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By Kayla Pinnix
CCC Journalism Program

BLACKWOOD – This past Sunday Jake Shimabukuro, a touring solo ukulele player, transformed the Dennis Flyer Theater at Camden County College into a Hawaiian ukulele paradise.

Shimabukuro is the world’s greatest ukulele player alive, said Ed Fiscella, founder of Mainstage Center for the Arts, who hosted this event. Fiscella, who is learning the ukulele, wanted to see Shimabukuro play live and invited Shimabukuro to perform in the theater. Many people must agree because it was a packed house for his performance. The crowd was mostly made up of older couples and a large number of Hawaiians. The show started at 7:30 p.m. and tickets sold for $35 a person to listen to Shimabukuro play live on Sunday evening. He even received a standing ovation.

Shimabukuro’s set list included both original pieces and covers of well-known songs. His original pieces were ukulele versions of various genres of music making sure there was a song for everyone. He played everything from relaxing music to rock songs to country. He even played a song called “Ukelele 5 0” that he wrote for the popular television show called “Hawaii 5 0.”

Before performing his covers Shimabukuro said, “Covering a song is like putting on your favorite basketball player’s jersey.” He put on each artist’s jersey while performing their songs. His interpretations included Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep,” Queen’s “Bohemiam Rhapsody,” the Beatles’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and the “Glee” version of “Don’t Stop Believing.”

Following Jake’s performance, he did an hour meet and greet with his fans to sign autographs. Many people brought along their own ukuleles for him to sign. There was also a surprise open mic night for all the ukulele players to showcase their own talents. Those working the event wore Hawaiian-themed leis to add to the tropical atmosphere. They sold refreshments and Shimabukuro merchandise.

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