Shimabukuro’s ukulele ‘gentle weeps’ at Mauna Lani

  • Jake Shimabukuro is making a stop on Hawaii Island before traveling internationally to Canada and Australia in March and April. This past year, he released his newest album, “Nashville Sessions.” COURTESY PHOTO
    Jake Shimabukuro is making a stop on Hawaii Island before traveling internationally to Canada and Australia in March and April. This past year, he released his newest album, “Nashville Sessions.” COURTESY PHOTO
  • Jake Shimabukuro is making a stop on Hawaii Island before traveling internationally to Canada and Australia in March and April. This past year, he released his newest album, “Nashville Sessions.” (COURTESY PHOTO)
    Jake Shimabukuro is making a stop on Hawaii Island before traveling internationally to Canada and Australia in March and April. This past year, he released his newest album, “Nashville Sessions.” (COURTESY PHOTO)

KOHALA COAST — Best known for his fluid fingering and effervescent style, ukulele master player Jake Shimabukuro will have his audience on the edge of their seats next Friday night at a special charity concert at Mauna Lani Bay Resort.

His energetic strumming creates soulful, high-pitched, smooth sounds that have earned him the ranking as one of the top ukulele players of all time.

Shimabukuro’s busy touring schedule includes 140 dates annually. Sandwiched between performances at Boulder Colorado’s Philharmonic and Maui’s Arts and Cultural Center, he will make a stop on Hawaii Island before traveling internationally to Canada and Australia in March and April.

The Feb. 10 concert is part of the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival, sponsored by Monk’s Delight Kona Coffee and the Kent Meshke Ohana. Proceeds will benefit HPAF.

Genette Freeman, the organization’s executive director, commented, “At every event, Jake has directly addressed kids in the audience, urging them to get involved in music education, and stay away from drugs and gangs. In that sense we are perfectly aligned, as HPAF’s mission is strongly involved in music education.”

Shimabukuro will perform pieces from his newest album, as well as fan favorites such as “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

The talented world-renown musician requires no introduction. Likened to musical talents such as Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis, Shimabukuro has collaborated with a wide array of artists including Yo-Yo Ma, Bela Fleck and Jack Johnson, and orchestras around the world. He often recounts how he first picked up an ukulele at age 4, and fond memories of his mother, an accomplished ukulele player and singer, as his first teacher.

A Honolulu native, Shimabukuro initially gained attention in Hawaii when he was 22. Four years later, he became the first Hawaiian artist to sign a recording contract with Epic Records International.

In 2006, a YouTube video of Shimabukuro playing a virtuosic rendition of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” led to international recognition. More than 15 million views later, and a decade of entertaining crowds, the rest is history.

This past year, he released his newest album, “Nashville Sessions.” Shimabukuro entered the Nashville studio to jam with two top Nashville session players.

“At first I was hesitant,” he admitted. “We’re just going to go in and jam? Really? With nothing prepared? I never dreamed we would leave the studio six days later with a full album.”

National Public Radio’s Marc Silver was impressed.

“Of course this wordless ukulele rendition differs from the version permanently carved into the brains of Queen fans, Wayne’s World devotees and American Idol viewers. Instead of a muscular guitar, pounding piano and an apparent cast of thousands singing backup, the four strings (and two octaves) of the ukulele do all the work,” he said.

Concertgoers can also expect to hear other favorites, including “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” “Hallelujah” and “Nessun Dorma.”

Prior to the concert, HPAF will host a not-so-silent auction with items including an autographed Kamaka ukulele, a trip to Las Vegas, art and dining, among others.

“Rarely do you encounter artists like Shimabukuro who are so devoted to their art and fans. A Jake Shimabukuro concert is a real love fest,” Freeman said enthusiastically.

Info or tickets: Call 333-7378 or go to www.HawaiiPerforming ArtsFestival.org

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