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Oklahoma Gazette

Oklahoma Gazette Oklahoma's fiercely local arts & entertainment authority. Publishing every other Wednesday.

Operating as usual

Rainbow Kitten Surprise bring their popular breed of indie rock to The Criterion Dec. 12.
12/08/2022
Surprise landing

Rainbow Kitten Surprise bring their popular breed of indie rock to The Criterion Dec. 12.

With a Starbucks or a Scooter’s on every corner these days, coffee culture is characterized by the on-the-go mentality, ...
12/06/2022
Community centers

With a Starbucks or a Scooter’s on every corner these days, coffee culture is characterized by the on-the-go mentality, but the local coffee shop is the closest thing to an indoor public space apart from a library (there’s a reason so many roasters are paired with bookstores, after all).

If you’re looking for a place to get some remote work done, study, read a book and generally just be in the company of your fellow human beings, there’s no substitute for the scent and flavor of freshly-brewed beans and Oklahoma City has no shortage of shops with their own distinctive character.

Here are some snapshots of just a few of the wonderful coffee shops that grace Oklahoma City.

Ready for 12 Days of Beermas?! We’re giving away TWO 12-day Oklahoma Craft Beer Advent Calendars from ! These awesome ad...
12/05/2022

Ready for 12 Days of Beermas?! We’re giving away TWO 12-day Oklahoma Craft Beer Advent Calendars from ! These awesome advent calendars feature 12 days of 12oz beer from around Oklahoma. A $75 value! To enter to win, tag two friends and tell us what you would name your own seasonal holiday brew!

Two winners will be announced Friday, Dec 9. Winners can pick up their prize Dec 16 at Stonecloud Brewing during the Hoppin Holiday Party. Bring the family out to enjoy the event and snag free pictures with Santa!

There’s a new holiday tradition in Oklahoma City.3rd Act Theatre Company’s bi-annual tour, Drunk Classics, combines Shak...
12/05/2022
Something jolly this way comes

There’s a new holiday tradition in Oklahoma City.

3rd Act Theatre Company’s bi-annual tour, Drunk Classics, combines Shakespeare, improv, and alcohol for an entertaining evening at local watering holes. This season’s Christmas offering is A Very Merry Macbeth.

A Very Merry Macbeth is at its core the traditional story of Macbeth, and will be presented, to start, as a typical Shakespearean play. But prior to the start of the show, audience members receive one vote with admission to select the “drinker” for the night. Whichever cast member wins actively drinks while performing. This would seemingly be enough to throw off the entire performance, but there’s more drunken merriment around the corner.

3rd Act Theatre Company makes merriment with Drunk Classics: A Very Merry Macbeth

When Brittani Hunter started a campus coffee cart at Oklahoma State University in 2015, she didn't know it would plant a...
12/02/2022
Progressive perk

When Brittani Hunter started a campus coffee cart at Oklahoma State University in 2015, she didn't know it would plant a seed that would blossom into one of Oklahoma City's most community-focused establishments a half decade later. At the time, it was simply a project for a business course toward her marketing degree. Today, however, she owns and operates Spiked. A Coffee Concept, a chic Northeast OKC coffee shop located in the same 23rd Street shopping structure that houses Eastside Pizza House and Kindred Spirits.

Built on local values and entrepreneurial savvy, Spiked. A Coffee Concept is a boozy coffeehouse that opens doors to community action.

As we oscillate between temperate and frigid, Oklahoma Gazette puts a focus on local spots to drop in and get a hot cup....
11/30/2022

As we oscillate between temperate and frigid, Oklahoma Gazette puts a focus on local spots to drop in and get a hot cup. Find your new favorite coffee shop in the latest issue or at OKGazette.com.

Downtown Edmond is gearing up for its first ever winter art walk Dec. 1.
11/29/2022
Holiday VIBES

Downtown Edmond is gearing up for its first ever winter art walk Dec. 1.

Downtown Edmond gears up for its first ever winter art walk Dec. 1.

