The Taarka Band: A Flavorful Four-piece Fusion of Folk…and More
Indie folk. Gypsy jazz. Classical. Bluegrass. Chamber rock. Sounds like a highly diverse list of bands appearing at a music festival, right?
Wrong. The categories are the diverse offerings of a single group, by the name of Taarka. The Colorado-based four-piece band has of late been making music reviewers ecstatic.
San Francisco Weekly calls them “a collision of Django Reinhardt and David Grisman,” while Flagstaff Live exults "Taarka is the new acoustic supergroup.”
But perhaps the most spot-on observation comes from a reviewer for the Midwest Record, who says "This acoustic, kitchen sink fusion will blow your mind.”
Not surprisingly, their musical influences are as wide-ranging as their song list. "There are many, many influences," according to Enion Pelta-Tiller, violinist and co-founder of the band, along with her mandolin-playing husband David Pelta-Tiller. "Our lyrics are inspired by old poetry and folk songs, and our music by everyone from Bela Fleck to Django Reinhardt to the Beatles to Bach to everyone we’ve ever played with."
Everyone they've played with includes musicians ranging from Taj Mahal to String Cheese Incident to Widespread Panic. And just a sampling of their venues includes Telluride, the Mendocino Music Festival, the Berkeley World Music Festival, and the Aspen Bluegrass Festival.
Among questions that the members are most frequently asked in interviews is the origin of their name. According to the band's website, "Enion, who loves to cook, especially Indian food, thought of it. It's the word which describes roasting spices to create the base for an Indian culinary delicacy. There are two kinds of t(a)arkas - wet and dry. A wet t(a)arka is a mix of garlic, ginger and onions sautéed in ghee. A dry t(a)arka is a mixture of whole spices, dry-roasted or fried in oil, til the seeds begin to pop."
And the culinary metaphors extend to how Enion describes their blend of the instruments' sounds: "Our solely instrumental tunes can either act like ginger between bites of sushi, or, with one of our tunes, 'Delices Au Chocolat,' as rich desserts."
Yum. But their distinctive--sometimes poignant, sometimes playful--lyrics are no less appealing. As in the song "Wandering" from their second album, "Adventures in Vagabondia": "I was a red-headed vixen / But they made a wreck of me / Now it looks like I'm never gonna cease / My wandering..."
Or in another song from the same album, "Go to the Ledge": "There's a twist in my comprehension / There's a twist in these straight winds / There's a twist in the world that's revolving / 'Round the nature it holds within..."
A reviewer from Synthesis Magazine has perhaps the most fitting last word(s): "Taarka began driving the crowd into a dancing frenzy as they combined Roma, Klezmer and jazz, infusing their rousing and exciting tunes with breakneck Zappa-esque breakdowns and insurmountable gusto. Regardless of your particular musical tastes, Taarka is a band that simply must be witnessed."