Leslie's Omnibus

Road Music

A couple of friends invited me to a concert at the Old Town School of Folk Music* in Chicago last night. The music? A guy "who's a really great ukulele player" and Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion.
"No, no. I can't explain it, but Jack is phenomenal. You're going to love him."
Yup. I went to the last concert I'd ever before have paid money for because my friends invited me.

So why it would never have been on my hot list?

-- The headliner plays a 3-string ukulele.
-- The headliner does not sing... and I'm not big on solely instrumental music.
-- The headliner plays solo ukulele.

Tipping the scale in the other direction, however, was the fact that the headliner also tours with Jimmy Buffet.


Sarah Lee and Johnny opened, and I enjoyed this song, which was the opening number...

... and the last number, which was a lullaby they'd just recently written for their 8 month old child.

Everything else was the kind of self-indulgent, crunchy, granola-eating stuff that leaves me flat.

Worse, Johnny Irion should only be viewed on stage if he's seated. Yes, he has a beautiful voice. Yes, he can play the piano and the guitar and the harmonica. But when he's standing up and playing the guitar, he just has some wierd and distracting moves -- at times looking like he's trying to wrench the music right out of the instrument, and the instrument is fighting him every step of the way.

Once I began closing my eyes and just listening, it was much mo bettah.

Lovely voices. Good entertainers; yet I was still quite happy when they were done.

After the intermission the headliner came out, and the energy of the room changed instantly. On top of that, I went from healthy skeptic into pathetic little fan girl in the blink of an eye.

So who was the headliner?

Jake Shimabukuro.

Remember that name. And run, don't walk, to the nearest box office if you hear he's in town.

The OTSOFM's website describes him thusly:
Jake Shimabukuro defies all musical categories. Playing jazz, blues, funk, classical, bluegrass, folk, flamenco, and rock, Jake’s mission is to show everyone that the ukulele is capable of so much more than only the traditional Hawaiian music many associate it.
That doesn't even come close to describing him or his music. He's a virtuoso. Like Segovia... only more diverse in the music he chooses.

They say the human body is made of 90% water. Not this kid. (Oh, my freakin' God, he's only in his early 20's. I can't begin to imagine what he'll be like in 10 years. Or 20.) Nope. Jake Shimabukuro is equal parts molecules of music and magic. Behold:

A rock star virtuoso ukulele player. Who knew?

After I dragged my jaw back up from my knees, I realized that while I couldn't watch the first guy at all, I couldn't tear my eyes off this kid, who plays with his entire being.

You've GOT to see him, I'm telling you.

And Mike and Doug? Man! A billion kisses in your direction in thanks for such a wonderful gift!

*The OTSOFM's theater is a lovely, very intimate venue. I don't think there's a bad seat in the place, but reserve a table if you can. More leg room, don't you know?


eatmisery said...

I love your template! I'm stopping over via ksquest via Livey. I noticed that Livey hasn't posted anything in quite a while and wondered if she was okay. Do you happen to know if she's okay?

Anonymous said...

Hey Les........cool review.....who'da thunkit?!?!? Big j