For such a tiny instrument, the ukulele-at least in the hands of virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro-can unleash quite a massive sound. The Honolulu native, who comes to SOhO on Tuesday, November 13, has been playing the four-stringed instrument since he was four years old, and it shows, for he can take any genre of music and uke-ify it with jaw-dropping results.
Though he’s been touring America and Japan for the past few years, he’s probably most famous as a YouTube star-the video of him playing George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” in New York City’s Central Park has caught the eye of more than 1.5 million viewers. (Watch it at youtube.com, or just Google his name and YouTube together.) Stupendous viral success aside, the video serves as a perfect example of his onstage presence, in which Shimabukuro mixes ridiculously fast finger-picking with slow, soulful string-pulling. Along the way, he’s redefined what can be expected from the ukulele.
In September, Shimabukuro unveiled two new releases in the United States on Hitchhike Records: a soundtrack to the popular Japanese film Hula Girls, which won him a Japanese Academy Award; and an EP called My Life, which features many covers of pop songs, much like his previous hit album Gently Weeps. Fans can expect songs from both of those releases, as well as originals, when he comes to Santa Barbara on November 13.