Aidin Vaziri | Pretty much everybody who has watched Jake Shimabukuro in action claims that the Hawaiian-born musician is doing for the ukulele what Jimi Hendrix did for the electric guitar – except without all the unnecessary pyromania. The 33-year-old Shimabukuro gained attention with a 2006 YouTube clip that featured him playing an incredible version of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” at Strawberry Fields in Central Park. Since then, he has become a regular on late-night television, toured with Jimmy Buffett, performed for the queen of England, played the national anthem at Madison Square Garden and released a handful of albums. He’s taking a break from recording his latest for a quick West Coast tour.
Q: How hard is it to make the ukulele look sexy?
A: Man, I don’t know. I’m just really a big fan of the instrument. I never thought of the ukulele as a sexy instrument. The ukulele, to me, is an instrument that brings joy to people.
Q: I think when people come to a ukulele concert, the last thing they expect is for the performer to start crowd-surfing on their heads.
A:Yeah, I kind of shied away from that. People come to my concerts and they think they know what they’re going to hear. People have such low expectations of the instrument. And you just throw these other things at them, and they’re surprised. It makes them feel like a kid, and it makes me feel like a kid. But I try to give people their space now when I’m onstage.