I took my three and a half year old daughter Nadia to the Jake Shimabukuro concert last night in St. Paul. She has heard Jake's music for more than half of her young life thanks to my ever present playing around the house. While she doesn't usually react too much too instrumentals (she likes singing), she's seems to enjoy most shows that we've taken her to see.
It was an especially cold day yesterday. Temperature around here had been in the mid to high 30's recently, but dropped to probably below 10, with some light snow. I'm sure Jake enjoyed that. Anyway, we made it there at around 6:50PM or so. Before the show, which starts at 7:30, there was what they called a "lecture" (I think) at the second floor outside the main hall. I don't know the name of the group, but there were two people there singing while the audience waiting for the show gathered around and listened. A girl played an Oscar Schmidt ukulele (one that looks like an electric guitar) and a guy played the guitar. When we got there they were just finishing up their song and then answered some questions for the audience. A few people asked the girl about ukuleles and based on her response, I think the ukulele was just a musical tool for her and she didn't seem to have any special knowledge of it other than knowing how to play it.
Once that was done, the doors to the main hall opened and we went in to find our seats. I found out later that the main hall had a capacity of 1900 people and they sold about 1500 tickets. I think that's a heck of a lot of people buying tickets for a relative unknown artist around these parts. Perhaps many of the people who showed up did not know what to expect, but I think they were treated to a good show.
The show was broken into two halves with an intermission. During the first half, Jake played mostly songs that were more familiar to me such as Blue Roses Falling and Let's Dance. During the second half, he played a few songs that I had not heard much of before such as Piano Forte and Five Dollars Unleaded. I was really hoping that he played Thriller, but alas, it wasn't on the set list last night.
Nadia sat on my lap most of the time during the show and during the second half, she fell asleep despite the fairly loud music pumping through the speakers. I kind of wonder if Jake's music has become her bedtime music since I'm usually playing the ukulele next to her when she goes to bed and lot of what I play is Jake's music. Whatever is the case, she was a good little companion and I was able to enjoy the show very much.
After the show, Jake made himself available at the second floor outside the main hall to chat, take pictures, and sign autographs. Since I already met him last year and there were so many people, I was thinking maybe I would just leave after the show. But Jake announced during the show that they have his new Live album available for sale afterwards, so I had to stay to get a copy.
The line was indeed very long. We actually got in toward the front part of it but it still took almost an hour to reach him. Just before where Jake was standing, they had setup a table to sell his CDs, T-shirts, and some other stuff. I grabbed the Live CD and decided to get a copy of Gently Weeps as well. I had downloaded the album from itunes quite a while ago, but I thought it would be cool to get the actual album signed by him since it's by far the most influential album to me as far as ukulele goes. Without that album, I probably wouldn't be anywhere close to being such a ukulele nut today.
As we approached the merchandise table, Jake saw Nadia and started waving to her. She was holding a pink Makala dolphin bridge ukulele and he asked if that was her ukulele. When it was our turn to meet with him, she walked up to him and he ask what her name was. She told him and when he asked if she wanted him to sign her ukulele, she said yes. I proceeded to tell Jake about our little video of her singing Aldrine Guerrero's Buttercup and told him he could tell Aldrine that he actually met the 3 year old who covered his song next time he sees him (Aldrine had left a comment on our video, so I'm pretty sure he knows about it). Jake also signed the 2 CDs I bought and thanked us for coming. You can tell that he's genuinely appreciative of the support from his fans and I think that's even more likable than his music. As we left, Jake told Nadia that he'll tell Aldrine that he met her. I thought that was pretty cool. It may or may not actually happen, but a nice moment nonetheless.
So this was the 2nd time I've seen Jake play in person within the last year. Previously I thought I would never be able to see him play live unless I got lucky and caught a show in Hawaii, so it is definitely cool to have him come here and play. I'm pretty impressed that there were over 1000 people who showed up for this show despite the bad weather outside. Hopefully there will be future Jake Shimabukuro shows in the Twin Cities. Definitely a great experience.
Nadia's autographed pink Makala
CD's signed by Jake