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) and bassist Troy Robey, and lately our forth member has been either master guitarist Grant Gordy (David Grisman Quintet), or the impeccable guitarist Ross Martin (Matt Flinner Trio)
David, a versatile picker raised in Virginia on a steady diet of bluegrass, Celtic, classical and gypsyjazz, and Enion Pelta-Tiller, a classically-trained violinist who can switch seamlessly between Bartók 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.
Though Taarka presently balances between singer songwriting and instrumentals, from 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— And Troy now relocated from the Northwest to Denver– 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, will be released in January 2013.
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 group’s 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, 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…
Adventures in Vagabondia (2012)
Seed Gathering for a Winter Garden (2009)
The Martian Picture Soundtrack (2007)
The Trailer EP (2007)
Even Odd Bird (2004)
Man Chasing Woman Around Table (2003)
TAARKA Live in the Studio (2002)
David Tiller began playing guitar at age 8, spurred on by his musician father. His childhood in Virginia was spent learning the abundance of bluegrass and Celtic music there, but by age 14 he was enriching his knowledge with classical and jazz guitar training at the North Carolina School of the Arts, and began exploring the mandolin. With a diligent practice schedule and great aspirations, David took on the mandolin full time in his late teens, and was a founding member of the celebrated High Sierra Festival Record label’s band ThaMuseMeant, based in New Mexico. In ThaMuseMeant’s 8 year history, they toured all over the United States, sharing stages with the likes of the Dave Matthews Band, Sheryl Crow, Ricki Lee Jones, Blues Traveler, String Cheese Incident, Leftover Salmon, YMSB, Greg Brown, and many others. In 2000, when the band broke up, David moved to NYC to follow his heart and study jazz, where he met Enion Pelta, a member of Brooklyn Browngrass. They began writing together and formed the group Taarka to feature their music.
photo by Anne Staveley
Enion Pelta-Tiller began classical violin studies at age 3, but her education was always supplemented by improvisation lessons from her jazz guitarist father. By 16 she had taught herself to compose impromptu melodies in styles from classical sonatas to East Indian ragas and jazz standards. She attended Peabody Institute in Baltimore, MD, working towards a viola performance degree, while also studying english at Johns Hopkins. She, eventually landing in NYC, where she performed cutting edge music straddling punk, free jazz, and classical with various local musicians, and landed a gig with the crown prince of Hungary’s New Wave music scene, Menyhart Jeno, as the violinist in Mr Con and the Bioneers. She traveled to Hungary in the summer of 2001 to play the main stage at the Pepsi Sziget, Europe’s largest music festival, playing immediately before Run DMC and Morcheeba. Upon her return she focused more on composing and performing the music she and David had been working on together, and the two decided to make a life of it. Enion has performed onstage with Phil Lesh, Mickey Hart, Bob Weir and Vince Welnick of the Grateful Dead, Darol Anger, Darrol Scott, John Cowan, Fareed Haque and many others. photo by Anne Staveley
Troy Robey studied with the world renowned Jazz bassist Larry Gray in Chicago in the early 90′s. While in Chicago he played electric bass in The Junction, a jam rock group that toured the Midwest, South, and East, opening for acts such as Buddy Guy, Widespread Panic, The Samples, NRBQ, and Colonel Bruce Hampton and the Aquarium Rescue Unit. When not playing with The Junction, he freelanced with a number of jazz, rock, and blues groups around the Chicago area and Midwest. Taking an eight year hiatus from professional playing, Robey moved west to study psychology in Corvallis, OR and Pullman, WA. He completed graduate school, spent time working in higher education, writing and traveling, and returned to playing the bass in 2004 to fill a vacancy in the Moscow, ID-based touring bluegrass/jam band Chubbs Toga. In 2006, he began a relationship with the music department at Washington State University, playing for the university big band, Symphony Orchestra, and small jazz and chamber music groups. While at WSU he studied with jazz bassist, David Snider and cellist Ruth Boden, and had the opportunity to perform with such jazz musicians as singer Kevin Mahogany, saxophonist Brent Jensen, trombonist David Glenn, as well as WSU music faculty Greg Yasinitsky (saxophones), Horace Alexander-Young (saxophones), Jennifer Scovell-Parker (vocals), Dave Jarvis (percussion), and Charles Argersinger (piano). In 2007 and 2008 he competed in the international Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival in Moscow, ID and won the collegiate level bass soloist award both years.
We came up with the name on a spring day in 2002, when Enion, who loves to cook, especially indian food, thought of it: 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 sauteed 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. Yum! Taarka is in fact the sound of the spices roasting…WOW!
The first name of a celebrated Seto (Estonian) folksinger – Hilana Taarka, which means Taarka from the village of Hilana. Thanks to Marion Leptik for the new information!
In Poland, the device with which one shreds vegetables. This device is known as a Mandolin in English cooking practice.
In Tibetan: Walnut
T(a)arka is also the daughter of the demon suriya in Hindu mythology – a most evil demoness.
In Magyar, the language of Hungary: Colorful
A hand-made Flute from Bolivia, which plays a 5 note scale.
In the ever-more-popular Grand Unified Theory in modern physics, which states that the smallest states of matter – quarks, leptons, and other subatomic particles – are not particulate, but are composed of strings of energy which vibrate in different ways to create different “particle behaviors,” taarka is the term used to describe the vibration of the strings.
Tarka (note the single ‘a’) is a heart medication, which, as a Missoula, Montana rag informed us, causes nausea, diarrhea, constipation (?!), and dizziness. This should explain why we use 2 a’s instead of one in the definitions where one is the norm.
The residue left on the inside of your skull when you wake up from a really great dream (a chemical fact!)
A village in Tunisia.
A Croatian Noodle Dish.
A town/train line/otter in England.
If you find a definition and want to send it to us (legit definitions only, please), email us at email@example.com. We’d love to add it to our list!