Written by Cheryl Fallstead
Las Cruces ukulele players and lovers of amazing music performed on the diminutive fourstringed Hawaiian instrument are counting the days until July 4. Why? Because legendary ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro is opening the annual Fourth of July celebration concert in Las Cruces!
Jake came to the world’s attention when a 2005 YouTube video of him performing George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” in New York’s Central Park went viral. In the 14 years since, he has become known worldwide and is especially popular in the U.S. and Japan. His records have topped the Billboard World Music Charts and he has played some of the most prestigious venues worldwide. Fans have long wondered how to attract him to our area. Now you’ll be able to catch him live…for free! Kelle Hoskins, one of the founding members of the Las Cruces Ukes, traveled to Arizona to see Jake perform about five years ago and says, “Jake Shimabukuro is one of the most amazing performers I have ever seen — on any instrument.
I’m so excited to get to see him again, right here in Las Cruces!” If you’re expecting “Tiptoe Through the Tulips,” or even Iz’s rendition of “Over the Rainbow,” you’ll be at the wrong concert. Although “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” remains one of his most popular tunes, you can expect anything from an instrumental version of the Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby” to one of his original compositions, such as “Pangram.” His website describes “Pangram” this way, “Titled after a sentence that uses all the letters in the alphabet (like ‘The quick brown fox jumps over a lazy dog’), it’s based on a chromatic scale that utilizes all the notes in the Western music scale. But even nonmusicologists will ride happily along its rivers of cascading melodies and its pumping, rock-soul rhythms.” Jake is an instrumentalist, not a crooner, so be ready for a talented performer who uses every fret on the ukulele, has amazing dexterity and speed, and whose love of performing really shines. But who’s the headliner, you ask? Don’t leave after Jake’s performance, because you’ll be treated to ‘80s arena rock group Night Ranger. Night Ranger has sold more than 17 million albums sold worldwide and performed over 3,500 live concerts. The group earned widespread acclaim, including multiplatinum and gold album status, with a string of best-selling albums (Dawn Patrol, Midnight Madness, 7 Wishes, Big Life and Man In Motion). You may recognize some of their most popular songs such as “Sister Christian,” “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me,” “When You Close Your Eyes,” and “(You Can Still) Rock In America.”