I had the pleasure once again last night to see Jake Shimabukuro play at the Ark in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In addition to revised versions of his classics, like "Blue Roses Falling," "Five-Dollars Unleaded," and an all new head and finish for his famous "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" cover, Jake played some of his new songs including "1-4-3," which is pager- speak for "I love you," and "Go for Broke," which is dedicated to the Japanese Americans who served in World War II. The highlight of the evening, however, was his cover of "Bohemian Rhapsody." I saw him do it last year, and it was amazing, but now it has become a much more mature tribute that is less of a "Wow, he's doing this on ukulele," and more of a new anthem for the ukulele itself. I see this as becoming, like "...Weeps," one of Jake's signature pieces. No video of him doing at the Ark, of course, but here is an excerpt of the song from the upcoming documentary about Jake set to premiere in 2011.
After the show, Jake made himself available to meet and greet all of us who cared to. I and the group I went with got our picture taken with Jake and I also introduced myself as the person who interviewed him online last summer. Like last year, he was gracious and sincere.
The crowd, like all Jake crowds, represented a range of people from kids to people in their 70s and 80s, and, of course, a full compliment of Middle Aged Guys with Ukuleles, who seem to be the most fanatic about Jake. Seeing Jake is wonderful, but seeing him in such an intimate venue - the Ark only holds about 400 people and there is no such thing as a bad seat - is truly special. I hope Jake comes back next year; it's wonderful to see him and hear his music as it keeps evolving. Until that time, his new CD, "Peace Love Ukulele" comes out in January.