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Jake Shimabukuro – King of the Ukulele

Jake Shimabukuro LIVE CD CoverI never expected to become a fan of the ukulele.

My only encounter with one involved Stargirl, the eccentric highschooler from the Jerry Spinelli book, who would bring her ukulele to school and sing and play “Happy Birthday” to the other kids during lunch.

So when Jake Shimabukuro’s live album showed up in the mail, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

But clearly I’ve been missing out. Shimabukuro made a name for himself long before this album, with well-known Hawaiian groups Pure Heart and Colon. He’s been the musical guest for Carson Daly and Conan O’Brien (more than once). And this live album now marks the seventh addition to an impressive list of solo releases.

These aren’t the kind of songs you can recognize right off the bat (with the exception of his “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and tragically timely “Thriller” covers, both of which are amazingly well-performed), but Shimabukuro makes each song amiable and catchy with his masterful flare.

This album is difficult to describe. The ukulele has a lighter, tinnier sound than a guitar. It resonates like a steel dream, but Shimabukuro keeps his songs from becoming generic island jams.  And you would never guess that a ukulele has a more limited range (with four strings instead of six) from the way he plays it.

A listener’s interest will be piqued before opener “Trapped” comes to a close. Shuimabukuro’s skill is evident within the first minute – this man is something special.

“Piano-Forte” immediately offers a different sound from the ukulele. This number is a slower, light jam that throws a sound quality that is just, well, prettier than any instrumental guitar number I’ve ever heard. Though “Back Two-Part Invention No. 4 in D Minor” keeps this similar, lighter sound, it’s a completely different style of song with a series of racing riffs.

Which is indicative of this whole album. Shimabukuro brings a versatility with his songs that is amazing not only on his instrument, but for a performer in general.  The sound and pace of his songs are never replicated within his set.

“Here’s one about being a kid and drinking one too many Shirley Temples” laughs Shimabukuro as he kicks off “Me & Shirley T.” This track has a youthful swagger all its own. The chords have a John Mayer, Eric Hutchinsonesque kind of quality, but Shimabukuro takes the genre and makes it his.

“Five dollars Unleaded” is a slower, softer number, but that underlying buoyancy of the instrument is never lost.  Even when the second half of the song takes a somber turn, the sound still resonates in a in a way that a guitar just can’t. What Shimabukuro can do with a ukulele is astounding.

“Wes on Four” has Shimabukuro’s fingers flailing as he sails up and down the neck of the ukulele. If you close your eyes you can see the frenzy of his hands.

“Sakura Sakura” kicks up the Asian feel of his sound with slow, lilting riffs. “Dragon” keeps the smoother feel with sporadic, intricate runs,  which followed by the racing, melodic “Yeah.”

Shimabukuro pulls out all the stops on “3rd Stream.” Just when you think the songs couldn’t get any faster, this track kicks up the fevered pitch to an entirely new level.  I’ve never been able to handle this kind of racing music without feeling frantic, but Shimabukuro has his instrument totally under control. Riffs that have the potential to be nail-biting become wildly enjoyable.

Encore “Blue Roses Falling (Hanahou)” takes the ukulele back to the light, touching sound of “Piano-Forte.” A strong contrast to the closer, but no less appreciated. No matter how that ukulele sounds, Shimabukuro makes it work.

Like I said, this is a difficult album to describe, and an even more difficult to do justice. It’s the kind of album that works in car, during a Saturday morning cleaning frenzy or for some napping tunes.

If you have any interest in instrumental albums or are just looking for some summer jams, try out Jake Shimabukuro. You won’t be disappointed.

Liz Wagner

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Jobless in Philly Nocturne No. II

jobsearchnewspaperThe New Jersey Collegiate Career Day is being held May 28  at Rutgers University. The event will run from 9:30a.m.-3:30p.m. in the Brower Commons and Rutgers Student Center.

Sponsored by the school’s career services, the career day is touted as “the largest college job fair in the state” on the event’s Web site. The event will host 150 employers offering full-time jobs and internships in liberal arts, business, science and technical fields. Sorry education and communication majors, you’re out of luck on this one.

Attendees are encouraged to dress as you would for an interview and brings plenty of portfolio samples and resumes, as well as pens to sign up for employer mailing lists. An additional hint: shut off your cell phone while you’re walking through the stands and speaking with employers. Your potential future boss doesn’t want to be interrupted by a phone call during the first meeting.

Hey, it’s worth a shot. For more details check out Rutgers’s career services Web site at http://careerservices.rutgers.edu/.

Or, you know, you could try out to be a Ringling Bros. clown here.

Happy hunting.

 

 

Liz Wagner

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Jobless in Philly?

Never fear. We’ve been perusing Craigslist and snooping around Philly job listings, and we found a couple for starving college students.

Living near campus? – Athletics is looking for workers for its phone-a-thon. Check out the listing on the portal for details, or contact Phil Telan at teanp1@lasalle.edu for more info.

If you aren’t on campus, keep your chin up. There are still plenty of job opportunities out there.

