Though many still have trouble pronouncing his last name, Jake Shimabukuro (she-ma-BOO-koo-row) is becoming recognized as one of the world’s top ukulele musicians. Renowned for lightning-fast fingers and revolutionary playing techniques, Jake views the ukulele as an “untapped source of music with unlimited potential.” Playing jazz, blues, funk, classical, bluegrass, folk, flamenco, and rock, Jake proves that the ukulele is capable of much more than traditional Hawaiian music.
At just four years of age, Jake had his first ukulele lesson from his mother and fell in love with the instrument. A true showman, he captivates audiences with intricate strumming and plucking, electrifying high-energy grooves, and smooth, melodic ballads. His covers of tunes by The Beatles and Led Zeppelin have dazzled and delighted audiences worldwide.
Jake has played at renowned venues such as the House of Blues and The Knitting Factory (Los Angeles); The Birchmere (Alexandria, Virginia); Tipitina’s (New Orleans); Joe’s Pub, Highline Ballroom, and B. B. King’s Blues Club (New York City); The Bumbershoot Festival (Seattle); The Fuji Rock Festival (Japan); and many others. Tours with Jimmy Buffett have broadened Jake’s experience, regularly exposing his virtuosity and amazing stage presence to large crowds. Jake has also performed on national television shows such as NBC’s The Late Show with Conan O’Brien and Last Call with Carson Daly.
“Rainbow,” a track from Jake’s Walking Down Rainhill, was selected as Hawaii Tourism Japan’s theme song as well as the official Honolulu Marathon theme song in 2004. In 2006, Jake’s “Beyond the Break” was selected as the marathon’s theme song.
Jake’s collaborations and special projects are varied. He’s toured with Béla Fleck and the Flecktones and recorded on the band’s Little Worlds album. Jake is also featured on Ziggy Marley’s Grammy Award–winning Love Is My Religion, as well as on CDs and DVDs by Jimmy Buffett and The Coral Reefer Band. Jake’s work with Jimmy also led to his contributions to the soundtrack of the Buffett-produced film Hoot. Jake later scored the hit Japanese independent film Hula Girls, which was Japan’s official entry to the 2007 Academy Awards in the Best Foreign Film category and also won four Japanese Academy Awards the same year.
Jake has performed with and/or opened for Fiona Apple, Bobby McFerrin, Chris Thile, Mike Marshall, The Honolulu Symphony, Cyndi Lauper, Ziggy Marley, Futureman (of Béla Fleck and Flecktones), and The Black Mozart Ensemble, Bryan Adams, and Katie Melua, among many others.