"If everyone owned a ukulele or a surfboard, the world would be a better place." This is what ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro told a full house at Oceanside's Grace Theater on Saturday, before he proceeded to blow everyone away with a concert that can only be called "awe-inspiring."
In California to help raise funds for ocean-awareness non-profits like the California Surf Museum, Surfing Heritage Foundation and the Rell Sunn Foundation, Shimabukuro played a three-day series of concerts in Santa Cruz, Laguna Beach and Oceanside. At 33, Shimabukuro is a true master of his instrument, collaborating with musical titans such as Yo Yo Ma, Jimmy Buffet, Bela Fleck and Ziggy Marley over the past few years. But he hasn't forgotten his roots, which is why the Honolulu native never hesitates to give back to the surf world. "Surfing isn't just about good waves or a good board, it's about becoming a better person," he said. "It promotes a better understanding of the world."
Not surprisingly, two of surfing's more worldly figures, Rob Machado and Donavon Frankenreiter, joined in for a couple of jams in Laguna and Oceanside. In Oceanside, after Shimabukuro plucked out everything from a rendition of "Thriller" to an ancient Japanese "koto" song at warp speed, Machado admitted he was "nervous." He even forgot the words to his own song on his first go-'round, but pulled it off with style in typical Machado fashion.
At the end of the long weekend, Jake and friends helped raise more than $25,000 for five different non-profits, proving that ukuleles and surfboards do make the world a better place.
[Special thanks to Keiko Beatie for making the events happen.]