Jake Shimabukuro’s Change of Pace

Known for his amazing technique on the ukulele, Jake Shimabukuro (30), recently took part in this year’s Honolulu Marathon – the first for the Hawaii-born musician. According to an article on the Honolulu Star-Bulletin the marathon was one of the hardest things he’s ever done – changing his lifestyle which has in turn, affected his music too.

Shimabukuro is known for his hyperkinetic performances in which he bounces around the stage as he rapidly strums his ukulele. But as he approached his 30th birthday in November, he moved into a more mellow and what he views as a more mature style.

Also in the same article, there’s mention that his latest album from his own HITCHHIKE RECORDS label “Gently Weeps” (link will open iTunes) – released in September of this year and includes 11 tracks penned by him, has been on the Billboard’s World Music Chart for 12 weeks and ranked as high as number two. My personal favorite off of the album is “Wish On My Star (Vocal Version)”.

DA PUMP’s Special Xmas Live

J-Pop Dance/Vocal trio DA PUMP treated 300 of their lucky fans (out of 4,290 that tried to get into this event) to a special Xmas live event at Fuji TV (Odaiba, Tokyo) on December 25, 2006. The group performed a total of 13 songs including their latest single “Christmas Night” (AVCT-30122) – the trio’s first Christmas song.

[Via nikkansports.com.]

Cinderella Story: Erika Sunakawa

Here’s a story that’ll make you feel all nice and tingly inside (just in time for Xmas too). Miyakojima-born Erika Sunakawa (29), a care worker by trade, recently released a debut single called “Heart Drops” (YRCN-10178) on December 20, 2006. It all started from an appearance on the wonderfully entertaining karaoke show from NHK called “Nodo Jiman”, and later as a contestant in an audition show called “Uta Sta!!” she caught the attention of songwriter Yoshiyasu Ichikawa (SMAP, Naohito Fujiki, Shunsuke Nakamura). The rest is showbiz history. According to earthhopper, Erika’s EP is highly recommended at every CD shop in Okinawa. Tracks from the EP “Heart Drops” can be sampled at the Japan iTunes Store (clicking on the link will launch iTunes) and she has a blog too. 🙂

[Thanks to earthhopper for the scoop. Click on that link for the original story.]