Monday, May 24, 2010

Jake Shimabukuro @ The Cedar

With a shout of "Aloha!" Hawaiian native and ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro took the stage last night at the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis. The venue was completely sold out with folded chairs squished together, the crowd abuzz with conversations of "so how did you first learn about Jake?" After opener Jake Armerding performed his acoustic pop-ballad guitar set, Jake Shimabukuro bounced on stage.

When you see the ukulele master live, what proves to be his greatest strength is his charismatic inventiveness. Not only is he a technically gifted player, but Jake Shimabukuro is able to create playful works that entwine a large range of whimsy and genius. He can go from Schubert to the Beatles to Jimi Hendrix in a split second with the greatest of ease, all the while divulging humorous antidotes about his childhood and experiences with famous folks - like the time he met the Queen of England, standing in between Bette Midler and Lady Gaga, and found himself bowing again and again uncontrollably. "It must've been the Japanese in me!" he quipped.

Starting off by introducing a new song called "1-4-3" from his upcoming album, which is due to come out later this year, Jake said, "I remember when I was in high school. We didn't have cell phones, we couldn't do text messaging or emails or all that. So if you were cool, you had a pager. We'd all carry a pager, and if you were dating someone, we all had these numeric codes, and so the numeric code for 'I love you' was 1-4-3." This quickly garnered a chorus of "aw"s from the audience as he began playing the piece, the idea of love certainly present with delicate soft picks interspersed alongside strong chord surges. Music theory buffs would also appreciate the use of 4-3 suspensions which played off the "1-4-3" idea.

Up next were some old classics like "Blue Roses Falling," "Let's Dance" and my personal favorite, "Me & Shirley T," a song dedicated to the over-consumption of Shirley Temple drinks as a child. The fun breakdown at the height of the sugar rush can be seen in the video below:

Jake went on to display his large array of skills, banging out a crazy 9-8 beat learned from the crew of Jimmy Buffet in "Trapped," shredding the uke with the Bruce Lee-meets-Eddie Van Halen number "Dragon," and capturing the delicate nuances of classical composition with his "Piano Forte" (a number that is modeled after such, with left hand and right hand parts that unfortunately require a recording studio to hear both at the same time).

By the end of the evening, Jake Shimabukuro had wooed the crowed, earning hoots and hollers throughout the concert as well as two standing ovations. He was all an audience could ask for - humble, sweet, gracious and extremely talented. He's continuing his tour around the globe for the rest of the year, so do yourself a favor and find out if he's coming to your town and then buy your tickets immediately. Regardless of your age, seeing Jake live will put a smile on your face. That's guaranteed.

Set List:
Blue Roses Falling
Let's Dance
Me & Shirley T
In My Life
While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Sakura Sakura
Piano Forte
Orange World
Encore: The Crazy G

No comments: