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KPBS Midday Edition

Ukulele virtuoso strings together new star-studded album

Nichole Peters
Musician Jake Shimabukuro posed with an ukulele in this undated photo.

Musician and composer Jake Shimabukuro has released another album centered around his instrument of choice: the humble ukulele.

This time, however, he's joined by some of the biggest names in pop, reggae and country music.

"Jake and Friends" is a collaboration between the virtuoso ukulele talent and superstar musicians, including Willie Nelson, Bette Midler, Billy Strings and others.


The album also marks a return to in-person studio collaboration with other musicians, something that was hindered during the pandemic.

Shimabukuro, who is back on tour, said returning to live performance after pandemic-era lockdowns is one of his greatest joys as a musician.

"To play in front of a live audience, there's nothing like it," Shimabukuro said. "That connection, that energy, and at the end of the concert where everyone's feeling so good and you see people smiling walking out of the theater — it's such a beautiful feeling."

Shimabukuro, who will perform at the Balboa Theater on Wednesday, Nov. 30 at 7:30 p.m., joined Midday Edition on Wednesday with more on his new album.