Jake Shimabukuro has been redefining what the ukulele is capable of for the last 20 years, and on 14 February 2020, he returns with his new album ‘Trio,’ his first on Music Theories Recordings, a division of Mascot Label Group.
Jake has revealed the official video for the opening song ‘When The Masks Come Down’ and talking about the song he says; “When The Masks Come Down was the first song we wrote together in the studio for the Trio project. We started with a key in mind and began to improvise until we played something we all liked. The biggest challenge with this song was trying to make it work without a drummer. However, with the absence of drums, I can hear all of the subtle nuances in the guitar, bass and ukulele. It’s a fun song to perform in front of an audience.”
“People call me ‘an ambassador for the ukulele,’ but I really don’t see myself that way,” Shimabukuro says. “I’m simply a fan of the instrument. Ever since I was a kid, I just loved playing it, and over time, I started to realize that you could do more than just play traditional songs on it. You can play heavy metal riffs and make different sounds. You can make it rock like an electric guitar. There’s no end to what you can do on the ukulele, and it’s been rewarding for me to show that to people all over the world. I still love and respect traditional music, but I also enjoy exploring other sounds on the instrument.”
“I’ve always had this vision as a kid, I would watch rock bands, like Van Halen and guitar players like Yngwie Malmsteen and you’d see these guys running all across the stage, jumping into the audience, stage-diving and yelling and screaming,” he says. “I always thought to myself, why can’t a ukulele concert be like that?”
Jake has been lauded by Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder who said, “Jake is taking the instrument to a place that I can’t see anyone else catching up with.”
He started to experiment with effect pedals and transforms the tiny instrument into a million different musical forms, dexterously playing jazz, rock, classical, traditional Hawaiian music, as well as folk. It is this that has led him to collaborate with a number of incredible musicians such as Warren Haynes, Tommy Emmanuel, Jimmy Buffett (who also took him on tour for 3 years and appears on a number of albums), Jack Johnson, Cyndi Lauper, Ziggy Marley as well as renowned shredders like Paul Gilbert and Marty Friedman. Add to this the time he performed at the 2009 Royal Variety Performance with Bette Midler in front of Queen Elizabeth II, even meeting Her Majesty after the performance.
A tireless live performer, he’s floored audiences across the globe, appearing at music festivals as varied as Bonnaroo and the Fuji Rock Festival. He’s played with world-renowned orchestras at prestigious venues from the Hollywood Bowl to the Sydney Opera House. The “Jimi Hendrix of the Ukulele” has gone on to appear on some of the biggest national TV shows in the world including Late Night with Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Carson Daly, The Today Show and BBC Breakfast.
Early 2019, Shimabukuro, Verner and Preston holed up in Nashville’s Sound Emporium studio with only a few snippets of riffs and melodies fleshed out, and over the course of a week jams took flight and became songs. Guiding the process was producer R.S. Field (Steve Earle, Webb Wilder, John Mayall, Sonny Landreth).
2020 will prove to be another landmark year for Shimabukuro, with a second special release to follow later in the year, where he collaborates with a number of high-profile guests. ‘Jake & Friends’ will feature artists such as Lyle Lovett, Bette Midler, Jack Johnson, Jon Anderson (Yes), Warren Haynes (The Allman Brothers Band, Gov’t Mule), Moon Taxi, Ray Benson (Asleep At The Wheel) and Michael McDonald (The Doobie Brothers) amongst others. More details to follow.