Jake Shimabukuro should be happily at home in Hawaii for his eldest son’s third birthday today after playing the strings off of his ukulele to a family of thousands for SF Jazz last night at Davies Symphony Hall, returning to the Super Bowl for musicians after several years. Shimabukuro plucked and strummed and sometimes jammed so vigorously his hands blurred. One would swear a string would pop. He played a little from his upcoming CD to be entitled ‘Passport’, including a song called ‘Travels’ he derived from a childhood learning phrase which helped tune the instrument, ‘My Dog has Fleas’. He played original covers of Cyndi Lauper, with whom he has collaborated (‘Time after Time’); Sarah McLachlan; The Beatles, MJ and Queen, a highlight being a high flying ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ that amazed and delighted.
Here is a link for the new CD on Vevo: Passport
Young Shimabukuro asked if everybody, many wearing Hawaiian shirts or tropical print dresses, wanted to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Nolan Verner, his buddy and bass player. Verner, who played a shiny red guitar, turned 21 yesterday and shall travel to Japan with Shimabukuro next month on tour for their new CD, out in October. Shimabukuro brought out a baritone ukulele for awhile and played ‘Happy Birthday’ on that, in between playing the customary tenor instrument.
Related: Jake Shimabukuro and ‘An American in Paris’ plays SF Jazz
Shimabukuro, dressed in a Hawaiian shirt and tight black jeans, rocked and bounced and bopped but would take breathers and chat amiably while he stood at the mic, talking of growing up in Hawaii. He shared the stage only with Nolan Verner, the ukulele in a case on a stand and no chair in sight. He would stop and tell anecdotes and dedications but there was only one sing along and no vocals other than that.
Their friendship showed and the performance felt marked by friendship, warmth, family, exuberance, playfulness, love and respect. One left after the show feeling proud. Music is physical education for the mind, Shimabukuro said, supporting music in the schools. He encouraged the young in the audience, some who brought their ukuleles, to follow their dreams and to stay drug-free as he and Nolan have.
Warm tributes to his inspiration, his sons and to those in the military
Shimabukuro played some of his own compositions and several tributes. He wrote one for his sons, who he said reminded him of a certain cute and charming Hawaiian tropical fish he had caught when a boy. He enjoyed frying them and eating them he said. Shimabukuro also played a composition dedicated to the first generation of Japanese Americans living in Hawaii after Pearl Harbor who showed loyalty to their new country, who fought and went for broke as soldiers in the American military. He mentioned how many Japanese Americans were put in prison at the time. Another tribute was to David, a ukulele musician to whom Shimabukuro had listened to over and over since he began playing at age four.
Related: New dating and social club for those over 50 in SF Bay Area, Stitch.net
Tickets were $25 to $80 from SF Jazz. The summer session continues.