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 award-winning bassist Troy Robey and prodigious young guitarist Mike Robinson, Taarka is bringing their otherworldly, energetic music to venues across the US, Canada, Europe 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.

What does Taarka mean?

In Indian cooking, “taarka” is the word to describe roasting spices to create the base for an indian culinary delicacy. 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. Taarka is in fact the sound of the spices roasting…

Other Meanings of TAARKA
  • The first name of a celebrated Seto (Estonian) folksinger – Hilana Taarka, which means Taarka from the village of Hilana.
  • 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 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 taarka@taarka.com. We’d love to add it to our list!