Jake Shimabukuro

Sarah Pacheco
Wednesday - November 22, 2006
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Jake Shimabukuro
Jake Shimabukuro

Fresh from his Australian tour, ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro plans to make the most of his time while back home in Hawaii.

“I just got back from Australia, toured through seven cities, it was really great. I’m looking forward to spending some time back at home. The last two years I’ve been traveling so much, I’ve only been home about five months (not consecutively). It’s been pretty hectic,” says the MidWeek cover boy from September 2005 and August 1999.

A high point for the ukulele artist’s Down Under tour was sharing the stage with Jimmy Buffett. “That’s been a wonderful experience. His crowds are huge, the smallest show was 20,000 people. We played at the New Orleans Jazz Fest with over 100,000 people. It was one of the scariest things I have ever done.”

Also part of the “hectic-ness” in Australia was signing a deal with Sony Music Australia, and releasing his newest album, Gently Weeps.

“It’s my first solo acoustic ukulele album. I cover a few tunes like While My Guitar Gently Weeps by George Harrison, Ava Maria, Star Spangled Banner, one of my faves, Sakura, a Japanese folk song, plus a range of original compositions that I’ve been accumulating the last several years.”

On Friday, Nov. 24 and Saturday, Nov. 25, Shimabukuro headlines the Honolulu Symphony Pops concert at the Blaisdell Concert Hall. Both shows are at 8 p.m. Also performing are Benny Chong, Dean Taba, Noel Okimoto and Byron Yasui.

“It will be like a collaboration. Byron was my professor at the University of Hawaii. He’s been quite a mentor and a friend. I get to play with all my heroes.This is my first full show with the symphony. It’s always been a dream of mine to do this.”

For tickets, call the Symphony Box Office at 792-2000. After the shows, Shimabukuro is fully prepared for relaxation. “It’s nice to be home, catch up with family and friends and just hang out. Whenever I spend more time in Hawaii, it’s kind of that time for me to recharge, get inspired again,” he reveals.

Earlier this fall, the Hawaii resident celebrated what he calls a not-so-anticipated birthday.

“I just turned 30. I don’t know how that happened. I feel like I just graduated high school, like, a few years ago,” he laughs.

What does 2007 hold for Shimabukuro? More tours.

“I will be heading out to Japan. We have a West Coast tour ... then I think after that we have plans to go to Germany. It will be my first time; I’m really looking forward to that, and possibly Korea.” The trip to Korea would be to promote the Japanese film Hula Girl, for which Shimabukuro did musical scoring on the soundtrack. “It was the first time I got to compose music for piano, string, guitar. The movie was just released in Korea.”

- Kerry Miller

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