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Shimabukuro creates full band sound on ukulele

By Emily Herbst
On November 30, 2012

  • Jake Shimabukuro played his second show at the Jorgensen Theater on Thursday night. The audience was impressed with his energy and full sound, despite the small instrament. JESS CONDON

Ukulele player Jake Shimabokuru graced the Jorgensen theater last night, as he turned a mini instrument into a maximum-sound machine.
Without any introduction, Shimabokuru played three smoothly flowing songs, all with intricate rhythms, plucking and more. His passion was apparent from the start- his movement like any electric guitar master. Each tune flowed seamlessly, the chain creating a near-medley. Soon after was his rendition of Adele's ultra-familiar power ballad "Rolling in the Deep," which he strummed verbatim.
What was astounding was the diversity of sounds that came from the ukulele. It was not simply a uke, but a percussion set as well. Complete with foot-stomping, rhythmic beats and other exciting accessories, Shimabokuru's songs left no audience member unimpressed.
After playing four songs straight, Shimabokuru spoke to the audience, explaining his involvement with the hugely famous Alan Parsons well-known for producing albums with the Beatles and Pink Floyd. He discussed the evolution of his success, which started with a casual YouTube video that went viral. Leading into his next song, Shimabokuru told the audience a story of losing one of the four strings on his ukulele, and his determination to create a piece using just three strings.
Shimabokuru next song was dedicated to his favorite show, "Hawaii Five-O," a tune which he called "Ukelele Five-O." The toe-tapping masterpiece had an upbeat tempo with a hint of Hawaiian flair.
All of the songs varied in melody and flavor, but the single most consistent aspect of the concert was Shimabokuru's passion. At one point he even hooked up the uke and went electric with a jaw-dropping song called "Dragon," overlapping melodies and borrowing styles from Jimi Hendrix and other guitar legends.
"Blue Roses" was played towards the end of the concert. The song was dedicated to a friend's grandmother who had hallucinations while ill in a hospital. Recounting her visions, Shimabokuru called the song "Blue Roses." The piece was soft and soothing, much like that of a lullaby.
In addition to his original creations, Shimabokuru did several covers, one of which was Sting's "Fields of Gold." Covers included classic rock masterpieces such as Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" and George Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps."
Following a heartfelt tribute on his newborn son, Shimabokuru introduced us to "Gentle Mandolin," an original that was inspired by the chords mimicked from a mandolin.
Ultimately Jake Shimabokuru put on a multi-sound performance that made us wonder just how many other instruments were hiding in that ukulele.
 


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