This Gelato Cake will make the perfect sidekick for all those ‘safety meetings’ you might need to take while getting thr...
11/28/2022
Strain Review: Gelato Cake

This Gelato Cake will make the perfect sidekick for all those ‘safety meetings’ you might need to take while getting through the fanfare of the holidays.

Strain name: Gelato Cake Grown by: D-Luxe Farms Acquired from: D-Luxe Dispensary (Classen) Date acquired: Nov. 9 Physical traits: frosted light green and orange Bouquet:...

Time is running out - don't miss your chance to vote for your favorites in the Best Of OKC!
11/28/2022
Best of OKC 2022: Runoff

Time is running out - don't miss your chance to vote for your favorites in the Best Of OKC!

Oklahoma City’s original and longest-running readers’ poll, Best of

After experiencing homelessness, Rob Watkins found a way to connect those still struggling with the resources they need ...
11/28/2022
Citizen Spotlight: Rob Watkins

After experiencing homelessness, Rob Watkins found a way to connect those still struggling with the resources they need to survive life on the streets.

Cannabis competitions have come and gone, but The Cowboy Cup gains horsepower each year.Before medical cannabis was lega...
11/27/2022
Buckle up

Cannabis competitions have come and gone, but The Cowboy Cup gains horsepower each year.

Before medical cannabis was legal here, Daniel Lewis had a vision for a competition in his home state. He traveled the country to see how other medical and recreational states handled their festivals and competitions, handpicking some best practices and trimming things he didn’t think he would fit in the Sooner State.

The fourth Cowboy Cup takes over the Tumbleweed Dance Hall in Stillwater for its largest iteration yet on Dec. 2 and 3.

In the ranking of sweet breakfast dishes, French toast is always a winner. While syrup-soaked pancakes and waffles are g...
11/26/2022
Gazedibles: French Toast

In the ranking of sweet breakfast dishes, French toast is always a winner. While syrup-soaked pancakes and waffles are great, a really good French toast knocks the rest out of the park. With National French Toast Day coming Nov. 28, it’s worth paying tribute to this brunch classic, so let your sweet tooth do the talking and check out the French toast at these seven spots.

With National French Toast Day coming Nov. 28, it’s worth paying tribute to this brunch classic, so let your sweet tooth do the talking and check out the French toast at these seven spots.

You may not be too familiar with Adam Hood just yet, but these days, a lot of movers and shakers in Nashville have come ...
11/25/2022
Hood makes good

You may not be too familiar with Adam Hood just yet, but these days, a lot of movers and shakers in Nashville have come to know him well.

He started performing live shows at just 16 years of age in his hometown of Opelika, Ala., and hasn’t stopped writing, touring and recording music. For two decades, among fans of independent Texas and Oklahoma Red Dirt and the larger Americana and outlaw country scenes, Hood has built up his fan base and earned the respect of both fans and peers.

He performs Dec. 10 at Belle Isle Brewing Co. with Jason Eady.

The influential songwriter plays Belle Isle Brewing Co. Dec. 10.

In this reimagined telling, a young settler family in Indian Territory is sitting down to a lonely Christmas Eve dinner....
11/25/2022
Christmas future

In this reimagined telling, a young settler family in Indian Territory is sitting down to a lonely Christmas Eve dinner. The setting is just four years after the Land Run of 1889, and Oklahoma is not yet a state. When a mysterious traveler knocks on their door, they welcome him in and offer him a meal in exchange for a story. The story he tells is one we all know. Ebenezer Scrooge, the would-be villain of his own tale, faces ghostly visitations and timely reparations as he is forced to look at his own life on a fateful Christmas Eve. The addition of the localized setting and the family on the prairie gives this production a unique and personal touch. Suddenly, Scrooge is not so far away, removed from the audience in Victorian London. He is here, one of us.

The Pollard Theatre Company brings back their holiday staple after a three-year hiatus.

The Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter makes his big studio return with powerhouse performances, inspired arrangements a...
11/23/2022
Soundcheck: John Fullbright - The Liar

The Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter makes his big studio return with powerhouse performances, inspired arrangements and a commitment to the road less traveled.

Kara and Jeremy Choate step away from their family photo gig for the dark, gritty Tenkiller, with help from metal monste...
11/23/2022
Blood pact

Kara and Jeremy Choate step away from their family photo gig for the dark, gritty Tenkiller, with help from metal monsters Chat Pile.

You’ll want to save this one for those lazy nights when you want to completely veg out and watch mindless television.
11/22/2022
Strain Review: Mint Doobie

You’ll want to save this one for those lazy nights when you want to completely veg out and watch mindless television.

Strain name: Mint Doobie Grown by: Stingers Cannabis Co. Acquired from: WeedzStock Dispensary Date acquired: Nov. 9 Physical traits: green and orange Bouquet: floral and...

 enjoyed yet another amazing show as the legendary  tore up the stage at  this weekend. 📸:
11/22/2022

enjoyed yet another amazing show as the legendary tore up the stage at this weekend.

📸:

“We're going to be the only bar in Oklahoma City where you can get this experience. So Miracle is very much like Christm...
11/21/2022
Holiday cheers

“We're going to be the only bar in Oklahoma City where you can get this experience. So Miracle is very much like Christmas Vacation. Really cheesy, awesome decorations. Everything's a sight to behold. We're gonna be making some awesome eggnog, mulled wine, snowball old fashioneds, all kinds of neat drinks…Not everybody likes to just sit at home with the family, they want to get out and look at lights and kind of experience whatever the holidays or Christmas means to them, and being the neighborhood bar that we are, we felt that this was a really good fit this year for us."

Uptown’s neighborhood bar is transforming into a winter wonderland through the holiday season.

On the day I voted, the atmosphere was different, with more police officers and more poll workers who looked nervous but...
11/19/2022
Thank you, poll workers

On the day I voted, the atmosphere was different, with more police officers and more poll workers who looked nervous but resolute. They greeted everyone warmly, instructed us on how to retrieve our ballots, and then thanked each one of us as we left. I picked up my favorite accessory of all time, the “I VOTED” sticker, and wore it for days. It would be hard to overstate the debt we owe to those who work at the polls. Many are volunteers, many are elderly and, unfortunately, many have left their jobs over concern for their own safety.

This election season, a tip of the hat is in order to all who dedicate their time making sure our democratic process continues.

If you were to be asked what artist is the best-selling Christmas artist, answers would invariably range from Elvis Pres...
11/19/2022
Christmas crescendo

If you were to be asked what artist is the best-selling Christmas artist, answers would invariably range from Elvis Presley and Bing Crosby to Mariah Carey, Josh Groban or Kenny G.

But that honor actually goes to Mannheim Steamroller, whose dozen Christmas albums (and counting) have racked up 31.5 million sales worldwide to date. And while Mannheim sounds like the name of a German heavy equipment apparatus, it is actually the nom de plume of Chip Davis, an Omaha-based composer/producer who has been churning out neoclassical new age holiday and secular music under this stage name since 1974.

Mannheim Steamroller plays the Civic Center Music Hall Nov. 22.

The musical juggernaut, known for its intense holiday music performances, play the Civic Center Music Hall Nov. 22.

11/18/2022

OKC Broadway presents Tootsie! A laugh-out-loud love letter to the theater tells the story of Michael Dorsey, a talented but difficult actor who struggles to find work until one show-stopping act of desperation lands him the role of a lifetime

Up to $20 OFF TOOTSIE The Musical from our friends at !
Use code DOROTHY20 for $20 select tickets.
TOOTSIE- Nov 15-20 at the Civic Center Music Hall

Visit okcbroadway.com for more information.

There's so many awesome things going on around OKC over the next few weeks. Keep the holiday cheer going all season long...
11/17/2022
Christmas corral

There's so many awesome things going on around OKC over the next few weeks. Keep the holiday cheer going all season long with this handy guide!

