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Donnie Bubbles

When I heard Jake would be playing at the Colonial Theater in Phoenixville, Pa, which is right down the road from me, I jumped at the chance to see him live. If you haven't seen him yet, do not miss the opportunity - on video and record he is amazing - live you will not believe your eyes or your ears.

Once good tickets were secured, I decided to take the express train out of my comfort zone and try to set up a video interview with him. Much to my delight, his media manager, Michael Bloom, and tour manager, Mark Darlen, were amazingly helpful in arranging time for the interview, and the rumors about Jake are true: he is the most friendly, gracious and humble person I have ever met.

First Excuse: While acoustically good, the Colonial is 100 years old, and those were hard worn years. My plan was two cameras and a sound recorder covering Jake and I sitting in the front row, but we had no control over the house lights so we had to set up on stage. There was only one seat, which I thought I should graciously let Jake have, especially since it was his seat. This left me rocking around on the squeaky floorboards of the stage. With all that rocking and squeaking, I decided to just go with the one best camera and sound source.

The final footage was cut into two nine minute videos. My questions with time stamps are listed below in case you want to jump to a specific question/answer.

Part 1

0:00 - There are a few people in a lifetime that are truly extraordinary in their field: people like Tiger in golf, Bruce in Martial Arts, and Michael in basketball. More than just successful, they make the impossible look effortless, and accomplish amazing feats with a grace and economy of motion that is beautiful to behold.

If you wanted to add a musician to that list, it would be Jake Shimabukuro. Listen to him play and you will assume you are listening to several musicians. See him play, and you will be amazed.

0:35 - Sometimes, when musicians reach a high level of skill they get trapped in that skill and lose sight of the music. While complex, your arrangements serve the music well and don’t come across as excessive. Is this a balance you work to maintain when you are composing and arranging songs?

2:45 - In Malcolm Gladwell’s book, The Outliers, he asserts that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to be world class at anything: hockey, playing classical music, you name it – 10,000 hours. At 40 hours a week, that’s about 5 years. When would you estimate that you crossed the 10,000 hour mark, and does that time period correlate with any milestones in your career?

6:08 - Rumor has it that you are finally releasing the fabled "Book of Jake Tabs" next year. Is this true, and do you have a song list and release date yet?

Part 2

0:00 - In addition to your solo work, you have toured and recorded with musicians as diverse as Bela Fleck, Jimmy Buffet and Yo Yo Ma. In which of these situations do you feel most comfortable, and in which do you feel the most challenged creatively?

5:00 - Your brother, Bruce, is a talented ukulele player too. Do you have plans to work together on any projects?

6:10 - James Hill is the other ukulele player in your range. Do you know each other, and will there ever be a Jake/James duet?

7:35 - At the other end of the ukulele experience range, there is me. If I was a baseball fan and met Babe Ruth, I would have to ask him to play a game of catch. I would like to try and play something together with you, if that's okay? (Last Excuse: This is my first performance on video, and I'm sure you can guess who was hitting the flat notes ;-)

Jake Shimabukuro: Jake Shimabukuro
Web Site: www.JakeShimabukuro.com
Photo Credit: Hisashi Uchida

  1. HaileISela June 22, 2009 at 4:35 AM  

    Hey Donnie!

    this was sooo awesome! mahalos for that great interview!


  2. Simon June 22, 2009 at 5:52 AM  

    The impro at the end shows the quality of his musicianship. Excellent.

  3. Ed June 22, 2009 at 4:37 PM  

    I'm glad you finally put a video of yourself up! Especcially playing the Uke.

  4. Al June 25, 2009 at 3:58 AM  

    Congratulations, Donnie. Best Jake interview I've ever seen.