Saw Jake Shimabukuro last night!


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Apr 6, 2013
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Alabama, USA
On the campus of Maryville College, in Maryville, Tennessee. It was incredible. A wonderful, intimate venue. We were in back and still felt close. He was great. He played for over 90 minutes without an intermission. Stunning. If you ever get the chance, go!

Now, here's the zinger... He had a friend on stage about a third of the time playing electric bass. Not only was the bass turned up loudly enough to cover up Jake, but it was distorted at points (to be honest, a lot) and the articulation was not good. Have any of you seen a JS concert with a bass player, or was this something new?

I'm trying really hard to not be a ukulele snob, but y'all, the bass playing was bad. I have to be honest. And the guy covered up Jake's playing. Maybe it was because I was in back. I don't know. I know not everyone can play like Victor Wooten (a friend turned me on to him) but this bass guy just did not sound good. Sorry to rant, but we drove 3.5 hours to see Jake. We wanted to hear Jake. Not distorted, over amplified, unarticulated bass.

Editing to add, I would go see Jake again even if this bass guy was there, just to hear Jake live and solo for part of the concert. He is just too good. Seeing him live is amazing. Part of me doesn't feel worthy to pick up the ukulele again, but a bigger part can't wait to start back practicing and getting better. Jake Shimabukuro is a game changer in the history of ukulele. He played his two tenors and also played a baritone Kamaka that is a few decades old. All three had a distinct and amazing sound. In Jake's hands, pure magic.
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Thanks for the post...

INteresting, no all this is new for Jake.

I have seen him for about 5 years in a row and each time he has changed the venue, and the act... always a bit bigger, more people bigger venue but it was always him and ONE uke.

I heard he was adding more ukes and a "friend", too bad it sounds like the bass was not played to his level or properly mixed.

Unfortunately he won't be coming round to the usual venues by me this year so that too has changed.

Jake is an amazing musician and wonderful person, but his popularity is making him grow, and hopefully it won't loose the original charm, intimacy and personal touch that his performances have always had including a very friendly meet and greet afterwards.

Last time he had handlers that rushed everyone through, in fact Jake seemed a bit embarrassed with me when we had to rush through a picture because his handlers wanted to move along... I understood his position but was not impressed with the changes.

Don't get me wrong, Jake is awesome, just hope he does not get caught up in the machinery that is show business...

I will certainly continue to support him and go to his concerts if they are accessible to me.
Planning to see Jake in Ventura, CA week after next, hope this issue has been resolved. While at the NAMM show on Sunday, roaming the ukulele booths, came across Bruce Shimabukuro jamming with a guitar player, great moment which I shot. Told him when I first started playing uke July 2013, I looked up ukulele videos and one of the first ones I saw was of him and Jake and it was quite impressive. Bruce was very gracious.

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Hi Ukejenny you are very lucky, glad you enjoyed it shame about the bass but as you say it was still Jake.
All the best Steve.
For this concert, you had to purchase VIP tickets to do a meet and greet before the event. We were there for a bit after, but I'm sure he hadn't had time to make it to the lobby yet. I would have loved VIP's, but they were gone quickly. He said on stage that they recorded all the performances, I sure he and his team listened to last night and get rid of the bass. So I guess I'm a ukulele snob after all.
Jenny you are not being a snob just honest.

the VIP idea is great for him and those that can pay.

But part of the charm of Jake is being a "peoples musician" and I will be completely disappointed and surprised if he stops the short meet and greet after his concerts because that will change the whole "vibe" of his concerts... I doubt this would happen though because at the very least this is when they sell a lot of merchandise after the concert and he signs stuff etc...
Great that you got to go! My dad called me right after the show (he lives in the area and went). He didn't mention the bass being too loud. I wonder if it did have to do with acoustics where you were versus where he was. I don't know where he sat though. All he mentioned was that the bass player was a very large man, and only noted that because of the difference in the two people on stage.
Told him when I first started paying uke July 2013, I looked up ukulele videos and one of the first ones I saw was of him and Jake and I was quite impressive.