Oklahoma Gazette’s holiday roundup of local festive events to keep the holiday cheer going all season.

The Cowboy Cup will wrangle its fourth set of cannabis industry winners in Stillwater the first weekend of December. Rea...
11/16/2022

The Cowboy Cup will wrangle its fourth set of cannabis industry winners in Stillwater the first weekend of December. Read all about Oklahoma's biggest cannabis competition, plus check out the Holiday Guide and vote in the in the latest Gazette or at OKGazette.com.

11/16/2022

OKC Broadway presents Tootsie! A laugh-out-loud love letter to the theater tells the story of Michael Dorsey, a talented but difficult actor who struggles to find work until one show-stopping act of desperation lands him the role of a lifetime

Up to $20 OFF TOOTSIE The Musical from our friends at !
Use code DOROTHY20 for $20 select tickets.
TOOTSIE- Nov 15-20 at the Civic Center Music Hall

Visit okcbroadway.com for more information.

Here are a seasonal selection of wines to pair with holidays, in-law visits and all the seasonal celebrations headed our...
11/15/2022
Celebration libations

Here are a seasonal selection of wines to pair with holidays, in-law visits and all the seasonal celebrations headed our way

The  lit up  this weekend, treating guests to an incredible show. 📸:
11/15/2022

The lit up this weekend, treating guests to an incredible show.

📸:

This dense, trichome covered “sativa” is a bit sticky and breaks down into a thick bowl that offers a relaxed but subtle...
11/13/2022
Strain Review: Maneater OG

This dense, trichome covered “sativa” is a bit sticky and breaks down into a thick bowl that offers a relaxed but subtle body high that’s suitable for days when you need to be on the move.

Strain name: Maneater OG Grown by: CanOkie Buds Acquired from: Hilltop Gardens Date acquired: Oct. 25 Physical traits: frosted green and orange Bouquet: gassy, garlic...

The Laughing Goat's Kush Mints is bright and frosty offering a calm, well-balanced high for both mind and body making it...
11/11/2022
Strain Review: Kush Mints

The Laughing Goat's Kush Mints is bright and frosty offering a calm, well-balanced high for both mind and body making it excellent for relaxing and curling up with your favorite show or a good book.

Strain name: Kush Mints Grown by: The Laughing Goat Acquired from: Straiin Date acquired: Oct. 26 Physical traits: frosted dark green, orange Bouquet: citrusy and...

You nominated your favorites and we tallied them up, so now we need you to tell us who is the Best of OKC!
11/11/2022
Best of OKC 2022

You nominated your favorites and we tallied them up, so now we need you to tell us who is the Best of OKC!

Oklahoma City’s original and longest-running readers’ poll, Best of

Groundbreaking EDM duo SLANDER dropped their debut album ahead of bringing their densely visual and science fi-focused t...
11/10/2022
Rocketmen

Groundbreaking EDM duo SLANDER dropped their debut album ahead of bringing their densely visual and science fi-focused tour to The Criterion Nov. 17.

Some of us are expecting to spend much of the remainder of the year on kitchen duty, so the chefs at Guyutes have prepar...
11/09/2022
Loaded carbs

Some of us are expecting to spend much of the remainder of the year on kitchen duty, so the chefs at Guyutes have prepared a simple infused shrimp pasta dish to gas up the tank in between holiday marathons.

In advance of all the holiday cooking, the chefs at Guyutes offer a quick and easy infused pasta recipe to get us through the best and worst of times.

As the end of the year draws near, the need increases for many local nonprofits who focus their care on the homeless.
11/08/2022
Preparing for winter

As the end of the year draws near, the need increases for many local nonprofits who focus their care on the homeless.

🎟GIVEAWAY! Join Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma for their performance of A Christmas Carol, Nov. 16-Dec. 23! A classic holiday...
11/08/2022

🎟GIVEAWAY! Join Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma for their performance of A Christmas Carol, Nov. 16-Dec. 23! A classic holiday story by Charles Dickens of miser Ebenezer Scrooge who learns the true meaning of Christmas when three ghostly visitors review his past, present and future.

