published Thursday, March 21st, 2013

Ukulele master

Jake Shimabukuro plays tonight in Athens


* What: Jake Shimabukuro in concert.

* When: 7:30 p.m. today, March 21.

* Where: Athens City Middle School, 200 Keith Lane, Athens, Tenn.

* Admission: $18 adults ($20 at door), $10 students.

* Phone: 423-745-8781.

* Website:

* Note: Advance tickets available by phone, online or at The Arts Center, 320 N. White St., Athens, Tenn. Tickets will be sold at the door as available.

Ukulele sensation Jake Shimabukuro will close out the Athens Area Council for the Arts’ Big Time/Small Town Performance Series tonight, March 21.

The performer began playing the traditional Hawaiian instrument at age 4 at the urging of his mother, who also played. “Everyone plays in Hawaii,” the Hawaii native has said, “but I became obsessed with it.”

His ability to stretch and mold the instrument into a musical force has earned him comparisons to Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis.

On his most recent album, “Peace Love Ukulele,” which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard World Album Chart, Shimabukuro blends jazz, rock, classical, folk and traditional Hawaiian music, creating a sound that has been described as “technically masterful, emotionally powerful and utterly unique in the music world.”

The New York Times recently noted that “the innovation in his style stems from an embrace of restrictions: the ukulele has only four strings and a limited range. He compensates with an adaptable combination of rhythmic strumming, classical-style finger-picking and fretboard tapping.”

Shimabukuro has performed with Bela Fleck, Bette Midler, Yo-Yo Ma, Cyndi Lauper, Levon Helm and Les Paul, among others. His career skyrocketed when a YouTube clip of him performing “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” in Central Park went viral, with more than 8 million views to date.

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