Friday, June 18, 2010

Surreal Uke Night.

Imagine you were in some sort of cello club and Yo Yo Ma casually walked in the door. Or if at your rec soccer league, David Beckham showed up to dribble for a bit.

It was a normal night at our ukulele jam. We'd all just played a song together and one of the organizers was talking about Arlo Guthrie, and he looked to the door and said, "I think we have a special guest." I only saw a woman, so I thought it was a friend of his or something, but then a man walked in with a yellow fibreglass uke case.

It was effing Jake Shimabukuro, who is a virtuoso ukulele player. He is widely considered the world's best uke player. He plays with a clockwork precision and heartfelt passion.

He said he was in town for a(n apparently pseudo-) Ted Talk and a couple of our members invited him to stop by. Bold!

But it was so so so surreal. It was like we were all collectively tripping, mass-hallucinating Shimabukuro in front of us.

He spoke to us about playing and music and some theory, and he played three or four songs for us, including his arrangement of George Harrison's "As My Guitar Gently Weeps," the song he's most famous for on YouTube.

Here's the thing: Shimabukuro plays his uke like a virtuoso would play a classical guitar. I'm not aspiring to play as well as him, or his style, but by god can I appreciate it. In the meantime, I'm going to keep pounding out Nick Gilder.

My good friend Sunny nearly shat her pants when she saw him. The only thing I can think of that's analogous with Jake showing up for me is if Elton John wandered in off the street to sing with us. She got him to sign her Ohana - her primary uke. I gasped when I saw it - the black pen on the beautiful blonde wood - but she told me she has always said that Shimabukuro would be the only one she'd let sign that uke.

I also got my shitty uke signed. It only lights a fire under me to retire it sooner. I wrote Koaloha again today. Hopefully I'll speak to the guy tonight and have a new uke on its way next week.

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