Tag a friend and tell us your favorite holiday tradition for a chance to win a pair of tickets to see the show!

Winner announced Nov.1 and will be able to choose any showtime. For more information on Lyric's production of A Christmas Carol, visit lyrictheatreokc.com.

Photos by Miki Galloway featuring Kaleb Micheal Bruza as Bob Cratchit with Tiny Tim, Johnathan Beck Reed as Edenezer Scrooge and the cast of Lyric's A Christmas Carol

With any luck, this might be the last issue where we discuss Kevin in the present tense.With the race neck-and-neck as b...
11/07/2022
With any luck, this might be the last issue where we discuss Kevin in the present tense.

With any luck, this might be the last issue where we discuss Kevin in the present tense.

With the race neck-and-neck as both candidates near the finish line, one thing is for certain — a Republican is going to win the race.

With any luck, this might be the last issue where we discuss Kevin in the present tense. With the race neck-and-neck as both candidates near...

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Our Story

It started as a labor of love, a desire to cover and report news in a fresh, unique and unfettered format, and Oklahoma Gazette’s first issue circulated 2,000 copies on October 15, 1979.

Over the years, we’ve grown a lot. Fiercely local and independent, Oklahoma Gazette focuses on quality-of-life issues and serves as the metro area’s arts and entertainment authority, now circulating 43,000 copies each week and reaching over 134,070 weekly readers.

Our Mission

Oklahoma Gazette’s mission is to stimulate, examine and inform the public on local quality-of-life issues and social needs, recognize community accomplishments and provide a forum for inspiration, participation and interaction across all media.

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Thank you to the Oklahoma Gazette for sharing Half Outlaw in this piece! :) Hope my Okie friends love this novel which features OKC and Tulsa.
It’s nomination time 😍 The Oklahoma Gazette ‘Best of OKC’ 2022 kicks off today, and we’d LOVE your vote again ❤️

Please nominate us in the following categories:

🗳𝗕𝗲𝘀𝘁 𝗣𝗹𝗮𝘀𝘁𝗶𝗰 𝗦𝘂𝗿𝗴𝗲𝗼𝗻 - 𝗧𝗶𝗺 𝗥. 𝗟𝗼𝘃𝗲, 𝗠.𝗗.

🗳𝗕𝗲𝘀𝘁 𝗠𝗲𝗱 𝗦𝗽𝗮 {𝗕𝗼𝘁𝗼𝘅/𝗙𝗶𝗹𝗹𝗲𝗿𝘀} - 𝗥𝗮𝗱𝗶𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 𝗠𝗲𝗱𝗶𝗰𝗮𝗹 𝗔𝗲𝘀𝘁𝗵𝗲𝘁𝗶𝗰𝘀 𝗼𝗳 𝗢𝗸𝗹𝗮𝗵𝗼𝗺𝗮 - Radiance Medical Aesthetics

You can nominate once per email address now - 10/3. You must nominate in at least 30 categories. Vote here 👉 https://bit.ly/3KTosPG

THANK YOU OKC!

Thank you SO MUCH to Evan Jarvicks and Oklahoma Gazette for this feature!!!

✨go stream my new album, FATE, below✨

https://distrokid.com/hyperfollow/alisonsloan/fate
Painted Sky Opera's Scalia/Ginsburg performance will hit our Te Ata Stage next week, with the iconic roles filled by seasoned, returning performers Lauren Cook and Brian Cheney. Oklahoma Gazette dives into Cook and Cheney's experience and challenges with the upcoming show, a perfect read before you book your tickets: okcontemp.org/scaliaginsburg. 🧑‍⚖️
Thank you Oklahoma Gazette for the write up and for supporting the OKC food scene!

https://m.okgazette.com/oklahoma/grab-and-go/Content?oid=9811069
Check out this Oklahoma Gazette story highlighting Destination Oklahoma, "a glimpse into the diverse meaning of what it means to be both an American and, more specifically, an Oklahoman, whether by birth or adoption." Bonus: Insights into Oklahoma City Museum of Art's current show, The Perfect Shot, and Gonzalo Lebrija's recently installed Campbell Art Park sculpture.
Pickup a copy of Oklahoma Gazette's review of Jabee's new release!!

