Monday, July 30, 2012

Shastayama 2012!

This past weekend, SJT played at Shastayama, an annual festival held in Shastice Park, at the base of Mount Shasta in Northern California.  This was the 8th year that Shasta Taiko has presented the festival, and the 2nd time SJT was invited to play.  I didn't go when the group played in 2005, but I'm really glad I was there this year!

This year, aside from SJT and Shasta Taiko, was Michelle Fujii and Toru Watanabe, and Kris Bergstrom who played both with Shasta as well as with Masato Baba (who also played with Shasta).  The festival gets about 1,000+ people each year (I heard about 1,300 last year) and was broadcast via Livestream this year for those who couldn't make it.

It was a bit of drive up (six hours) and we had to tech in that night, but the following morning was free.  There's a lot to see/do around the area but with the drive and late night, most of us decided to rest up instead.  The show started at 6:00pm and we got back home about 1:30am following the load-out and after-party.

There were some highlights and takeaways for me:

  • Watching PJ and Roy play onstage with Shasta Taiko, soloing in two different songs.  It's been a while since I've seen them be able to cut loose like that, but a lot of our members haven't ever gotten to see that!  Watching the members watch Roy and PJ was fun, too.
  • Watching Jeanne Mercer and Russel Baba perform on their home turf, with their group and their songs.  I can't really do justice in describing their energy or movements; it's just something you have to experience.
  • Getting to solo in the group finale piece at the end before another SJT member, then Roy, then PJ.
  • Bonding with Kris Bergstrom over musical drills, toys, and visiting Japan.  We gave each other "homework," so to speak.
  • Inspiration to write music.  Enough said! 
It was a great weekend and great to hang with some of the people that shaped what North American Taiko has become.   I hope to ride the bump of creativity for a while and see what comes from it.

If you're ever up for watching a lot of great taiko in a beautiful setting, I highly recommend attending Shastayama in the future.  Great stuff!

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