Living in the Pacific Rim city of Oakland, California, last year, we got immersed in an entirely different culture. For example, ukuleles are not exotic in the San Francisco Bay area — there are plenty of Pacific Islanders in the area, and lots of Asian Americans have picked up the instrument as well. There is a ukulele orchestra in Oakland. There was a fellow in the UU church I served out there who made his own ukuleles. Ukuleles are normal.
Here in the Midwest, the ukulele is mostly an oddity, a toy you give to kids. Which means Jake Shimabukuro is not exactly a household name around here. If he were white, or black, and played an electric guitar, we would have heard about him. But he’s Japanese American from Hawai’i, and he plays ukulele.
Midwestern culture is wonderful, but cross the boundary into Pacific Rim culture for a moment, and go check out Jake’s version of While My Guitar Gently Weeps. He’s incredible.