By: Jude Falcon - MSTv
Its rare when we see someone do the incredible, but we've seen it today in the music of Jake Shimabukuro. And he did it, amazingly enough, with a ukulele; that "mini-me" cousin of the guitar.
It seems unlikely to think that this small instrument, which brings up memories of that musical madman, Tiny Tim and his many "tiptoes through the tulips," might be welded with such a precision to play that Michael Jackson hit, Billie Jean. But it seems Shimabukuro likes to do the improbable. Just view the video below.
“It’s capable of playing a lot different styles of music,” Shimabukuro said. “People thought you could only play simple songs on it but now they are realizing that, ‘Wow, I can play complicated tunes. I can play songs that are hip and cool.’ That draws people in. And it’s very affordable.”
Having played the instrument since he was 4, Shimabukuro, an admittedly horrible singer, focused on playing melodies because most people didn't get his strumming.
So, he practiced, improvised and perfected his own style. “I needed to figure out how to make the arrangements exciting,” he said. “So I incorporated a lot of percussive, rhythmic things.”
And now, the diligence of this 36 year old Hawaii native has paid off. His unique style has made Shimabukuro a Youtube star and he now tours nationwide to amazed and sold out audiences. His reasoning for this? Far too many people underestimate the power of the ukulele.
“When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time experimenting with amplifying the ukulele, to make it growl, to make it roar. Because everyone knows the soft, gentle side of the instrument, but there’s a beast that lives in the instrument as well. It’s been fun discovering that and showing people that side of the instrument.”
And roar it will as Jake takes to Baton Rouge's Shaw Center stage, on March 23 at 8 pm sharp. If you think he can't surprise you as well, then perhaps you need to take a second look at the video above.
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