There are ups and downs to marrying a white man. Some of the ups? I never have to share my tofu with him. And if we ever have a son, he'll at least have a shot at being taller than 5'3 ( if he's really lucky...he might even grow leg hair). One of the downsides though? They look like they accidentally wandered into your nice Japanese family photo.
I'm kidding- I actually get quite a kick out of this. In fact, every time we take a photo together and he's the only white person in it- I smile and hum that Sesame Street song through my teeth"Which of these things is not like the other? Which of things just doesn't belong?" (Side note: He thought this was pretty funny the first year of our marriage, but he hasn't laughed about it quite as much over the last 9 years).
Anyway, in this particular photo taken last weekend, we're at a Jake Shimabukuro concert (he's the one in green). If you haven't yet heard of Jake, allow me to be the first to introduce you. Jake is probably the greatest ukulele player the world will ever know- past, present or future. He toured/opened for Jimmy Buffet last year, has been featured on shows like Carson Daly and Conan O'Brian, and has been compared by music critics to Jimi Hendrix for his lightning quick playing abilities. He's touring the US & Japan on a sold out tour thus far, but because our friend Lana is an old pal of his, we were able to get comped tickets/backstage passes (the only ones!) to his sold out concert in Orange County last week.
To be honest, I initially went to the concert because I knew we were going to eat Hawaiian food beforehand, and also because I thought it'd be nice to hear some really nice melodic Hawaiian music. I had NO IDEA what I was in for. For starters, even though Jake is very well known in Hawaii and Japan, he's not quite as well known in the U.S. mainland yet (or so we thought). We tried to buy tickets a few nights before the show, but it had been sold out a week in advance. (Thankfully, since our friend Lana has known him since high school, he was kind enough to get us all tickets and backstage passes.)
In any case, ALL of the people sitting around us (WASPie middle-aged Orange County yuppies) were like little schoolgirls at a Backstreet Boys concert- many were clutching his cds, excitedly raving about how he had outplayed Jimmy Buffet last year, and how they had driven for hours to come and see him (I suggested throwing their boxers up on stage to try and get his attention, but there were no takers...then again OC'ers are known for being kinda stiff.)
Once Jake started playing- I got it. The man is a musical genius. A prodigy. I'm not emotive, artistic or musical. But his music and his beautiful, humble spirit completely, unexpectedly captivated me. I was alternately in either awe or near tears the entire night. Words, and most especially mine- simply will not do his music any justice.
I do want to say though, that you should not expect your traditional/contemporary Hawaiian music... Jake doesn't sing, and he doesn't play amidst hula dancers and tiki torches. He plays jazz, the blues, classical, rock, funk, traditional Japanese and of course, Hawaiian music. And though many would argue that he truly shines when electrifying the ukulele with his trademark lightning fast strokes, I say it's when he's most emotive (Gently Weeps, Ave Maria).
So if you have a chance, do whatever you can to download/listen/buy his "Gently Weeps" album. It will captivate you.
(If you're at all interested, a growing group of us are planning on heading out to see him on his final tour date in October of this year out in Joshua Tree. Click here for tour information.)