The Emmy-award-winning powerhouse will be taking on the most historic stage in town TONIGHT along with special guests Murs, Sarafina Byrd, Stringsmen OKC, and brandonbirdwell. Secure your tickets online + at the door!

🎟: bit.ly/3zUFNTl
Thanks to the Oklahoma Gazette for this great write-up about our Art Moves program! Check it out and be on the lookout for FREE performances across OKC!

Did you recognize the handsome guy carrying the sun in this week’s Oklahoma Gazette?
Pieces of Us, Day 2, was another beautiful show!! We are so appreciative of the support, so far. Be sure to check out our feature in the Oklahoma Gazette. We are also partnering with them to giveaway 2 pairs of tickets so head over to their page and be sure to follow to learn how to enter. The winner will be selected on Monday, just in time for the last week of shows.

Check out the article here:
https://www.okgazette.com/oklahoma/art-leaders/Content?oid=9730791

Here is a quote from the article from the Pieces of Us writer and director, LaCharles Purvey: "...the thing with ‘Pieces’ trilogy is, I wanted to deal with su***de and depression and a Black family because you don’t see that on television. You don’t see that in plays,” he said.

Come have this conversation with us and support your local, black-owned, theatre company and artists this weekend or next! For showtimes and to purchase tickets here: https://thevanguart.thundertix.com/

If you or anyone you know struggles with mental health dial 988 for assistance.
Renowned ukulele player Jake Shimabukuro takes to Tower Theatre OKC’s stage solo to support his recent album of collaborations with musical legends. - courtesy of Oklahoma Gazette

https://www.okgazette.com/oklahoma/a-little-help/Content?oid=9718101

In the world of stringed instruments, the four-string ukulele has a small and kitschy niche that was associated with the likes of the late Tiny Tim and vaudeville. More recently, it’s gotten a slightly cooler image as artists ranging from actress Zooey Deschanel to musicians Nellie McKay and Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder have been using the uke to express themselves.

But the biggest advance is coming courtesy of Jake Shimabukuro. Not unlike what Bela Fleck has done for the banjo, Jake Shimabukuro is doing the same for this humble instrument associated with Hawaii and tropical shirts. And while the aforementioned Deschanel, McKay and Vedder are serviceable players, Shimabukuro has spent the past two decades as a solo artist, giving the uke a far higher pop culture presence.

Expect this elevation to go next level with the release of Jake & Friends, a 16-track project that finds the Hawaiian native pulling a Frank Sinatra-type Duets-like collaboration with an array of artists ranging from Willie Nelson and Bette Midler to Ziggy Marley, Jon Anderson, Michael McDonald and Jimmy Buffett. It’s a labor of love whose seeds were planted four years ago by Shimabukuro’s Manager Van Fletcher.

“Dan was telling me that I had to do a duets kind of record and then he started naming some artists,” Shimabukuro said. “I thought it would be awesome, but in the back of my head, I never thought it was going to happen. The thing that really got the ball rolling for us was when Ray Benson agreed to co-produce it with us. The first phone call he made was to Willie Nelson, who said he’d do it, and two months later we were in the studio recording ‘Stardust.’ Once we had that track down, it gave the album credibility and momentum. Before we knew it, we did tracks with Michael McDonald and Bette Midler. We started it pre-pandemic but finished it during the lockdown.”

