Rolling Stone Heralds Virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro as Ukulele Hero

Ukulele phenomenon Jake Shimabukuro has received unanimous acclaim from New York Times, NPR, Time Magazine & NY Post. Next up is the current Rolling Stone “Best of Rock” issue that praises Shimabukuro as an “Ukulele Hero,” saying “one of the hottest axmen of the past few years doesn’t actually play guitar.” Writer Patrick Doyle called Shimabukuro’s cover of the Beatles’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” “jaw-dropping.”


Check out the Rolling Stone article here.

Watch Shimabukuro’s rendition of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” here.

More info on Jake Shimabukuro.

Time, NYT Laud Jake Shimabukuro

It's been a banner year thus far for Jake Shimabukuro. His new album 'Peace Love Ukulele' (HITCHHIKE RECORDS) debuted at #1 on the Billboard World Album chart, and has brought the Hawaii native national acclaim from NPR, YouTube and others. Time Magazine and the New York Times can now be added to the list in praise of Shimabukuro's virtuosic ukulele playing.

Nate Chinen of the New York Times said of a recent performance Shimabukuro at Brooklyn Bowl:

"Shimabukuro… comes by his fame with buoyant musicianship and brisk proficiency. The innovation in his style stems from an embrace of restrictions: the ukulele has only four strings and a limited range. He compensates with an adaptable combination of rhythmic strumming, classical-style finger-picking and fredboard tapping."

Read the entire review here.

Shimabukuro and his ukulele are also featured in a Time Magazine article by Tim Morrison about the instrument and its sudden surge in popularity. Morrison notes that a quick Google search of ukulele "won't be some grainy clip of Tiny Tim or George Formby but a performance by a hair-gelled 34-year-old Hawaiian named Jake Shimabukuro."

Read the Time Magazine piece here.

Read Grateful Web coverage of Jake here.

Jake Shimabukuro & His Ukulele Top Billboard This Week

Jake Shimabukuro has conquered the Billboard music charts this week with his instrument re-defining new album, Peace Love Ukulele. The album debuted at #1 on the "World Albums" chart (the ukulele virtuoso's best showing to date), blazed the "Heatseekers" chart with a Hot Shot debut in the 4th position, and also made it onto the “Independent Albums” chart at #31. Peace Love Ukulele, out on Hitchhike Records, has shattered the first week sales records of all previous Shimabukuro releases.

The Honolulu native and his stalwart ukulele skills were recently featured on NPR'S “Weekend Edition,” where he voiced his conviction that "if everyone played the ukulele, the world would be a better place.”’

Listen to the full NPR “Weekend Edition” segment HERE!

For more album info and all things Jake Shimabukuro, visit

Fleck, Harrison, Wooten Adore Jake Shimabukuro

Critics have raved about the artistry Jake Shimabukuro displays on 'Peace Love Ukulele' (out January 4th from Hitchhike Records). The New Yorker said that "in his hands... the ukulele becomes a source of beauty, power, and inspiration."

Jake's fellow musicians agree. Here's what some of them had to say:

"The way Jake plays the 'ukulele is amazing and beautiful... he's a special musician." - Bela Fleck

"To say that Jake is incredible is not enough. He is much more than that. His music takes you on a journey. He plays with so much expression, feeling, and soul; it's like he's an old man in a young man's body. It only takes one listen to understand exactly what I'm saying." - Victor Wooten

"George felt liberated playing the uke and loved it because it made everyone smile. I especially love Jake's versions of George's songs." - Olivia Harrison

"It gives me a great deal of satisfaction to know that I was able to contribute in some way to the rest of the world hearing Jake play. From the moment I first heard his amazing style and watched the audience reaction in a club on the waterfront in Honolulu, I knew he was a unique and universal talent. We all at Mailboat Records are proud and excited to be distributing his latest release, and it gives me another good excuse to get back to Hawaii for 'business' - work, work, work..." - Jimmy Buffett

“Instrumentalists with a truly unique voice on their instrument come around very rarely. It was such a welcome gift to the world when Jake came on the scene... someone whose mastery of the ukulele is eclipsed only by the sheer joy he spreads in playing it. Jake Shimabukuro is without a doubt, one of a kind!” - Dave Koz

Listen to the hard driving "Bring Your Adz" from 'Peace Love Ukulele' here.