Be a babysitter!Some of you out there may like taking care of drooling tykes. Here you go:
http://philadelphia.craigslist.org/search/jjj?query=College+Babysitter

Or a camp counselor – Less drool, more teaching and playing sports. Though most of these are only for a few weeks at a shot, it’s a solid way to earn some summer cash.
http://philadelphia.craigslist.org/search/jjj?query=College%20camp

Nonprofits your thing? – Like saving the environment and talking to strangers? Though these are generally canvassing jobs, kind where you have to walk around with a clipboard and coerce people into giving you money, they are for good causes and offer monetary compensation. Commission jobs may be daunting, but at least you’ll be out of the house and (potentially) getting paid.
http://philadelphia.craigslist.org/search/jjj?query=College+&addFive=non-profit

Food Services – Whether is be as a server, baker or bartender, tons of restaurants and diners are looking for summer help. Though some require specific work experience, if you sift through these you will find plenty you could try out.
http://philadelphia.craigslist.org/fbh/

Like to Write? – These job offers seem a little sketchy, but some may be worth checking out. A lot are unpaid, but scattered about are some freelance jobs for kids in the area. http://philadelphia.craigslist.org/search/wri?query=freelance

But beware! Some of these marketing jobs you can find on job Web sites are those miserable pyramid scams or other underhanded businesses (see Pure Marketing, 3W, Titan Marketing, etc.). Do some research before you sign on. The following Web site offers a list of underhanded business schemes and testimonials from employees who got out. http://www.ripoffreport.com/

Good hunting, all.

Liz Wagner

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Eric Hutchinson Live EP Sounds Like Jason Mraz 2.0

EHutch - STL liveWhen I pulled the Eric Hutchinson  Sounds Like This Live album out of the mailbox a few weeks ago, I knew his name sounded familar.

So did the second song on the album, “Oh!”

Turns out Hutchinson has been around for awhile. Since 2003, technically, but he hadn’t hit the limelight until this past fall, when his song “Rock & Roll” got play in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 and VH1 featured him on its “Musicians You Outta Know.” He plays  piano/acoustic folk pop that college kids adore. The younger, fresher Jason Mraz.

The Sounds Like This Live CD in the mailbox is a five-track EP of live versions of tracks from his most recent full-length Sounds Like This. Though this itself may be a cop out, the EP has the appeal of any band’s live album. The songs are less contrived, simpler and usually contain the always enjoyable clap along (see “You’ve Got You”). The sound has the raw acoustic strum and genuine inconsistencies in Hutchinson’s voice that makes music worth listening to and enjoying in the first place.

“Oh!” is the most noteworthy track on the album, with Hutchinson’s simple song structure driven by the (surprsise) ohhhing chorus  that he gets the audience to sing along with.  It’s easy on the ears, a neat, inoffensive little track. “You’ve Got You” is an acceptable second, a  punchy piano jam about pointing the blame.

Hutchinson’s not breaking the bank for creativity here, and I mean that about his music in general. The live EP, if anything, is probably more fun to listen to than the actual Sounds Like This album. He’s filling the gap where Mraz, Dispatch, and all those acoustic-driven folksy pop dudes left off for all the graduating high school seniors and college kids looking for a summer album.

If you need a CD for the drive to the beach with a bunch of friends with varying music tastes, snag a copy of Sounds Like This Live. It’s tolerable no matter what sort of music you like. But as far as a longterm musican, Hutchinson made need to change up if he wants to remain a recognizable name.

Liz Wagner

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Summer Sun, Fun and Blog Posts

Hey guys. So we know we’ve lapsed with our posts this semester, but we want to make it up to you.

This summer we are getting back on the wagon. Stay tuned for news from every corner of your favorite city.

All the best with finals. See you soon.

philly

Liz Wagner

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Vice President Position Added

According to an internal memo from President Brother Michael McGinniss, Dean Joseph Cicala’s open position as dean of students will be expanded to include the position of vice president for student Affairs.

The vice president for student affairs and dean of students will report directly to the McGinniss, as opposed to the previous dean position, which reported to Provost Richard Nigro. In the memo McGinniss wrote that, after considering the univeristy’s new strategic plan (entitled The Will To Excel), and the more prominent role the Division of Student Affairs will need to take because of this new plan,  “I have determined that the expectations for this area require a vice-presidential position.”

The search committee for this position, chaired by Brother Bob Kinzler, has been confirmed. Members of the committee include the Dean of the School of Business Paul Brazina, Director of Security and Safety Art Grover, Execute Director of Undergraduate Admissions Jim Plunkett  and current SGA President Andrew Fox.

–Liz Wagner

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Students Tour Inky

inky-picture

Last Friday Professor Huntly Collins and Communication Department Chair Lynne Texter took two Fundamentals of Journalism classes to the offices of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The handful of students that attended were given a tour by Professor Collins’ friend and Inquirer obituary writer Sally Downey. After the tour, students were given the opportunity to sit in on the head editor’s morning meaning to discuss what would run on the front page of the weekend editions of the paper.

After sitting in on the meeting, the students were given the opportunity to speak with editor and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Bill Marimow. He answered several students’ questions before having to return to work.

The trip was thoroughly enjoyed by the students, and will be remembered for a long time to come.

Nikki Hopkins

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