Described by SF Weekly as a “collision of Django Reinhardt and David Grisman,” Taarka is the new acoustic “supergroup” (Flagstaff Live) “presenting masterfully deep americana and gypsyjazz string band music!” Led by the husband-and-wife team of David Pelta-Tiller (mandolin, tenor guitar, vocals) and Enion Pelta-Tiller (five-string violin, vocals) Taarka fills out its unique sound with impeccable guitarist Ross Martin and bass powerhouse Sam Grisman on their upcoming release Making Tracks Home (out March 24). Now with a touring band made up of award-winning bassist Troy Robey and prodigious young guitarist Mike Robinson, Taarka is bringing their otherworldly, energetic music to venues across the US, Canada, and Mexico.
David, a versatile picker raised in Virginia on a steady diet of bluegrass, Celtic, classical and gypsyjazz, and Enion Pelta-Tiller, an award-winning classically-trained violinist who can switch seamlessly between Bartok and bebop (not to mention Gypsy jazz, punk, rock, bluegrass) began their journey together in 2001. After meeting at a Brooklyn Browngrass gig, the two began a Gypsy jazz busker act in the New York City subway before hitting the road as Taarka.
Taarka’s live shows strike a balance between well-crafted songs and spirited instrumentals these days, expanding on its beginnings as a purely instrumental string band putting a modern spin on Gypsy and Eastern European folk music. Taarka has drawn from wide-ranging influences over the past 10 years. Sophisticated listeners would be able to distill flavors of Western and Eastern folk traditions, jazz, rock, bluegrass, old-time, gypsy, Indian, and Celtic music all in a string band setting. Taarka has lately been gaining notice for their songwriting, which is informed by traditional bluegrass, oldtime and folk from America and Europe, 19th century poetry, and rock inspired by performances with some of the greatest names in songwriting today, including Darrell Scott, Greg Brown, James McMurtry, and Nathan Moore, but which incorporates sweeping pop and popping gypsy elements.
Since 2006, when David and Enion landed in Lyons, CO, known for its bluegrass and new acoustic scene their compositional output has taken on a decidedly American aura, with vocals added to enhance the stories told in their songs. Their fifth studio album, Adventures in Vagabondia, was released in January 2013. Taarka’s powerful acoustic rock instrumental, “A Whole New You,” was recently included as part of the soundtrack to Maximum Pictures feature-length docuementary, “1971“, to be released nationwide Feb 6.
Taarka’s joyous recordings benefit from starry guest performances and David’s masterful production work, each a carefully crafted travelogue tracing a phase of the groups evolution. Yet unsurprisingly, Taarka’s calling card is its colorful live show. Of Taarka’s performance at the Oregon Country Fair, Synthesis Magazine wrote, Taarka began driving the painted and costumed crowd into a dancing frenzy 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.
The band is equally potent whether as a down-and-dirty duo act or a stellar extended line- up featuring a top-notch array of fellow travelers. David and Enion have performed with members of the Grateful Dead, Phish, and String Cheese Incident, Yonder Mountain String Band as well as Darol Anger, Joe Craven, ALO, Keller Williams, Danny Barnes, Steve Kimock, Taj Mahal, Widespread Panic, The Samples, and Aquarium Rescue Unit, Kaki King, Rob Wasserman, Tony Furtado, The Motet, Dan Bern and The Everyone Orchestra.
Taarka has performed at major festivals across the country including High Sierra, Pagosa Folk n’ Bluegrass, Joshua Tree Music Festival, Oregon Country Fair, Sisters Folk Festival, Telluride Bluegrass, Mendocino Music Festival, Bumbershoot, Seattle Folklife, Nedfest, Lightening in a Bottle, Berkeley World Music Festival, Aspen Bluegrass Festival, San Luis Obispo Mozart Festival and The Millpond Folk Festival and many more.
gypsy jazz • husband wife duo
photo credit: Anne Staveley