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Olodum at Earth Celebration

by Donald Eubank

After last year’s all-star lineup for Earth Celebration’s 20th birthday, this year taiko drumming troupe Kodo mark the 100th anniversary of Japanese immigration to Brazil by inviting Olodum from the Brazilian state of Bahia to headline. An Afro-Brazilian culture group, Olodum started out in 1979 as a bloco afro (black percussion group) Carnival association that championed the African diaspora of Bahia. In the 1980s, Olodum pioneered a mashup of styles that came to be known as samba reggae. In the performances at EC, you can expect Kodo to meet their Brazilian rhythms with thundering taiko beats.

Also check out: EC is truly a festival in that there’s more than just performances to enjoy. Sado Island is a destination on its own, and Kodo make sure there is plenty to do on their native farout island in the Sea of Japan — learn to dance like a demon or bang on a drum, or just sit on the beach all day long till it’s time for the show.

The setting: At Earth Celebration, you can leave your shoes off. There’s nothing but grass all around and picnics of Japanese festival food, sake and wine. Unlike other bustling festivals, EC is pervaded by a relaxed and friendly air.

When/where: Aug. 22-24 in Ogi on Sado Island, Niigata Prefecture. Doors open 9 a.m; pre-events begin Aug. 19. Tickets are ¥13,000 for a three-day pass, ¥4,700-5,500 per day. For transport, lodgings and festival info visit www.kodo.or.jp/ec.