Jake Shimabukuro's "Go For Broke" pays tribute to soldiers' legacy

On 'Peace Love Ukulele' (out January 4th from Hitchhike Records), Jake Shimabukuro displays his customary "brilliance and brio" (NPR) on the ukulele with "Go For Broke," a Shimabukuro original that pays heartfelt tribute to the courageous American soldiers of Japanese ancestry who fought and sacrificed their lives in World War II.

The motto of the second-generation (Nisei) Japanese-American soldiers from Shimabukuro's native Hawaii, the most highly decorated U.S. unit in military history, was "Go For Broke," meaning "to risk everything on one great effort to win big." That's also a good description of the way Shimabukuro plays, with "stunning chops" and "a deep and sensitive musicality" (Guitar Player).

The Nisei veterans' determination has been a source of inspiration for Shimabukuro, himself of Japanese ancestry, since he was a young boy.  “Whenever I am faced with a problem, I always ask myself, 'How can I handle this situation in a way that would make a Nisei veteran proud?'" he says of the men of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, 100th Infantry Battalion, the 1399th Engineering Construction Battalion, and the Military Intelligence Service (MIS), who fought for the U.S. against their ancestral land at a time when those of Japanese heritage were often viewed with suspicion. “I think anyone who hears their story will be inspired to be a better person.”

Shimabukuro knows a peaceful way to express that inspiration. "If everyone played the ukulele, the world would be a better place," he says.

Listen to Jake Shimabukuro's "Go For Broke"

Jake Shimabukuro Believes Music is Good Medicine

"If everyone played the ukulele, the world would be a better place." -Jake Shimabukuro

Jake Shimabukuro is recognized as one of the world's most exciting and innovative ukulele players and composers, having "given the ukulele a new respect altogether" (All Music Guide), as he demonstrates on his forthcoming album ‘Peace Love Ukulele,' out January 4, 2011 on Hitchhike Records.

But as his career continues to blossom, Shimabukuro, a Hawaiian, is also busy giving back to his island community, using the ukulele as his tool. He’s currently the head spokesperson for Music is Good Medicine (MIGM), a living-healthy community program that tours schools, hospitals and senior centers around Hawaii and on the US mainland, as well as in Guam, Saipan and Japan.

Shimabukuro’s belief that music is good medicine goes all the way back to his childhood. "Ever since my mother first put a ukulele in my hands at the age of four," he says, "this magical instrument has been a positive force in my life – helping to steer me away from drugs, violence and other negative influences. It fueled my passion for music, which has helped me to develop in mind, body and spirit."

He points to the therapeutic, stress-reducing benefits of playing music and says the ukulele is one of the easiest instruments to learn, as well as one of the most affordable. "This tiny, four-string instrument is a universe of joy and healing, with a childlike quality about it that returns us to our youth and energizes us."

Jake Shimabukuro to Perform with Bette Midler for Queen of England

Jake Shimabukuro, ukulele virtuoso from Hawaii, will perform his arrangement of the Beatles’ tune “In My Life” with Bette Midler for The Royal Variety Performance 2009 in Blackpool, England.

The Performance is presented annually in aid of the Entertainment Artistes’ Benevolent Fund (the EABF), whose patron is Her Majesty The Queen.  Acts lined up to appear include: Oscar winner Whoopi Goldberg, Canadian singer and Grammy Award winner Michael Buble, teen superstar Miley Cyrus, and many more.

Midler, a multi-award winning performer also from Hawaii, has followed her fellow islander’s career and loves Jake’s arrangement of “In My Life,” a Beatles cover that appeared on Jake’s 2008 release, My Life.

“I was shocked to hear that Bette Midler knew my music.  I’ve been a huge fan of hers for many years,” said Jake.  “She’s like a queen of entertainment.  And to be performing with her for the Queen of England… it’s a bit too much for me.  I’m just so honored.”

The performance will be Jake’s first time to England and second time to Europe after touring earlier this year in Stockholm, Sweden, Pori, Finland, Nice & Paris, France, and San Sebastian, Spain.

Blackpool’s legendary Opera House is the largest theatre in the UK outside of London with a seating capacity of 3000.  The star-studded spectacle will take place on Monday, December 7 and be screened on ITV1, in the UK, later that month.  It will be produced by ITV Studios, the makers of the 2007 Royal Variety Performance, which attracted an impressive 9 million viewers.

