Kula Jams Benefit in Lihue HAWAII – Donovan Frankenreiter and Jake Shimabukuro

Every trip that I have traveled with Stefan, we have managed to see a good concert somewhere along the way, and coming to Hawaii, I was really hoping to see the ukulele master, Jake Shimabukuro at some point. We had seen him at the Bonnaroo Festival last year and even chatted with him afterwards, so it would be a thrill to be able to see him perform in his home of Hawaii. But after check through his tour schedule, the two shows scheduled seem to be clashing with our own schedules. Nonetheless, I bought myself a hawaiian ukulele and started to learn songs on my own.

After 2 weeks of living in the island of Kauai’i we were driving back home from the beach one night and I noticed a sign promoting a show called Kula Jams and I thought I saw the name Donovan Frankenreiter. We turn around to see the sign again and find out that the Kula Jams features Donovan Frankenreiter and Jake Shimibukuro on the day that we had planned to leave the island. Perfect. We bought tickets the next day, and then booked our flight out for that night following the show.

On the day of the show we arrived early to the Theatre of Performing Arts at the Kauai Community College. The show benefits Kula Elementary school, the school which Donovan Frankenreiter’s kids attend. Outside of the theatre I spot Jake hanging out, drinking a juice and sipping on an organic soup, but we don’t bother him. When the doors open, we enter and check out the silent auctions being held. There is a signed ukulele by Jake, 2 signed guitars by Donovan, and a signed surfboard by both.

Jake Shimabukuro

We claim our seats in the middle of this lovely theatre, holding less than 500 people, and wait for the show to begin. The kids open up the show signing a hawaiian song. Then Jake comes out puts on a memorable performance. He just wails on the ukulele. This is his version of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” by the Beatles.

After his performance, we head back out to the silent auction, where the ukulele is getting high bids, but the guitars and surfboard are very reasonable in price. The surfboard would be hard to carry home, but the guitar appeals to Stefan, so he makes a bid. Back from the intermission, the MC announces the winners of the auctions, by calling out Stefan’s name for the Donovan signed guitar. This leads into a fun performance by Donovan Frankenreiter, who brings out the kids, and some friends for various songs, including Jake on the final 2 song.

Jake Shimabukuro

After the show, while waiting to collect Stefan’s guitar, we walked down to the stage to say hi to Jake, and he recognized us from Bonnaroo. He thanked us for coming out and giving our support and then he signed my ukulele.

Jake Shimabukuro

The show was outstanding and then we left for the airport immediately to catch the last flight into Honolulu, where the night only continued to get more interesting. It was Andrews birthday, so it involved Mai Thai’s on the flight, lots of draft Sierra Nevadas, expensive Patron tequila, and a girl named Jasmin!


Jason is the author of the book This All Encompassing Trip and loves to travel to see Pearl Jam. He spends his time doing design and video work as well as running a daddy blog called The Rockstar Dad.

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