In the alpine beauty of Mt. Shasta, CA, a cultural phenomenon has taken hold. Taiko – Japanese drumming – is gaining popularity worldwide and has found its way to Mt. Shasta, California. 

Twenty-five years ago, taiko pioneers and musicians Russel Baba and Jeanne Mercer founded Shasta Taiko, and their taiko program has had a direct impact on the development of American taiko.

In 2005, the first ShastaYama Festival was launched by Shasta Taiko, and this year, on Saturday evening, July 31, the 6th Annual ShastaYamaFestival will once again entertain and inspire audiences with a spectacle of Japanese drumming, dance, and music.  Last year’s event attracted 1,200 concert-goers, who experienced world-class artistry in the dramatic outdoor venue of Mt. Shasta’s Shastice Park.

This year’s exciting line-up includes TaikoProject  from Los Angeles, who are the first American taikogroup to win first place at the Tokyo International Taiko Contest in Japan, and who performed at the 2009 Academy Awards, among many other high-profile projects. 

Prominent taiko artist Masato Baba is Musical Director for TaikoProject and will also perform with Shasta Taiko. Michelle Fujii and Toru Watanabe, admired for their virtuoso taiko artistry and dancing will once again grace the stage, and completing the program will be the elegant and powerful Somei Yoshino Taiko Ensemble from the San Francisco Bay Area and the always inspirational Shasta Taiko.

Preceding the music will be a demonstration by the Mt. Shasta Martial Arts Center of Mt. Shasta, led by Chuck Buhs.

“Organizing ShastaYama takes a lot of time and energy,” says Russel Baba, “but the precious wonderful hours of the festival are magical, making it worth the effort. The audience, artists, and the local organizations, businesses, and volunteers involved are all inspired and uplifted by ShastaYama. Taiko brings people together, and the ShastaYamaFestival merges culture and art with nature, a great formula for growth on many levels.  Jeanne and I recognize a special treasure is here to nurture and grow.”

ShastaYama 2010 will be held at Shastice Park – Rockfellow and Adams Drive – in Mt. Shasta, CA, at 6 p.m. on Saturday, July 31. The gate opens at 5 p.m. and food and refreshments will be offered by Sengthong’s, Red’s Cajun Cooking, Brown Trout Café, Wild Thyme Catering, Food Arts, The Milkman or bring your own picnic.  

Tickets are $25 (age 18 & up), $20 (age 13-17), $15 (age 5-12), free for age 4 and under. Tickets outlets are:  Village Books and at Soul Connections in Mt. Shasta; Bogbean Books & Music in Redding; Yreka Chamber of Commerce; and at the gate. For credit card purchase, call (800) 926-4865 ext. 203 and online at shastayama.org.  
Bring blankets or lawn chairs for seating on the grass, and warm clothes and flashlights are advised for after sunset. No pets or glass are allowed.  

For more information, check out shastayama.org, or call (530) 859-8686

ShastaYama is sponsored by Shasta Taiko – Russel Baba & Jeanne Mercer, Mt. Shasta Chamber of Commerce, and Mt. Shasta Recreation District