Uke strummer coming to GJ

It’s not every day a musician comes to Grand Junction who has drawn comparisons to iconic musicians Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis and Bill Monroe.

But here comes ukulele player Jake Shimabukuro, who Allmusic’s online site,, compared to the aforementioned musicians for his innovative approach to the instrument that resembles a mini-guitar.

Shimabukuro plays at 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 16, at Mesa Theater and Club, 538 Main St. Tickets to the all-ages show are $20 in advance at the club or at The cost goes up to $22 on show day.

Although ukulele is not an instrument commonly heard in concert in the Grand Valley, it is an instrument Shimabukuro has used to cover popular tunes such as Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” and the Beatles’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”

Both videos are on YouTube.

According to, Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder said this about Shimabukuro: “Jake is taking the instrument to a place that I can’t see anybody else catching up with him.”

In a recent interview from publicists, Shimabukuro talked about his plans, ukulele fear and musical dreams.

Excerpts from the interview are below.

“Shore Fire Media: Your most recent album ‘Peace Love Ukulele’ was a huge breakthrough for you. What can we expect from you in 2012?

“Shimabukuro: I’ll definitely be working on a new album and plan on releasing it in the fall of this year. I also have a documentary coming out with PBS.

“Shore Fire Media: After taking on covers of ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ and ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ are there any other songs/artists you’re considering covering?

“Shimabukuro: I would love to come up with a solo ukulele arrangement of the entire side B of ‘Abbey Road.’

“Shore Fire Media: Who are some of your dream collaborations?

“Shimabukuro: My dream would be to collaborate with symphonies all over the world.

“Shore Fire Media: What do you think when you hear ukulele clubs are being formed across the country and that music stores are selling out of the instrument?

“Shimabukuro: As a huge fan of the ukulele, I’m always thrilled to hear things like that. The ukulele is the underdog of musical instruments, and I always root for the underdog.”


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