without the amp.

      • The more I think about it, Geoff, I think you were granted access to time with a Master, and you will always remember it. It’d be like given a tutorial session with Segovia. Seriously. And seems like such a nice guy, too. Cherish it, man. I know you will!

      • I certainly will!

  2. jprobichaud permalink

    It sounds like quite the experience. I’ll have to check this guy out. I do love a good uke. You should check out Allo Darlin’. Sounds a bit like Belle & Sebastian but with plenty of ukulele.

    • Allo Darlin’ – the group appeals to me already with a name like that! Belle & Sebastian with some uke sounds about right too

  3. Thanks for the shoutout!!

    • Thanks for adding that criterion of ‘living’ to the debate – it changed my supergroup lineup a bit!

  4. You’ve inspired me to look back into this guy’s work, I was a bit out of touch on his more recent stuff. Check out this awesome sauce, from Wiki:

    “Grand Ukulele is Jake Shimabukuro’s 2012 album, released in October 2012. The album was produced by Alan Parsons, with orchestrations done by Kip Winger.”

    Whoa.

  5. He’s in Dallas next month. I will get a ticket!

    • You’ll be glad you did! I picked up one of his CDs, the studio recordings don’t really do his talent justice

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