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Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings (2013)

 NR |  DVD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)

List Price: $24.99
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Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings + Grand Ukulele + LIVE: Jake Shimabukuro
Price for all three: $39.36

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  • Grand Ukulele $11.23
  • LIVE: Jake Shimabukuro $13.98

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Product Details

  • Format: Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Pbs (Direct)
  • DVD Release Date: July 2, 2013
  • Run Time: 60 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00C888OQ4
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #81,847 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings tells the heartfelt story of a musical sensation whose virtuoso skills on the ukelele have transformed all previous notions of the instrument's potential as he touches the lives of the young and old who inspire his brilliance. On the road from Los Angeles to New York to Japan, the film captures the solitary life on tour: the exhilaration of performance, the wonder of newfound fame, and the loneliness of separation from home and family

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Playing Film Festivals now- On DVD in July 2013 April 15, 2013
Format:DVD
I saw this film yesterday at the WXPN Music Film Festival in Philadelphia (coordinated by the Philadelphia Film Society). It is making the round of film festivals now and is due on DVD in July 2013.
I've followed ukulele prodigy Jake Shimabukuro's career of 11 years now (from his early albums with a band). Now he goes it alone and can hold an audience of 3,000 or more for two hours with just his "jumping flea" (English translation of the word "ukulele). Watching this 58-minute film, made in 2011 and released in 2012, I still learned new things about Jake. We get to see his mother and brother as well as his new wife and his now-former manager, Kaz Flanagan. He's a father now but his son was born after the film was completed. Luckily Jake was filmed throughout his long career (he's only in his early 30s but started playing at age four.) and a lot of that footage was used by the filmmakers.

If you know Jake and his music you'll really enjoy this film (I loved it!) and if you've only heard his name - or maybe are one of the THREE MILLION people who have seen the YouTube video of him in Central Park playing "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", then - after watching this film, you'll probably run out and buy Jake's CDs. And then tell your friends about it.

I'm hoping there were be bonus performances when the DVD is released (and I'll update my review then) but , for now, catch it on the big screen if you have the opportunity.

UPDATE (6/21/13): I've now seen the DVD and, sadly, there are no bonus features (even outtakes) included. I'm still giving the DVD five stars but sure wish they included full performances so you could watch on your TV in HD or at least big screen.

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic"
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
Jake Shimabukuro is not a "ukulele player" -- he's a world-renowned musical virtuoso who blows away anyone who hears his music. He is in the same pantheon as Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Bela Fleck, and even great classical musicians such as Yo-Yo Ma and Hilary Hahn. Jake, more than any musician I know of, transcends his instrument and creates pure music, touching the souls of his listeners.

A well-kept (though award-winning) Hawaiian and Japanese secret until 2006, Jake burst upon the world stage when someone posted the now-famous video of him playing "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" on YouTube. The video instantly went viral, and Jake became a international star, receiving concert requests from around the world, and playing with and opening for such stars as Jimmy Buffett, Bela Fleck, Ziggy Marley, and Bette Midler, and being produced by Alan Parsons.

All while retaining his youthful humility and disarming openness and lack of pretense. This movie is a lovely look into his life, both for Jake fans, and for those who have never heard of him. The film is by turns fascinating, jaw-dropping, inspiring, funny, touching, and moving. It's a well-rounded and expertly done piece of cinema by a very experienced Japanese-American documentarian, who strives to bring the human touch to his work. The film should appeal to anyone, regardless of age, nationality, or musical interest (or lack thereof). Jake's life alone is fascinating, never mind his brilliant music (which we are given glorious exposure to).

Jake has a special connection with Japan, both through his heritage and because his longtime manager is from Japan. Thus, he's an even bigger star in Japan than in the U.S. Hopefully, this wonderful film will open the eyes of further music lovers in the U.S.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great musical talent, beautiful documentary May 12, 2013
Format:DVD
I saw the film on PBS this afternoon and was moved, enriched and entertained by it. I was familiar with Jake's music and have appreciated the way he can get wonderful feeling out of what others might consider a very limited instrument. He can create exquisite lyrical statements....his version of George Harrison's While My Guitar Gently Weeps is justly famous.....join the millions who've seen the YouTube version shot in New York's Central Park. In this documentary we learn about the Hawaii and family environment he emerged from, his special relationship with a Japanese woman who is his business manager and his romance and ultimate marriage to his wife. Extremely moving is Jake's visit to his business manager's home city in Japan which was devastated by the tsunami.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
I too saw this on PBS - I have no idea if it was the full version, but it was absolutely spectacular. To know that Jake learned to play the ukulele because it was a way to feel close to his musically talented single mom, who he couldn't spend much time with because she was a bar singer and working long hours and late nights to provide a home for Jake and his little brother ... well that gave me a greater understanding of his need to excel on this instrument. To see Jake share his instrument with pre-school children, teenagers, and then again with seniors in assisted living was really special. He was able to connect with them all on a very intimate level. And then on to play at some of the best musical venues in the world. His ability to connect on an emotional level with all ages and different musical genres is truly amazing.

I'm not going to write too much about Jake's incredible talent, because it's all been said before. However, to realize that he has achieved this level of competence at such a young age is quite remarkable. Although not without an incredible amount of practice! (Note to self: practice more often). I think he is an excellent example for young people of how you can achieve something through perseverence and not necessarily through spending thousands of dollars on private lessons or expensive equipment.

And yes, this film was definitely all the more moving when he returned to Japan with his manager to visit what used to be her home town which was devastated by the earthquake/tsunami.

I'm hoping the DVD has some extras on it!

Absolutely not to be missed.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Love this guy.
Saw Jake in Maui in 2004 when we happened onto a ukelele festival at a park near the airport and I've been a fan ever since. Read more
Published 1 day ago by TCB
5.0 out of 5 stars Watch this and enjoy his music a lot more than before
For those who think of the ukelele as mere a toy guitar, watch it.
For those who already enjoy listening to the ukelele music, watch it (if you haven't). Read more
Published 4 days ago by Jason Bond
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth watching - Loved it!
I had no idea a ukele had such a range of sounds. No one but a virtuoso could do this.

And I loved Jake's story. Read more
Published 6 days ago by Gayle Evers
5.0 out of 5 stars AMAZING!!!!!!
Oh my he is so awesome!!! He takes the ukulele to another level. If you love music PLEASE PLEASE!!!! watch this.
Published 7 days ago by edickinsongurl2
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and touching!
Interesting hearing about how he got to where he is! His music is so powerful, even when it is slow and simple, it can stir you up inside. Such a talented musician!
Published 9 days ago by Lisa Clifford
5.0 out of 5 stars Music Lover
I totally enjoy music and this his story to include such truth of his personal life is admired. he is a great musician., and person. I do recommend it.
Published 13 days ago by njoyinglife
5.0 out of 5 stars A True Virtuoso
Truly inspirational and a wonderful ambassador for music and the ukelele in particular. He is a true virtuoso and has to be heard to be believed. Read more
Published 17 days ago by Gary Turnbull
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow
You really get a sense of what Jake is all about. Incredible. So humble and interesting. I wonder what he'll do next
Published 18 days ago by Brice E Norton
3.0 out of 5 stars Ukelele is alright
Not as good as I hoped, but OK. The story about Jake is interesting, but wanted more music. Mostly watched because I made a uke, and make guitars. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Gerald
5.0 out of 5 stars Ukulele Magic
2013NR: You don't know what a ukulele is until you've seen this dude play -- an instrument most people couldn't name if they're life depended on it! Read more
Published 1 month ago by MFJLabs
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