The custom four-string Kamaka tenor ukulele played by Jake Shimabukuro measures 17 inches from nut to bridge. That's somewhere between the length of a fly swatter and the kind of rolling pin used to make ravioli. Within those 17 short inches, however, Shimabukuro is able to operate with style, precision and sheer virtuosity unmatched by uke players—or even most guitarists—anywhere in the world.
The Honolulu, Hawaii-based ukulele master has wowed crowds from Japan to England and even Boise, to which he will return with a performance Saturday, March 5 at the Egyptian Theatre. Beyond his near-unbelievable skill, Shimabukuro's approach to his instrument (and music) is magnetic—"Maybe there is something over the top about it being an instrument of peace," he told Boise Weekly ahead of a Boise appearance in October 2012. "But it makes people smile."
Damn straight it does, especially in the hands of an artist of unparalleled talent like Shimabukuro.