Press Releases




Release 21 February 2012



What: ShastaYama 2012 - 8th Annual Festival of Taiko and Music
When: Saturday, July 28, 2012 @ 6 p.m. Gate Opens @ 5 p.m.
Where: Shastice Park (Rockfellow & Adams Drive) Mount Shasta, CA

8th Annual ShastaYama Celebrates Return of San Jose Taiko

"Yama" - mountain, "Shasta" - Northern California's majestic volcano, and "Taiko" - Japanese drums, together they make ShastaYama at the base of Mount Shasta a unique and inspirational outdoor music festival. ShastaYama's success mirrors the amazing development of taiko's popularity world-wide. Modern taiko has evolved from its ancient Japanese roots to a spectacular art form, and taiko performed amid the stunning alpine beauty of Mount Shasta heightens the experience for all.

For 27 years, Mount Shasta's Shasta Taiko has developed the art of taiko in northern California through lessons, workshops, and performances. In 2005, Shasta Taiko established the annual ShastaYama, the largest outdoor taiko festival in the country featuring many of the leading taiko artists in America.

ShastaYama 2012 is honored to present one of the premier pioneering American taiko groups - San Jose Taiko. They have appeared several times in Mount Shasta as Shasta Taiko's guest artists and were the featured guest for ShastaYama's first year. San Jose Taiko returns in 2012 to celebrate the 8th annual ShastaYama with Shasta Taiko.

Established in 1973, San Jose Taiko's program serves as a successful model for many taiko groups throughout the taiko world. Founders Roy and P.J. Hirabayashi received one of America's highest honors in folk and traditional arts, the National Endowment for the Arts Heritage Fellow in 2011. San Jose Taiko tours nationally and internationally, appearing in prestigious venues including Carnegie Hall. San Jose Taiko's performances have been described as mesmerizing, powerful, fantastic, thrilling, dynamic, entrancing, and spectacular.

ShastaYama 2012 will premier a new composition by Shasta Taiko. Shasta Taiko leaders Russel Baba and Jeanne Mercer were awarded a grant from the Shasta Regional Community Foundation Arts in Community program to create a new work - "Yama". "We opened the composing process to include ideas and input from Shasta Taiko members. It's very exciting, inspirational, and rewarding to have this opportunity to create something together." says Russel.

Taiko pioneers Baba and Mercer have a long relationship with Roy, P.J., and San Jose Taiko. "Jeanne and P.J. are 'Mothers of American taiko.' and Roy has elevated taiko development with his leadership and vision." says Baba. Jeanne adds "Russel is highly regarded in the taiko community for his unique approach. He has inspired many others to explore creative directions."

Shasta Taiko and San Jose Taiko have fostered, nurtured, and inspired a new generation of taiko artists and leaders. This new generation is well represented in ShastaYama's world-class performers - Masato Baba, Michelle Fujii, Toru Watanabe, Kris Bergstrom, and San Jose Taiko.

Masato Baba's impeccable artistry has put him at taiko's forefront. The son of Russel and Jeanne, Masato grew up playing taiko as a member of Shasta Taiko. Masato performs with new generation taiko groups On Ensemble and TaikoProject based in Los Angeles and serves as TaikoProject's Artistic Director.

Michelle Fujii is known for her blending of virtuoso dance and taiko. She has been a member of San Jose Taiko, On Ensemble, and TaikoProject and is the Artistic Director of last year's ShastaYama guest, Portland Taiko.

Michelle's husband Toru Watanabe has toured with Japan's leading folk dance group, Warabi-za. With Michelle, Toru helps lead Portland Taiko with his dynamic dance and choreography.

Kris Bergstrom is gaining a reputation in taiko as a member of On Ensemble and TaikoProject. Kris is an active member in the taiko community and brings a fresh and unique spirit to taiko and ShastaYama.

ShastaYama 2012 will be a reunion of relations and lineage of a very special "taiko family" and a historical gathering of leading American taiko artists.

ShastaYama 2012 will be held on Saturday, July 28 at 6 p.m. at Mount Shasta's Shastice Park - Rockfellow and Adams Drive. Gates opens at 5 p.m., and food and refreshments will be available. Bring blankets or lawn chairs for seating on the grass, and warm clothes and flashlights for after sunset. No pets or glass please. >>phone: (530)859-8686

Tickets will be available by June 1. Tickets are $25 - ages 18 & up; $20 ages 13-17; $15 ages 5-12; and free for ages 4 & under. Ticket outlets: Mt. Shasta: Village Books & at Soul Connections; Yreka Chamber of Commerce; Redding: Bogbean Books & Music; and at the Gate. Credit Card purchase: (800) 926-4865 ext 203 and online: http;//

ShastaYama is sponsored by Shasta Taiko, Mt. Shasta Chamber of Commerce, and Mt. Shasta Recreation District.

Review / Quotes

"At the ShastaYama concert set in Mt. Shasta's Shastice Park where the slopes of the towering mountain rise above you, the evening will provide a full sensory experience. As you sit gazing at the mountain, you'll feel the waves of sound pass through you when the performers a celebration of music and culture."
>Renee Casterline, InsideOut Magazine

"...exciting drum-beating by San Jose Taiko...a superb blood-racing exhibition of taiko drumming..."
>San Francisco Chronicle

"The group (San Jose Taiko) is clearly among the leaders of a contemporary taiko style... The style not only involves the most complex of rhythms tattooing on the drums but also elements of theater and dance."
>Paul Hertelendy, San Jose Mercury News

"Taiko in its purest form needs no expanation. It communicates through the combined spirit of the players and the taiko... Taiko is a way of living, a way of being."
>San Jose Taiko

"Drumming around the Mountain for over 20 years...a Japanese American couple brought taiko's ancient rhythms to sleepy Mount Shasta, changing themselves and the town...(Shasta Taiko is) spreading a thunderous message of festivity and harmony."
>Ann Simmons, Los Angeles Times

"Shasta Taiko...pushed the bounds of traditional music, bringing a new creativity that will carry taiko into the next generation...fashioning a new cultural and artistic tradition."
>Ann Herman, Anchorage Daily News

"ShastaYama is the fruit of decades of taiko in Mt. Shasta, where (Russel) Baba and (Jeanne) Mercer have built a legacy of taiko that has reached across the country and influenced the next generation of taiko artists."
>Renee Casterline, InsideOut Magazine