REVIEW: Jake Shimabukuro, Ukulele

First thing I learned from this performance, we have all been pronouncing “ukulele” incorrectly. Look up how a Hawaiian pronounces ukulele and you will be surprised.

The ukulele is an absolutely beautiful instrument, and Jake showed us through covers and his own compositions. They came onto the stage playing “Time of the Season”. The Zombies have a magnificent version of this song because of the clarity and resonance of the vocals. The Ukulele has a strong plucking sound with every note that gives each note their own tempo and makes for a very clear segmented sound. It fit very well with Time of the Season. This strong plucking sound, resonated by the sound system and acoustics of Hill Auditorium, also made for an enchanting version of Elanor Rigby.

My favorite song of the night was called “Go For Broke”. Jake wrote this himself, and I urge you to check it out. It really is an astonishing piece and had me on my feet after he played it. It is a tribute to Hawaiian soldiers who died during Pearl Harbor. He makes great use of muted strings in this song. I was impressed by how many different sounds Jake was able to make on the ukulele without actually playing notes. It seemed like how he muted the strings with his fingers affected the sound, similar to if he was actually playing notes. Jake was also a master of shredding on his ukulele, something I thought was only possible on the guitar.

Jake brought two musicians with him, a guitarist and a bassist. The three fit together very well. It was very cool when the guitar and ukulele were playing the same notes. During these parts it was very clear how different the instruments actually sound. The ukulele always has a lighter tone. It is nice when they adjust songs to fit with this lighter tone. I enjoyed when he played a little Stairway to Heaven and wished he played the entire intro because I think this song would fit very well with the ukulele.

I enjoyed the authentic ukulele sound so much. My favortie songs were when it was just Jake on stage playing, or when Jake played his own compositions which featured his ukulele without too many affects. Jake played a lot of covers, including classic rock songs like “Little Wing” by Jimi Hendrix and pop songs like “Shape of you”. First, no not even the ukulele can make the song “Shape of you” listenable, it is a horrific song. Little wing is an incredible song, but it fits the guitar a lot better than the ukulele. Jake used effects to get his ukulele to sound like an electric guitar for a lot of these songs, I was not a big fan. They didn’t feel as special and didn’t allow Jake to really highlight how talented he is at playing the ukulele.

Here are some pictures below!

Ronald McTrump

I am a senior studying business and I have lots of travelling experience in Asia. I am very pessimistic and opinionated about life, but art brings me happiness and I hope my pessimism isn't apparent in my reviews, for the sake of the artists!

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