Press Releases




Release 7 May 2009

Mount Shasta, California
ShastaYama Taiko Festival
Saturday, August 1, 2009, 6 pm (gates open at 5 pm for Food Court)
Shastice Park (Rockfellow & Adams Drive)

$25 (age 18 & Up), $20 (13-17), $15 (5-12), free (4 & under)

Tickets available at:
Village Books and at Soul Connections in Mount Shasta, Bogbean Books and Music in Redding, Yreka Chamber of Commerce, at the gate, or by calling (800) 926-48655, ext. 203 or online at

Bring blankets or lawn chairs for seating on the grass, and warm clothes and flashlight for after sunset (530) 859-8686,

Taiko Grand Master Seiichi Tanaka Returns for 5th Annual ShastaYama Drum Festival

ShastaYama is the largest outdoor taiko festival in the western U.S., and this year's event on Saturday, August 1 at 6 p.m. in Shastice Park, Mount Shasta, CA, promises to be the most memorable yet with an expanded program of top guest artists.

Taiko Grand Master Seiichi Tanaka brought the modern form of Japanese drumming to America, founding San Francisco Taiko Dojo in 1968. Taiko in America is now flourishing, and Tanaka's influence has spread across the country and worldwide.

Two of Tanaka's former students, Russel Baba and Jeanne Mercer, founded Shasta Taiko in 1985, introducing the community of Mount Shasta to this dynamic style of drumming. Their efforts have culminated in an annual world-class outdoor taiko and music festival - ShastaYama.

"Tanaka Sensei has always had a deep reverence for nature and was deeply moved by Mount Shasta's majestic presence the last time he performed at ShastaYama," Baba said. "We are excited to present our teacher and San Francisco Taiko Dojo again for ShastaYama 2009."

"His passion for taiko and his extraordinary presence is reflected in his group," Mercer added. "You understand taiko's center, its spirit, energy, and feeling through their performance."

Featured for the first time at ShastaYama will be the taiko group Jun Daiko, also from the Bay Area. "Jun Daiko is a new group of outstanding performers," Russel said. "A part of ShastaYama's vision is to encourage and present emerging artists."

Returning to ShastaYama will be dynamic guest artists Masato Baba, Michelle Fujii, and Toru Watanabe.

Masato is the son of Jeanne and Russel and a member of the On Ensemble, last year's featured guest group. A recent high profile performance was the 2009 Academy Awards for Masato and the group TaikoProject, where he serves as Musical Director.

"The combination of taiko artistry and virtuoso dance by Michelle Fujii and Toru Watanabe adds a special touch to ShastaYama," says Jeanne.

Fujii is Artistic Director of Portland Taiko and Watanabe performs with Portland Taiko and with Warabiza, Japan's foremost folk dance troupe. Masato, Michelle, and Toru are top American taiko artists and inspirational leaders of a new taiko generation.

Shasta Taiko's members are from the community of Mount Shasta and perform for schools, events, and concerts throughout the western U.S.

"ShastaYama introduces our group and the community to many styles of taiko and music on a scale not often seen even in larger communities," Mercer said. "Last year over 1,000 people attended ShastaYama."

Located at the base of Mount Shasta in Shastice Park, ShastaYama is the perfect venue to enjoy an inspirational evening of taiko, music, and dance. "Combining these arts with the awe-inspiring beauty of the Mount Shasta area is a perfect fit," says Baba. "Taiko brings people together, and ShastaYama merges culture and art with nature, a great formula for growth on many levels."

The gate opens at 5 p.m. Bring a picnic or enjoy the great food and refreshments offered by Sengthong's, Wild Thyme Cafe, Brown Trout Cafe, Red's Cajun Cooking, Food Arts, The Milkman, and more. Seating is on the grass, and lawn chairs, blankets, and warm clothes and flashlights for after sunset are advised. No pets or glass are allowed in the venue.

Tickets are $25 (age 18 & up), $20 (13-17), $15 (5-12), and free for age 4 and under. Tickets may be purchased at Village Books and at Soul Connections in Mount Shasta, Yreka Chamber of Commerce, Bogbean Books & Music in Redding, and at the gate. For credit card purchase call 800-926-4865 ext. 203, and online at For more information call (530) 859-8686 or visit

ShastaYama is sponsored by Shasta Taiko / Russel Baba and Jeanne Mercer, Shasta Mountain Playhouse, Mt. Shasta Recreation District, and Mt. Shasta Chamber of Commerce.