But this "Jimi Hendrix of the ukulele" (that's oo-koo-lay-lay, and while we're at it, shim-ah-BOO-koo-row) has been knockin' 'em dead all over the world by himself with his tiny instrument and his flawless, incendiary renditions of classic and original tunes. He's also an ambassador between his two cultures of Hawaii and Japan, a topic we cover in more depth in the spirited conversation to follow. He was a joy to interview, since his generous and beyond courteous nature was so disarming, in every sense of the word.
Jake is also a composer, and has recently written the entire score for the Japanese hit film, Hula Girl. He details how working with the Jimmy Buffet gang on the music for his movie (while a star on tour with Jimmy and the Coral Reefer Band) gave him some of the background he was soon to need and put right to use in his first film score.
There are and have been so many pitifully lame examples of how musicians should be and should carry themselves, that it's small wonder so many of them grow up twisted, or not at all. When I meet a very rare musician like Jake Shimabukuro, I want to hold him up and say, "Be like this guy." He would certainly be embarrassed to hear that, which speaks to my point.
But the real point is his music, which is totally flabbergasting, and needs to be heard. (And seen--thank you, youtube!) This latest EP, My Life, is very representative of his live show: very simple, mindblowing and mostly solo versions of songs. No effects (something for which he'd also been notorious), just clean, tasty, soothing and inspiring mastery. Check this man out, and get some ooo-koo-lay-lay going on in your life. We have.