In the sixth and seventh centuries, Japanese taiko drums were used to communicate with the gods and to send messages between villages. On Saturday, the sights and sounds of modern taiko will be communicated live around the world during the 8th annual ShastaYama Festival.
Though all but the very first ShastaYama events have been recorded for posterity, this is the first time the festival will be presented live for all to hear, said founders Jeanne Mercer and Russel Baba.
The idea isn't without its challenges, said John Cumming, who along with technical help from Shinya Suzuki and Mario Rubino, have developed a way to bounce a signal from Shastice Park, to a point on Everitt Memorial Highway and back down to the roof of the Snowcrest building.
Generally, getting a strong signal at the park isn't possible because of the surrounding trees. But through a system of line-of-sight wi-fi dishes and by using flat surfaces from which to bounce a signal, Cumming said they found a way to get a connection of 30 megabytes per second, which is more than enough to stream live.
"You'll be able to watch the show on iPhones, Androids, or on a desktop computer," said Cumming.
"We have incorporated fun interactive elements using smartphones," Baba said, like having the crowds text about and photograph the event while it's happening. "We like to have a lot of audience participation and interaction."
Participants also get involved during interactive dances, Baba said.
"It's not just a concert that you sit down and watch. It's really an entire experience... it's my vision to one day incorporate sculpture and art out on the field. Like, as you listen, you could wander through a sculpture, but we're not there quite yet," Baba said.
To see the live streaming video, you can go to one of two websites, including siskiyouTV.com or shastayama.org
This year's ShastaYama will feature Shasta Taiko and a bevy of world class taiko performers from across the western US.
Guests include San Jose Taiko, Masato Baba, Kris Bergstrom, Michelle Fujii, Toru Watanabe, and Roy and PJ Hirabayashi.
"The festival has gained quite a reputation in the wider taiko community, and we have presented many of the luminaries of the taiko world," said Mercer. ShastaYama is the largest outdoor taiko festival in the country, she added.
Organizers think that by offering a free, live broadcast of the spectacle across the world, people will see the performance and decide that next year, it's something they'd like to experience first hand.
"It's not just the drumming and the performance that makes ShastaYama special," said Mercer. "It's the entire venue. We take the upper athletic field at Shastice Park and transform it into a magical setting, with streaming banners and lanterns. We have a professional stage and lighting, and it's all against the stunning backdrop of Mt. Shasta... It's so unique and awe-inspiring. But it's hard to describe in words. You just have to experience it to understand and appreciate it."
Page 2 of 2 - Rubino said by presenting what ShastaYama and the Mt. Shasta area has to offer around the world, the potential for growth is huge. Once people experience the concert on video, they'll be more tempted to make ShastaYama and Mount Shasta a vacation destination next summer.
This year's festival will take place Saturday, July 28. The gate will open at 5 p.m. and the music will begin at 6 p.m.
Food and refreshments will be available, including barbecue by Robert Wallace and healthy alternatives by Mountain Star Cafe; vegetarian fried rice and fried rice with meat from Keith Towlen of Pancho and Lefkowitz; coffee drinks from Northbound Coffee; ice cream treats from The Milkman; and croissants, pastries and other desserts from Luna Bakery in Ashland.
Festival-goers are encouraged to bring blankets or lawn chairs for seating on the grass, and warm clothes and flashlights for after sunset. No pets or glass will be permitted.
Tickets are $25 for ages 18 and over; $20 for ages 13-17; $15 for ages 5-12. Ages four and under are free. They're available at the gate.
For more information, visit shastayama.org