Interview – Jake Shimabukuro – Pt 1

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Editors Note: Due to a busy week here, we will be replaying our interview series.

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

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?

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View Comments


  1. HaileISela June 22nd, 2009 1:35 am

    Hey Donnie!

    this was sooo awesome! mahalos for that great interview!


  2. Simon June 22nd, 2009 2:52 am

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

  3. Ed June 22nd, 2009 1:37 pm

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

  4. Al June 25th, 2009 12:58 am

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

  5. Howlin' Hobbit October 23rd, 2010 11:45 am

    Whoa! I somehow missed this the first time around. Hopefully part II is tomorrow.

    And you’re right about the rumors. The one time I met Jake he was gracious and sweet. I maintain that it’d be better for folk to spend less time trying to cop his licks and more time trying to emulate his attitude.

    Great job, Donnie!

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