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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

JAKE SHIMABUKURO: BEST UKE EVER

One list has Jake Shimabukuro as the Best Ukulele Player in the World.  Strange list, though, as Daniel Ho is #14, Eddie Kamae is #17 and Taylor Swift is #43.  Here is a link to the 12 Best Ukulele Videos on You Tube...with Jake at #1.  It now has 15.5 million views, and is the clip that made him virally famous.

The world might be more familiar with names like Roy Smeck and George Formby from old movies, Arthur Godfrey on television, or, maybe even, Tiny Tim with his Tiptoe Through the Tulips.  But Hawaii is where the uke was invented, deriving from the Portuguese machete.

Early local virtuosos started with Ernest Kaai, who published the first ukulele instruction book in 1910--The Ukulele:  A Hawaiian Guitar.  It's still on sale from Amazon for $563.12.  Only two used copies left.

"King" Benny Nawai (right) performed on Matson Lines in the 20's and 30's, became totally blind in 1935, but continued his uke playing.  He spent a career in vaudeville.

Blind from the age of 10, John Almeida (left) composed over 300 songs, and was the Dean of Hawaiian Music.  He too played on Matson ships and helped start 49th State records from where came the greatest Hawaiian music.

Jesse Kalima (right) won The Hawaii Amateur Championship in 1935 at the age of 15 with his signature Stars and Stripes Forever.  He was one of the Kalmia Brothers (one of the three was a cousin) known as 1000 Pounds of Melody.

Andy Cummings in 1938, while on a concert tour, at 5 F in Michigan, composed Waikiki.  Sometimes you need to be away to appreciate what you have.

In 1960 Gabby Pahinui (slack-key guitar) and Eddie Kamae, known for his uke, formed The Sons of Hawaii.  Many credit Kamae with the Hawaiian Cultural Renaissance.  He learned to play the ukulele when his bus driver brother found one on his bus.

More recently, there has been an ethnic-Japanese (all born in Hawaii) connection to the ukulele.  Ohta-san was inspired by Eddie Kamae, and in 1955, at the age of 21, Herb Ohta performed Lady of Spain on his use on the Ed Sullivan Show, leading to a long career of 30 albums.  Read about Song for Anna.


He was mentor to Roy Sakuma, who started his Annual Hawaiian Ukulele Festival in 1971, now the largest in the world.  He earlier this year was featured at 15 Craigside, mostly telling the story of his life.  One of the students in Roy Sakuma Studio was Jake Shimabukuro.

Jake began entertaining as a member of Pure Heart, a trio with Lopaka Colon and Jon Yamasato in 1998.  They broke up in 2002, but just this past weekend came together for a performance at the Hawaii Theater.

There is an annual music awards program in Hawaii called Na Hoku Hanohano.  He has won 16 awards since his first in 1999.

He plays a 4-string tenor Kamaka Ukulele.  Likes to plug it into an amplifier to play it loud.

Having attained commercial success, now at 41, he has leads the Four String Foundation to give kids an opportunity to make a difference:  strive to be the best, live drug-free and have fun.

Now, why he would appear at 15 Craigside is the same reason as why the Royal Hawaii Band comes twice/year...we are at the gateway to Purgatory.  Also, probably through knowing someone.

He gave us a full concert of his hits, and told us his life story.  His wife of six years is an OB/GYN physician, and they have two sons.  This was probably the best concert I've ever attended.  Front row and free.

I last saw Jake at least ten years ago.  I would swear that, not only is he a lot better looking, he looks younger.  Here with Sue, who have him her personally-make lei:


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Now Tropical Storm Harvey is back in the Gulf of Mexico continues to inundate Houston:


However, an area called Mary's Creek at Winding Road has already seen 49.2 inches, the most ever for the 48-states, and it's still raining.  Next, Louisiana, but by Friday, Harvey will begin to make a more traditional track to the northeast:



Current estimated damages are now up to $42 billion.  Katrina was around $100 billion.

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