‘Christmas in Hawaii’ brings extra aloha to community
Ukulele master Jake Shimabukuro is often known as the accidental star. He was discovered when a YouTube video of him strumming his ukulele in Central Park went viral.
Always modest, Shimabukuro said he was just “in the right place at the right time.”
The born and raised Hawaiian started playing ukulele at the age of 4 when his mother taught him his first chord.
“I fell in love with it, and I still love it just as much today as I did back then,” he said.
What: Jake Shimabukuro’s “Christmas in Hawaii”
When: 7 p.m. Sunday
Where: Strings Pavilion, 900 Strings Road
More info: StringsMusicFestival.com
And while he always imagined himself as an elementary school teacher, after the viral YouTube video, his career path as a musician was clear; he had opportunities to tour, perform and travel the world. Now his travels will bring him to Steamboat Springs, where he will perform his newest show, “Christmas in Hawaii,” on the stage at Strings this Sunday.
“This is the first time I’ve ever done a show like this before,” Shimabukuro said. “I thought a holiday show would be fun, especially with everything that’s been going on. I wanted to do something nice to bring a little extra aloha and joy to different communities through music.”
Playing a mix of holiday classics like “We Three Kings,” “O Holy Night,” “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and his own version of “Carol of the Bells,” the renowned ukulele player will be joined by special guests Jackson Waldhoff on bass, singer-songwriter Thunderstorm Artis on vocals and percussionist Taku Hirano.
The show will combine holiday favorites with a selection of music from Shimabukuro’s latest album “Jake & Friends,” which was released in November 2021. What began as a discussion with his manager four years ago, turned into a star-studded album featuring artists like Willie Nelson, Bette Midler, Jack Johnson, Vince Gill, Amy Grant and more.
When producer Ray Benson made a call to Willie Nelson, Shimabukuro found himself, two months later, in the studio with the country icon. From there, the project gained momentum as stars like Ziggy Marley, Kenny Loggins and Jimmy Buffet also signed on.
Hailed as “the most famous ukulele player in the world” by American Songwriter, Shimabukuro said this latest album was symbolic. “It represents people coming together again through all of the collaborations.”
Now, through “Christmas in Hawaii,” Shimabukuro wants to bring communities together at the holidays.
“This time of year is always special for me, because it’s a time to gather with friends and family and celebrate,” Shimabukuro said. “We haven’t been able to do that, and while we’re not completely out of the woods yet, it’s nice to start slowly bringing music back, and it’s nice that people can start getting together, again. Music does spread joy and positivity; it brings communities closer together.”
Sophie Dingle is a contributing writer for the Steamboat Pilot & Today. She can be reached through the editor.
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