KEENE — Jake Shimabukuro, a ukelele virtuso who made a viral splash with his renditions of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Schubert’s “Ave Maria” and Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” will return to the Colonial Theatre for an 8 p.m. show Saturday.
Shimabukuro took up the ukelele in Hawaii when he was just 4, and his mother, Carol, was his teacher. He would go on to play for millions around the world, including Queen Elizabeth II.
Shimabukuro, who also plays the drums, guitar and piano, became an international phenomenon by 2005, thanks to a YouTube video of him playing “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” a song written by Beatles guitarist George Harrison.
“The ukulele, with its humble four strings and modest two-octave range, is an instrument limited only by the imagination and creativity of the person playing it,” Shimabukuro said in his press bio.
He has topped the Billboard World Music Charts numerous times, and played at prominent venues such as the Hollywood Bowl in California, Lincoln Center in New York City, and the Sydney Opera House in Australia, as well as famed festivals like Bonnaroo, SXSW, the Playboy Jazz Festival, and Fuji Rock Festival.
Shimabukuro has followed 2016’s “Nashville Sessions” with the album “The Greatest Day, which features originals and covers. One song, “Mahalo John Wayne,” is a delicate melody that transforms into a grand-scale cinematic symphony. It’s a tribute to his father’s favorite actor, John Wayne. In fact, Shimabukuro was named after one of the Duke’s characters in the movie “Big Jake,” and he and his father used to watch John Wayne movies together.
“I’m saying thank you to John Wayne for my name in this song,” Shimabukuro said in his bio at jakeshimabukuro.com. “In Hawaiian, ‘mahalo’ means ‘thank you.’”
Tickets to his Keene show are $30 to $44. For details, visit thecolonial.org or call 352-2033.