The money raised from this event will help to maintain Brinsworth House in Twickenham, Middlesex – the entertainers’ retirement and nursing home which is run by the EABF.

Jake Shimabukuro News & Tour Dates

Jake is set to perform at this year’s San Francisco Jazz Festival! The show is taking place on Wednesday October 21, 2009 at the lovely Davies Symphony Hall. Tickets are still available starting at $25. This is a must see show and will be the first stop after Jake's long Japan Tour. But tickets here.

It has been a long awaited arrival for this Japanese Import. Awhile back Jake released an all Beatles cover album, only in Japan. This album is filled with thirteen of Jake's favorite Beatles songs...all played on the ukulele. Including two very special collaborations with Cyndi Lauper and Yo-Yo Ma this album is sure to be one for the ages. Available here.

Tour Dates:

10.21.2009 - San Francisco Jazz Festival - San Francisco, CA

10.24.2009 - Epic Event in Kahala - Honolulu, HI

11.07.2009 - Kahilu Theatre - Kamuela, HI

11.08.2009 - Kahilu Theatre - Kamuela, HI

11.12.2009 - The Ark - Ann Arbor, MI

11.13.2009 - Manchester's Craftsman's Guild - Pittsburgh, PA

11.15.2009 - Tupelo Music Hall - Londonderry, NH

11.17.2009 - John Paul Jones Arena with Jimmy Buffett - Charlottesville, PA

11.19.2009 - Anthology - San Diego, CA

11.20.2009 - Grace Theatre - Oceanside, CA

11.21.2009 - jklub Fan Club Event - Rancho Cucamonga, CA

11.21.2009 - Victoria Gardens - Rancho Cucamonga, CA

11.22.2009 - Citrus College - Glendora, CA

12.09.2009 - Toys For Tots Concert - Honolulu, HI

12.11.2009 - Honolulu Marathon Luau Waikiki Shell - Honolulu, HI

12.13.2009 - Honolulu Marathon Finishing Line - Honolulu, HI

12.14.2009 - Jimmy Buffett's At The Beachcomber - Waikiki, HI

01.15.2010 - Orpheum Theatre - Phoenix, AZ

01.17.2010 - The Smooth Jazz Cruise 2010 - Ft. Lauderdale, FL

03.24.2010 - Edmonds Center for the Arts - Edmonds, WA

03.13.2010 - Admiral Theatre - Bremerton, WA

03.27.1010 - Maui Arts & Cultural Center - Kahalui, Maui, HI

05.21.2010 - E.J. Thomas Hall - Akron, OH

Ukulele Master Jake Shimabukuro Releases His First LIVE CD

photos by Phil & Janie- for the Grateful Web

Perhaps you were in the audience at one of Jake Shimabukuro's shows last year when he "entered the zone, created unforgettable music, and wowed the crowd. The odds are that Jake's tech crew recorded that concert, and the moment is captured on Live, his upcoming HITCHHIKE RECORDS release (distributed by Thirty Tigers/RED, April 14 release). This is Jake's first full-length CD since 2006's best-selling Gently Weeps. After taping dozens of U.S. and overseas performances Jake chose these tracks as representing the best of the best of his live playing.

I've always wanted to release a live CD because there's something magical about capturing the energy of the audience during a performance, says Jake. "Every cheer and chuckle writes itself into each tune and becomes a part of the arrangement. Every track reveals a different side of the ukulele. Soft and sensitive at times, other times cheery and playful, occasionally dramatic, and, once in a while, hard and aggressive.

I enjoyed putting this album together because it preserved the feeling of each concert. Every venue had a refreshingly intimate vibe that made the creation of music pleasurable. My favorite moments are the spontaneous ones of laughter and joy between songs. Music should bring happiness. The sound of the ukulele always makes me smile. I think the world would be a greater place if everyone played the ukulele.

The 17-song CD includes 12 Shimabukuro originals (Nine versions of his best-known compositions, plus three brand-new tunes) and five covers (including a jaw-dropping version of J.S. Bach's "Two-Part Invention No. 4 in D Minor"and a memorable interpretation of Thriller," the Rod Temperton song made famous by Michael Jackson). Of course there's a live version of George Harrison's While My Guitar Gently Weeps"which might be Jake's best-recorded version yet!

