Jake Shimabukuro entertains 800 students at The Granada
Ukulele great Jake Shimabukuro entertained 800 fourth through sixth graders Thursday morning at The Granada.
Mr. Shimabukuro was in Santa Barbara for a “Christmas in Hawai’i” concert Thursday night at the same venue. But long before the evening show, Mr. Shimabukuro played for the kids and answered their questions. He even signed a ukulele brought to him by one of the students.
The kids came to the UCSB Arts & Lectures program from Cleveland, Adams, Kellogg, Mountain View, Hollister, Crane and Cold Spring schools.
After the program, approximately 30 students from Our Lady of Mount Carmel School in Montecito enjoyed a meet-and-greet with Mr. Shimabukuro. Like him, they carried four-string instruments. They were members of the school’s ukulele club.
At Thursday night’s concert, Mr. Shimabukuro and his trio played his signature favorites, holiday classics and selections from his 2021 album “Jake & Friends.” Performing with Mr. Shimabukuro were Herb Ohta Jr., a ukulele musician who’s the son of ukulele legend Ohta-san, and Justin Kawika Young, who has been the lead guitarist and background vocalist for Colbie Caillat and a member of Gone West, an American country pop group.
All three are from Hawaii.
Thursday was Mr. Shimabukuro’s first time back in Santa Barbara since his visit here in 2019, when he entertained kids at The Granada and performed an outdoor concert at UCSB. He demonstrated he could play anything, from Louis Armstrong’s “What A Wonderful World” to Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love.” He plays everything from rock to bluegrass to folk and classical music on his ukulele, proving that all it takes is four strings and a lot of talent.
In 2019, he even played Queen’s complex “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
“It took a long time to get it right,” Mr. Shimabukuro told the News-Press that year. “I still tweak it every now and then.”
He also said he had considered a career in education, which seems fitting in light of his programs for kids in 2019 and again on Thursday.
“Now I get the best of both worlds. I get to work with kids and do these concerts.”