July 21, 2006
Volume 34
Issue 29
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Wednesday, Aug 12, 2020



Jake Shimabukuro rocks on solo ukulele at the Triple Door
Jake Shimabukuro rocks on solo ukulele at the Triple Door
by Lorelei Quenzer - SGN A&E Writer

Jake Shimabukuro
July 12 @ the Triple Door

The Triple Door's website for ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro summed it up in two words: "Trust us." And if you trusted me and made a reservation for one of his shows, then you had a fabulous acoustic evening last week.

You've been paying attention, right? Two years ago I told you that Jake would be a hot ticket when he came to Bumbershoot in the "Rising Stars of Hawaii" show. Back then I said that, even if you're not a fan of Hawaiian music, you should check him out, quipping, "This is not my mother's ukulele." He's been to town several times since then, gathering an audience, and last Wednesday's show at the 3xD sounded like the icing on the cake: the room was packed and buzzing with anticipation.

A single wooden stool and microphone standing against the red velvet curtain presaged good things to come. Shimabukuro, dressed casually in jeans and a red t-shirt, took to the stage to overwhelming applause. He jokingly welcomed the audience by saying, "I'm so glad you guys are here tonight, because tonight's gonna be a much better show than last night!" He opened with a wonderfully stylized version of "Over the Rainbow," moving with his tiny instrument as if dancing. Such a rock star in the making!

The tunes that followed ran the gamut from classical flamenco to 80's metal, all on four little strings. You can't help twittering when Jake introduces the song "Dragon" as inspired by Bruce Lee and Eddie Van Halen. Then you hear that classic tapping (also called the "Eruption" technique for the Van Halen song of the same name), coaxing huge sounds out of that miniature guitar and your jaw drops to the floor. Jake had us giggling again when he admitted that "Me and Shirley T" was not about Shirley Temple, the actress, but Shirley Temple, the grenadine-enhanced kiddie drink. Now that he's gone off sugar he's added a jangly chord to his live performances of the once-sweet song, making the sounds of sucrose withdrawal palpable.

A concert staple, Jake's cover of Chick Correa's "Spain" was, as always, perfect, his strumming hand moving so fast it blurred. There were strains of Clapton, both in the Beatles' medley of "Let It Be" and "When My Guitar Gently Weeps," and in his original composition "Blue Roses Falling." Jazz pianist Mokoto Ozone mentored Jake when they composed the song "Breathe," advising him to "respect the space between the notes& and remember to breathe." Despite such heady influences, it's clear he doesn't take himself too seriously: Jake also recounted how the song was inspired by the instrumental soundtrack to the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. He unplugged for his encore, Franz Schubert's "Ave Maria" and ended with a bluesy, bluegrass-y number that concluded with the tag from "Dueling Banjos."

Nope, the only thing remotely Hawaiian about the show - other than the instrument - was Jake's musical pidgin accent. He recently won the "Performer of the Year" audience award at the Hawaiian version of the Grammies, the Na Hoku Hanohano awards, and it's easy to see why; he had the Triple Door crowd eating out of the palm of his hands. He's adding to his catalogue of instrumental jazz with his first CD of solo ukulele music, Gently Weeps, in September - maybe a Grammy nomination next? - and I can only hope that he'll be touring again soon to promote the album. Hana hou (again!), Jake!

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