Jake Shimabukuro returns to the Palace

  • Courtesy photo Ukulele master Jake Shimabukuro has two upcoming performances on the Big Island.

The Palace Theater is proud and excited to announce the return of Jake Shimabukuro on Jan. 12.

Doors open at 6 p.m., with the show beginning at 7 p.m. A sell-out crowd is the usual for fans of Shimabukuro, who says he loves to “play the Palace.”


Every major artist has that one defining album or performance, but for ukulele master Shimabukuro, his entire career has been filled with such achievements. Since he first came to the world’s attention with his original take on George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” in a viral video that dominated YouTube in 2005, the Hawaii-born Shimabukuro has virtually reinvented the four-string instrument, causing many to call him “the Jimi Hendrix of the ukulele.”

“I just wanted to play the ukulele my way, which turns out to be very different from what everybody else has done,” says Shimabukuro, who started playing the instrument at the age of 4 and learned the basics from his mother, Carol. “Most people just strummed the ukulele, but I started playing melodies, and a new world opened up — I was singing through the ukulele.”

Albums such as “Gently Weeps,” “Peace Love Ukulele” and “Grand Ukulele” topped the Billboard World Music Charts, and as a live performer Shimabukuro became one of the hottest tickets around, headlining the Hollywood Bowl, Lincoln Center and the Sydney Opera House (he even performed for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II) while making frequent appearances on media outlets such as NBC’s “TODAY,” ABC’s “Good Morning America,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” and “Late Night with Conan O’Brien.”

His newest record, “The Greatest Day,” was released in August.

In 2016, Shimabukuro recorded the all-original “Nashville Sessions” at Music City’s famed Ronnie’s Place studio with producer R.S. Field (Steve Earle, Webb Wilder) and the ace rhythm section of bassist Nolan Verner and drummer Evan Hutchings. He returned to the same city and studio — and with the same gang (augmented by guitarist Dave Preston) — to record “The Greatest Day.”

“On the last record, it was pretty much the sound of a live trio, which sounded fresh, raw and organic,” Shimabukuro says. “Now we’ve expanded to a quartet, which has added more colors and variety to the overall production. Once we recorded the live takes, we experimented with overdubs, and added horns, strings and keys and other funky sounds. There are even some vocals on a few cuts.”

Shimabukuro already performs some of the material from “The Greatest Day” live and soon will work more into his set. In mid-July, he embarks on an extensive tour of the U.S. and a fall tour of Japan.

“I’m really excited to play the new songs in my shows,” he says. “Making this record was one of the highlights I’ve had in the studio. I couldn’t be happier with the sounds and arrangements. But most of all, we had a ton of fun making it.”

Tickets for the upcoming Palace event can be purchased at the theater’s box office, located at 38 Haili St. in Hilo, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday through Friday or by calling 934-7010.

For more information, visit www.hilopalace.com.


Shimabukuro to kick off Hawaii Performing Arts Festival’s new year

For fifteen seasons, Hawaii Performing Arts Festival has brought world-class music to Hawaii Island. The festival, founded in 2005, established an international reputation as a premiere training and performance program for aspiring young artists worldwide. Each season, HPAF assembles an exceptional international roster of artists who offer a wide range of performances to the Big Island community.

In preparation for its 2019 Summer Festival, HPAF’s 15th anniversary season, executive director Justin John Moniz welcomes ukulele superstar Jake Shimabukuro to kick off the momentous occasion.

“We are really thrilled to be presenting Jake again this season,” Moniz says. “Jake is one of the most exceptional and innovative ukulele players of our time, and has agreed to return for our annual scholarship fundraiser. All proceeds from his performance will assist aspiring young artists from Hawaii Island, as well as those worldwide, to study and perform during HPAF’s 2019 Summer Festival.”

Last season, HPAF awarded $82,275 in scholarships to local, national and international aspiring young artists. For the first time in the festival’s history, 58 percent of students received scholarship and financial assistance to offset the cost of attending the festival. More specifically, HPAF offered assistance to 100 percent of Hawaiian talent. Nine young singers from Hawaii Island, studied, trained and performed alongside HPAF’s internationally acclaimed roster of faculty artists.

“There really is no better artist who better represents our mission than Jake,” Moniz says. “His commitment to the local community, music education and empowering our youth are the ideals on which our festival was founded some 15 years ago. For the past decade and a half, HPAF’s programming has been a testament to that, both through our extensive community outreach endeavors and educational initiatives across Hawaii Island.”


Hawaii Performing Arts Festival presents Shimabukuro at 2 p.m. Jan 13 at The Westin Hapuna Beach Resort, located at 62-100 Kauna‘ao Drive in on the Kohala Coast. Tickets are $85 general and $100 premium and are available for purchase by visiting www.hawaiiperformingartsfestival.org/upcoming-events/.

For additional information, contact jjmoniz@hawaiipaf.org.

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