Taiko stars returning for 2014 ShastaYama festival in Mount Shasta

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald
A past ShastaYama photo of Masato Baba with Mt. Shasta in the background. Photo from shastayama.org

The ShastaYama Japanese drumming outdoor festival returns in 2014 after taking a year off, featuring a special gathering of many of the leading artists and pioneers of taiko.

It’s scheduled for July 26, beginning at 6 p.m. at Shastice Park in Mount Shasta.

ShastaYama 2014 will showcase a wide variety of music and art with original creative work that honors the traditions.

Featured artists are:

• Grand Master Seiichi Tanaka and San Francisco Taiko Dojo

• Kenny Endo Taiko Ensemble

• Masato Baba

• Michelle Fujii

• Toru Watanabe

• Shasta Taiko – Russel Baba and Jeanne Mercer

Grand Master Seiichi Tanaka is one of the most influential individuals in the development of traditional and modern taiko. Tanaka Sensei is considered the “Father of American Taiko.”

He has been honored for artistic excellence and authenticity and recognized by both American and Japanese governments. He and his troupe, San Francisco Taiko Dojo, have toured worldwide spreading the spirit of taiko.

Master Kenny Endo has been influential in introducing America to Japanese classical and festival drumming and is recognized worldwide for the use of taiko in contemporary compositions.

Endo Sensei is the first American and foreigner to receive a “natori” (stage name and master’s license) in “hogaku hayashi” (Japanese classical music). He has inspired new directions for taiko and is a recognized American taiko leader.

Masato Baba, Michelle Fujii and Toru Watanabe are recognized as leading influential taiko artists and are perennial favorite guests at ShastaYama. They represent the new generation of taiko artists.

Master Kenny Endo and Shasta Taiko’s Jeanne Mercer and Russel Baba started taiko training with Grand Master Tanaka. Masato Baba started taiko with Shasta Taiko and later trained and toured with Master Endo.

Michelle Fujii is the artistic director for Portland Taiko and with Toru Watanabe, Portland Taiko is influencing taiko’s development with their extensive backgrounds in Japanese folk dance.

ShastaYama was started by Russel Baba and Jeanne Mercer, who founded the Shasta Taiko group shortly after they moved to Mount Shasta nearly 30 years ago.

See http://shastayama.org for more.