UCSB presents everyone from ukulele virtuoso to acclaimed authors
Editor’s note: This is the first in a series on UCSB Arts & Lectures’ virtual programs.
Jake Shimabukuro can rock out on everything from Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” to a well-known riff from Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love.”
He does it all on his ukulele.
Mr. Shimabukuro made a big impression on fans of all ages when he performed in 2019 at The Granada and an outdoor stage at UCSB.
The Honolulu native is up for an encore, and you can watch him do his magic, thanks to UCSB Arts & Lectures.
His performance is among the virtual programs this month at artsandlectures.ucsb.edu. Other presentations include authors Ta-Nehisi Coates and Anne Lamott at 5 p.m. Jan. 12 and Jan. 14 respectively.
Mr. Shimabukuro’s virtual concert is set for 5 p.m. Jan. 19.
He’s known for taking the four-string, two-octave ukulele to new horizons. His music varies from rock to jazz, blues, bluegrass, classical and folk.
In addition to his performance, the Jan. 19 program will include a Q&A session.
In 2019, Mr. Shimabukuro talked with the News-Press after playing his ukulele in front of UCSB’s Storke Tower during his day of Arts & Lectures concerts. A packed Storke Plaza watched as the musician leaned back, closed his eyes, bent his knees, tapped his foot.
And rocked out.
“It’s an instrument you can pick up and start playing right away, very quickly, which is nice,” he told the News-Press. “If you like rock music, you can learn rock riffs. If you like blues, the same thing. If you like jazz standards, it’s the perfect instrument for all of that.”
He discussed playing “Bohemian Rhapsody,” a complicated rock work with operatic overtones, on just four strings.
“I did a couple interviews where people asked me if I thought it would be possible to do that on the ukulele,” Mr. Shimabukuro told the News-Press afterward. “That same year, I got asked to be a speaker at a TED Talk. For the presentation, I wanted to learn that (‘Bohemian Rhapsody’).
“It took a long time to get it right,” he said. “I still tweak it every now and then.”
During his 2019 Santa Barbara shows, he also performed classics such as George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”
“He’s just breathtaking,” Carly Kay, a UCSB communications major, told the News-Press after the 2019 concert in Storke Plaza. “The way he can have his instrument sing is incredible.”
A few hours before the UCSB concert, Mr. Shimabukuro was performing and giving a talk at The Granada for a thousand or so fourth- through sixth-graders from 12 Santa Barbara County schools. He talked about melodies and chords in-between performances of music such as Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s ukulele arrangement of “Over the Rainbow” from “The Wizard of Oz” (1939). He got the kids to sing along with him on Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling!”
In addition to Mr. Shimabukuro’s noteworthy music, Ms. Lamott will discuss her “Notes on Hope” during her Jan. 14 virtual talk and Q&A.
The author will talk about rediscovering the nuggets of hope that are buried within people and society. Her latest book is “Almost Everything: Notes on Hope.”
Ms. Lamott reminds readers that even when people are “doomed, stunned, exhausted and over-caffeinated,” they can find the seeds of rejuvenation.
Her bestselling books are known for their straightforward observations and humor.
On Jan. 12, Mr. Coates will give his virtual talk.
The author has been compared to writer James Baldwin and will discuss his works during a Q&A moderated by Terrance Wooten, a professor in the UCSB Department of Black Studies. The program is part of UCSB’s “Race to Justice” series.
Mr. Coates is the author of the National Book Award-winning “Between the World and Me,” as well as the bestsellers “Beautiful Struggle” and “We Were Eight Years in Power.” This fall, HBO will release an adaptation of “Between the World and Me,” featuring Montecito resident Oprah Winfrey and Angela Bassett.
His first novel, “The Water Dancer,” was released in September 2019.
Mr. Coates is also the current author of Marvel’s “The Black Panther” and “Captain America” comics.