Was that video of he and Jake playing You Belong To Me (Taylor Swift) at the Uke Fest in Honolulu?
Glad you saw him. He's great. I have not ever seen him with an accompanist of any sort. I I don't know if I would like that or not. But I do love to see him.
I am going to see him here in Boise. Can't wait, hope that the bass is better, I guess we will see!
I'm going to see him in March, and I have to say, I'm disappointed to hear about these changes. I've seen so many musicians go this route. I find a solo artist who I really like, pay for tickets, then find out what I came to hear is being drowned out and replaced by something that does not interest me in the slightest. Ditto for recordings --- I am so opposed to all that overproduced stuff with textures so thick you could cut them with a knife. Ugh! VIP "meet & greet" tickets for the Ridgefield event were $100, so my husband and I did not opt for that. I'm still glad I'm going, but I sure hope they turn down the bass, or maybe leave it out by the time they get to CT! And let's hope he doesn't start adding drums and guitars too........
It sounds like the problem was with the guy mixing at the PA board. It probably sounded correct to the musicians on stage. Some concert halls are difficult to get right. That said, Jake might be better off if his friend played an acoustic stand-up bass. Hard to over amp one of those.
I know nothing about mixing music. This was a pretty small auditorium - very nicely done. He chose some wonderful songs, though I didn't recognize some of them. The way he uses his hands, just doesn't seem human. It is amazing to watch, and hear. I will be interested to hear what the show is like later on in the tour. I know someone on UU saw him the night before, in Athens, Georgia. I would like to know what the set was like down there.
I'll be at his concert on Feb 16th here in San Luis Obispo. Hoping to hear ukulele and not the "big band" sound. I'll let you know.
We had the unique experience to see Jake on Maui last night in front of a "home crowd". I have to agree with everything UkeJenny said. I don't think it was a mixing problem. Jake likes to talk about making a connection with the audience. When it's just him I feel that "connection" because the passion and emotion of his "voice" are stunning. When the bass was accompanying him I heard nice music, but I lost the "connection". It's the first time I left one of his concerts thinking it was just an ok show. (He does play a few songs with a baritone, by himself, that we're great. And of course, we loved all the solo songs.)

I have to admit there was a good deal of the "home crowd" who gave a rousing response to the songs with the bass accompaniment. I understand music is all very personal, and everyone will react differently. I understand why Jake would be looking for new ways to keep his shows "fresh". So to each his own, but if you've seen Jake before, be prepared for something different. Oh, and get your tickets on the right side of the theater. You'll thank me later.
Thank you for the reply, w/o. I'm thinking an acoustic bass, played very well and mixed to allow the ukulele to be heard, would have sounded fine.
I saw Jake's concert tonight in San Luis Obispo. Great venue at Cal Poly….amazing concert hall. The bass player appeared less than 10% of the time. My opinions (and only that): I felt the bass was unnecessary, muddy and droning but it didn't bother me too much and never drowned the ukulele sound. My favorite parts were a wonderful piece of Japanese music and all the pieces played on the baritone uke. The full-on digital rock piece was also great. Some of the stuff was over amped especially in the beginning. The light effects were amazing but tended toward a Vegas show. Didn't bother me but did bother my musician friends who attended with me. Overall I loved the concert. It made me realize what I like in my own playing.
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Personally, I think Jake's latest CD, Grand Ukuleke, itself is overproduced (the heavy handed touch of Mr Parsons, no doubt) compared to his prior more stripped down, ukulele based works, leading up to the impeccable landmark, Peace, Love, Ukulele. Overproduction for uke CDs seems to be the trend; Brittni Paiva's latest suffered similar consequences (some tunes barely have any audible uke at all).

Yeah, Jake's not bad, though. Does he still smile all the time? When I saw him, he smiled a lot. Must be a habit.
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"Yeah, Jake's not bad, though. Does he still smile all the time? When I saw him, he smiled a lot. Must be a habit."

Indeed he did smile all the time. He really seems to enjoy himself and that carries to the audience. His best line went something like this, "The nice thing about being on a ukulele tour is that people come with such low expectations." The audience loved it.
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