Opening with an ethereal reading of Stevie Wonder’s “A Place In the Sun,” which finds Shimabukuro providing a musical bed for fellow Hawaiian Jack Johnson and guest vocalist Paula Fuga, Jake & Friends allows the soft-spoken instrumentalist to flex his musical muscles across a broad swath of musical genres. “Smokin’ Strings” finds him doing a delicate back-and-forth with bluegrass virtuoso Billy Strings that eventually morphs into a foot-stomping explosion of fleet-fingered fretting from both parties. Elsewhere, he delves into canons of Jimmy Buffett (“Come Monday”) and Bette Midler (“The Rose”) with help from the song’s respective authors.

And as someone who broke onto the scene when a performance of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” went viral back in 2006, Shimabukuro does a healthy deep dive into The Beatles songbook on cuts featuring Marley (“All You Need is Love”), Anderson (“A Day In the Life”) and Vince Gill and Amy Grant (“Something”). It all adds up to an experience that has left Shimabukuro both grateful and humbled.

“Each [session] has its own story and memorable moments,” he said. “In general, what I really love about this album is how diverse it is. As a fan of the ukulele, I just love how it’s being presented in all these different styles with these iconic voices and artists from different genres. In my wildest dreams, I never thought I would hear a ukulele played with Sonny Landreth’s guitar. Or Warren Haynes. Or Jon Anderson’s voice. And it doesn’t even have to be me playing. For my own ears in my lifetime to hear the ukulele with that sound still just blows my mind.”

Shimabukuro’s relationship with the uke goes back to his mother placing the instrument in his hands at the tender age of four. In his early 20s, the fifth-generation Japanese-American found himself a part of the award-winning local trio Pure Heart alongside percussionist Lopaka Colón and guitarist/vocalist Jon Yamasoto.

By 2002, Shimabukuro had signed a multi-album record deal with Sony Music Japan International. It was a major career inflection point for the young musician that struck him when the ink was barely dry on his contract.

“When I signed my first record deal — it was a seven-album recording deal back in 2000 with Sony Music in Japan,” he said. “I think that was the first time I felt that pressure, knowing I had to come up with seven albums and I’d never done a solo record before. It was the first time I felt pressure that there was this other side to it and that it wasn’t just for fun. And while I had deadlines and new responsibilities, it was such a great learning experience. There were times when it was hard, challenging and frustrating, but I learned so much. I had a really great A&R person working with me at Sony who pushed me, gave me ideas and songs to listen to and would suggest I try this or that.”

Like many of his musical peers, the pandemic turned out to be the one force of nature that forced Shimabukuro to slow. With two young children at home and a wife who works in health care, he didn’t find himself playing for the first five or six months of the lockdown.

“It was the first time in my life where I wasn’t thinking about playing. There were just so many other things going on and your focus really shifts,” he said.

But with his children shifting from remote learning to returning to school, the siren song of the uke called him back.

“After a certain point, I’d be up late at night and I couldn’t get to sleep,” he said. “I have a little home studio and I’d go in there and start writing and recording myself play. That really helped because I’m not good about sharing my feelings and talking about how I feel about things. Music helps me to navigate those things so I feel like I’m expressing them somehow. I did a lot of playing by myself and it really helped me through a lot.”

Now Shimabukuro is back on the road and has expanded from doing a two-man ukulele-bass show into a four-piece that includes “The Voice” contestant Thunderstorm Artis on vocals and guitar. As someone who has fully embraced and thoroughly missed the synergy of playing before a live audience, Shimabukuro is relishing the experience to the point where he had an unexpected reaction during his first post-lockdown show.

“I’ll never forget that our first show back was in Clearwater, Florida,” he said. “I walked out there and started my first song. When I was done and hit the last chord, everybody was cheering and it hit me. I hadn’t felt that in so long and I started crying because it was so emotional. I remember later on in the night, I joked around that I was so grateful to be performing in front of a live audience again because I forgot what that was like. It comes back to enjoying the kind of connection you can make with the audience. Just the joy you can share through music, creativity and being in the moment.”

Jake Shimabukuro plays Tower Theatre OKC on Aug. 9.

Visit: towertheatreokc.com

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