Most kids growing up in Hawaii learn to play the ukulele. Jake Shimabukuro became a virtuoso.
Now 42 (and looking a dozen years younger), Shimabukuro captivated a sold-out, seated show Friday in the Crown Room of Crystal Bay Casino Lake Tahoe.
He is renowned for lightning-fast fingers and revolutionary playing techniques, and views the ukulele as an “untapped source of music with unlimited potential.” Playing jazz, blues, funk, classical, bluegrass, folk, flamenco and rock, his mission is to show everyone that the ukulele is capable of so much more than the traditional Hawaiian music — or corny showbiz routines — many associate it with.
Shimabukuro’s mother gave him his first ukulele lesson when he was 4 years old. “When I played my first chord I was hooked,” he notes.”I fell in love with the instrument.” That love grew into a deep passion to create and innovate. Experimenting with various techniques allows him to create sounds never thought possible on the tiny four-string, two-octave instrument. A true showman, his performance delights audiences with intricate strumming and plucking, electrifying high-energy grooves and smooth, melodic ballads.
From a modest beginning performing at a local Honolulu café, Shimabukuro has gone on to play renowned and popular venues and festivals across the United States, Japan, Canada, Australia and elsewhere. Lake Tahoe was on the map for “The Greatest Day” tour, named for his most recent album.