8:12 p.m.: We arrive in Buffalo. Jack bought a pass online that lets us park in a clearing under a bridge. A sign bolted to a cement support lists the rates — $75 daily maximum. It’s dark and we’re in a half-awake state from driving on Western New York backroads into fading light. 8:19 p.m.: We walk to the First Niagara Center.
It’s not often you get to hear the world’s foremost ukulele prodigy. That is, of course, unless you’re Jake Shimabukuro, in which case you get to hear yourself every day. At the Hangar Theatre last Friday, ears on both sides of the equation united to witness his artistry firsthand. The Honolulu-born star has singularly redefined the capabilities of this humble four-stringed instrument for new generations of listeners and, as evidenced by the handful of fans waiting to get their ukes signed after the show, players as well. As Shimabukuro himself said at one point between songs, “I bet you’re not having as much fun as we are up here.” To be sure, he gave back two parts passion for each of appreciation lobbed from an audience that was smiling ear to ear.