Jake Shimabukuro: Setting the Stage

Mexicali Live

Looking at the Excel spreadsheet I use to track such things, I’ve requested 16 photo passes this year.  I’ve been granted three so far, with a couple still up in the air. One’s coming up this weekend, but I won’t know if I’m good to go until Thursday or Friday.  Another is in the beginning of August, which they told me would be available, but asked me to write back closer to the show.  Oh, and a third promoter told me that the venue has an open camera policy, so I don’t need a pass.  I guess that’s as good as an acceptance.

But, as of today, I’ve been rejected ten times, and accepted three.  That’s a good batting average, particularly for someone new to the game.  We arrive this week at show #3, then, for ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro. He is an internet sensation, whose “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” video shot him to “internet fame,” and whose follow-up “Bohemian Rhapsody” TED Talk proved he was no one trick pony.

A month ago, I wrote his p.r. people — conveniently listed on his website — and made my request.  On the day of the show, I got word that I was good to go.

The day before, I finally thought to look up his opening act, Ilo Ferreira.  He’s an interesting guy.  He’s a guitarist from Africa who was doing local clubs and bars, when Jimmy Buffet walks in for a drink during a stopover and discovers him.  Next thing you know, Ferreira is playing with Buffet on stage in America and is now on a short tour with Shimabukuro in the Northeast.

The venue was new to me — the Mexicali Live.  In Teaneck, NJ, it’s a live music venue that serves mostly Mexican food during the shows.  There’s a dining room, a bar, and some standing room for patrons.  Most people get there well before the show, have dinner, and stick around for the show.  The ratio between standing room and dinner table seating changes from show to show depending on the audience.  The louder rock bands that skew younger might have more standing room and fewer tables, for example.  At this concert, the floor was packed with tables, 95% of patrons having dinner and a show.  The bar was packed in the back of the hall, and a few stragglers lined the walls to either side where they could.

The place was sold out.

There was room off to one side of the stage when you first walked in, but I chose a spot opposite the far wall which had a good angle on the stage, or so I thought.  From there, I shot the entire opening act.  Here’s the teaser.  More tomorrow.

Iio Ferreira

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