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The ukulele rock star

Jake Shimabukuro
The Historic Rialto Theatre
Tucson, AZ
July 9, 2015
Jake Shimabukuro Jake Shimabukuro Jake Shimabukuro

Review and photos by Mary Andrews

Jake Shimabukuro brought his predominantly solo concert back to Tucson's Rialto Theatre for the third time in the last few years and it was a joyous affair! He quietly took the stage and started strumming his intro and had one closed their eyes, you could mistake the ukulele for a violin, guitar or any other stringed instrument instead of this often misunderstood member of the lute family. The sound was rich and full and demonstrated the impeccable acoustics at the Rialto Theatre.

The first half of the show was devoted to Jake's compositions. Some of the songs were from his upcoming new album release due out this summer. The song, "Oama," was inspired by his six-week old baby and his three-year old son. Oama, he explained, are tiny gold fish that are used for bait by the fishermen in his native Hawaii. Jake introduced many of the songs in the set with his personal stories. He, also, had friends in the audience that he introduced.

Mr. Shimabukuro's bass player, Nolan Verner, was the only accompaniment that Jake had during the show. It was obvious that the two took cues from each other during the performance and enjoyed playing together. Mr. Verner disappeared by the middle of the set only to return at the end.

Mr. Shimabukuro introduced his new instrument, a 50-year old Kamaka baritone ukulele. It is tuned lower than a standard ukulele. He played a traditional Hawaian tune, "Hi'ilawe" and from there he eased into his cover tunes starting with the Beatles' "In My Life."

He strapped his standard ukulele back on and preceded with the Jackson 5 tune, "I'll Be There" and George Harrison's "Something." By this time in the show, the packed house was on its feet after every song giving the love that Jake so humbly deserved. Jake's brilliant interpretation of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" was nothing less than stellar. He compensated the limitations of the four-string instrument by layering the sound with a loop station during "Dragon." He was able to record chord progression and play on top of the sound with guitar like rhythms on the ukulele. Everything was done with total precision and with a dash of magic! The encore was his beautiful signature cover of George Harrison's "My Guitar Gently Weeps."
1. Intro / Trapped
2. Me & Shirley T.
3. 143
4. Ichigo Ichie
5. Oama
6. Ukulele Five-O
7. Kawika (Peter Moon cover)
8. Hi'Ilawe
9. In My Life (The Beatles cover)
10. I'll Be There
11. Something
12. Dragon
13. Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen cover)
14. $5 Unleaded
15. Orange World
16. Third Stream

17. While My Guitar Gently Weeps (The Beatles cover)

Related articles:

Jake Shimabukuro / Katie Haverly - Concert review - Tucson, AZ - February 2014

Jake Shimabukuro Jake Shimabukuro

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