Live documents the fascinating journey and musical growth of one of the most original musical talents on the planet, Jake Shimabukuro.

Jake Shimabukuro: Jazz Ukulele Virtuoso

photos by Janie Franz- for the Grateful Web

When I first heard about Jake Shimabukuro, I probably was like most people, responding, "He plays what? A ukulele! You've got to be kidding!" But then I put his latest full-length album, Gently Weeps (2006), into my CD player, and, well, you had to scrap my jaw up off the floor!

This young man is a virtuoso string player.  Chase Don Ho and Tiny Tim right out of your head! Shimabukuro has elevated this simple, four string, two octave instrument to a classical artform. He has redefined what this instrument can do as did David Grisman did with mandolin and Alison Brown and Bela Fleck did with banjo.

Shimabukuro is comparable to Eric Clapton and even Andrés Segovia in both rock and classical styles - - and that's not hyperbole. Shimabukuro is able to cross a range of genres with ease, using skills appropriate to each. He produces string sounds resembling an acoustic tenor guitar that mix flamenco, classical, blues, and acoustic rock fingerstyling.

In Gently Weeps, Shimabukuro presents 12 songs with only his sole ukulele that are full bodied, thoughtful and stirring. He covers George Harrison's standard "Why My Guitar Gently Weeps," for which the album is named, as well as Chic Chorea's "Spain," Johnny Burke/Erroll Gamer's "Misty," and even "Ave Maria." His version of the Japanese folk tune "Sakura" sounds as if it were played on the Japanese 13-string koto.

There are also five original compositions. Then, as a bonus Shimabukuro includes five cuts that have a full band backing him (guitar, bass, drums, and keys). Of particular note is "Beyond the Break," written for the TV network THE N. Shimabukuro juxatoposes his ukelele against a driving electric guitar with effects, rock bass, and heavy drums.  It works like magic.

The accompaniment on this CD and on his new EP, My Life, enhances Shimabukuro's complex stylings. My Life showcases six songs, including Cindy Lauper's hit "Time After Time," Page and Plant's "Going to California," Lennon/McCartney's "In My Life," and "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," which has become a signature tune for him.

I had the pleasure of seeing classical guitarist Andrés Segovia live in concert in the mid 70s and was awestruck then. But when I stumbled upon Jake Shimabukuro this fall in San Francisco at a free concert at Yerba Buena Gardens, I couldn't believe my good fortune. His concert at the Herbst Theater was sold out, but he graciously appeared at the free festival.

He played many of the selections on Gently Weeps and My Life.  Much of what I heard make me liken Shimabukuro to Jimi Hendrix on the uke, especially when he took his own original swipe at "The Star-Spangled Banner." He played richly and fully, enjoying his audience.

Shimabukuro even good naturedly took on a stage full of ukelele players, performers who had played all afternoon before him. They included  The UFOs  ('Ukulele Friends Ohana), Al Dodge and the Tin Pan Haoles, The Paper Dolls, Tippy Canoe and the Paddlemen, Faith Ako, slack-key guitarist Carey Camacho, The Victor Ohana Band, Kimo Hussey, 'Ukulele Ray, and The Frisky Frolics. His task was to play lead uke opposite this group as they tackled two traditional songs. And, by Golly, he did it! It was a nightmare for the sound techs in the front of the "house" and the monitor tech. Perry Thorwaldson and his crew from Thor Audio Solutions did a remarkable job! Clips of this show have been floating around Utube for a weeks now.

Beginning at the age of four, Shimabukuro has added lightning runs and bluesy string bends to classical finger work and flamenco flourishes. He has performed with or opened for Blues Traveler, Hot Buttered Rum, The Radiators, John Hiatt, and Fiona Apple. He's appeared on The Late Show with Conan O'Brien and Last Call with Carson Daly, and toured with Jimmy Buffett and Bela Fleck. He also played on Ziggy Marley's Grammy winning Love is Religion album last year.

If you're interested in what this ukulele virtuoso can do, check out his website and grab one of his CDs, especially his new My Life EP. Better yet, go see his blazing hands live.  It will be a muscial experience you won't soon forget.