Hawaiian drummers to sample Spam

Members of Hawaiian youth percussion ensemble Zenshin Daiko play drums during a performance. -- Photo provided

Austin will soon get a taste of Hawaii, and in return, Hawaiians will get a taste of Spam.

Zenshin Daiko, a non-profit group of about 50 performers ages 6-17 from Makawao, Hawaii, will perform at Bandshell Park in Austin at 7 p.m. Thursday. The Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Austin Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department will put on the concert with the help of other sponsors.

The group is dedicated to teaching taiko to children, and sharing it with others. Taiko, which comes from Japanese and is often spelled with a ‘t’, means “great” or “wide” drum, a reference to the enormous drums the group plays. The performance will be high-energy.

“It’s just extremely streamlined and fascinating,” said Cheryl Corey, executive director of the Austin CVB.

Zenshin Daiko is coming to Minnesota to perform in honor of Hawaiian Chuck Hazama, a former mayor of Rochester, Corey said. The performance will be part of the 30th annual Rochester Fest, and includes participating in a parade before 35,000 spectators.

While in Minnesota, the group decided it had to stop by Austin, also.

“They are self-proclaimed Spam fanatics,” she said. “Part of their plan when they came to Minnesota was they absolutely wanted to have the whole Spam experience.”

Before performing at the concert, the group will visit the Spam Museum and tour The Hormel Institute, Corey said. After, they will dine on Spam burgers.

Zenshin Daiko, started by Anthony and Valerie Jones in 1999, averages four performances a month. The group has performed in a wide range of locations, including Los Angeles, Oshkosh, Wis., and Hachioji, Japan. The music is a way for the group to spread the taiko culture.

“By looking forward and focusing our efforts on the future, we can expand an awareness and appreciation of our culture and have a lot of fun, too,” the group said on its website.

Corey said the group will be around after the concert, and attendees are welcome to meet them.

The Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry waived the Bandshell rental fee to help facilitate the concert, Corey said, and Hormel and Superfresh donated food. Spammy and Bruiser will be there.

Admission is free to the show, which should last about 45 minutes. Attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets to use in Bandshell Park. The Paramount Theatre will serve as a rain location. Call the Austin CVB at 507-437-4563 with any questions.

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