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Wednesday: The Jake Shimabukuro Experience

Bill DeYoung

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Are you experienced? From left, Preston, Shimabukuro and Turner. Photo provided.

Master musician Jake Shimabukuro rolls into Clearwater Wednesday for his eighth concert appearance at the Capitol Theatre.

This is significant because it demonstrates our area’s continued appreciation for Shimabukuro’s musical talents. Even more significant is the fact that his chosen tool is the ukulele, not exactly the instrument that comes to mind when thoughts turn to massive, international concert tour success.

Ah, but Shimabukuro, a Japanese American born and raised in Hawaii, is not Do Ho, nor is he a novelty act. He has been dubbed “The Jimi Hendrix of the Ukulele.”

He boldly takes the uke where no instrument has gone before; he can be an inventive, fleet-fingered jazz player one moment, a screaming rock titan the next. He can spin gorgeous, traditional Hawaiian melodies, classical complexities and delicate folk songs, then turn around and play every single part of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” He is a virtuoso unmatched by anyone else who takes those four nylon strings anywhere.

Wednesday’s concert finds Shimabukuro accompanied by bassist Nolan Turner and guitarist Dave Preston. Their album Trio was released in 2020.

So call this eclectic power trio the Jake Shimabukuro Experience.

“I’ve never felt like I was on a mission,” Shimabukuro told the Catalyst in 2019. “The most important thing, to me, was I just wanted to show people how fun the ukulele is. And I think it’s one of the least intimidating instruments to pick up. It’s so easy to learn – you can play a chord with just one finger! For a lot of people who’ve never played an instrument, but always fantasized about playing an instrument, I think the ukulele is the perfect one to start with.”

As a teen prodigy, he was famous for his show-offy presentations of rock licks played through a bank of effects pedals.

During our 2019 interview, however, he talked about how he came to back away from those trappings and concentrate on the bare-bones instrument itself.

“I love the simplicity of it, and I always play in traditional tuning,” he said. “And I like just taking the traditional instrument and trying to see how far I can push it. Now of course you can always add things. I’ve seen five-string and six-string ukuleles. It’s cool, you have an extended range and things like that, but to me you lose a little bit of the sound of the instrument. The sound I grew up listening to.”

Details and tickets here.

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