It has four strings and a two-octave range, but the ukulele captured the imagination of Jake Shimabukuro, who brings his latest tour to Thunder Valley on Saturday.
Once associated only with Hawaii and Arthur Godfrey, the ukulele’s prominence has been sporadic.
Shimabukuro has raised the instrument to a whole new level, taking it places nobody ever dreamed it could be taken – into classic rock, such as “Bohemian Rhapsody,” or into inspirational music, such as “Ave Maria” and Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” He started by making a YouTube splash in 2005 with George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”
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Now, he’s gone country. His latest album, “Nashville Sessions,” went to No. 3 on the Billboard charts. He recorded it in January 2016 with two of the city’s best session players, bassist Nolan Verner and drummer Evan Hutchings, and has been steadily touring to promote it since.
Regardless of the style of the music, Shimabukuro stays faithful to the heart of the instrument. He only uses effects pedals from time to time to allow him to loop himself in concert. Otherwise, no flash, no bang, just some great picking. (7:30 p.m.; $39.95-$49.94; thundervalleyresort.com)
There’s a major change on the riverfront in Reno, a new hotel. Actually, an old hotel, reborn twice, which makes the name appropriate – Renaissance Hotel. Originally opened in 1956 as the Holiday Hotel, it catered to sportsmen and offered no gaming. The gaming came soon, however, and the Holiday became known for two things primarily – the Shore Room overlooking the Truckee River and a late-night cabaret that featured some of the best acts of the time.
The Holiday Hotel then was significantly remodeled to become the Siena and was troubled from the start. Now, another major redo is completed. The Renaissance Hotel joins a portfolio of 160 other Renaissance properties around the world. The riverside-dining experience – surprisingly the only one in Reno – has returned, and so has the absence of gaming. It’s pet-friendly, so bring your pet, have a tag engraved and leave it on a wall of tags. It will be there when you return.
More this week
There’s classic rock with Air Supply at Cache Creek (Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 4 p.m.; $55-$85; cachecreek.com); and longtime comedian Howie Mandel appears at Reno’s Grand Sierra Saturday (8 p.m.; $32-$277; grandsierraresort.com).