When the Flood Destroyed Their House, Taarka Turned to Music

David Tiller and Enion Pelta-Tiller, the husband-and-wife team who make up the core of the Lyons-based group Taarka, lost their house when the St. Vrain River flooded in 2013. “Whether it was bad or good wasn’t really the perspective; it was more just, ‘Wow!,’" Tiller says. “Definitely through the process after the flood, we found all kinds of beauty in it. Even watching the flood, it was amazing; it was awe-inspiring. Even while watching it engulf our house, it was a beautiful thing to watch in its sort of magnificence.”Tiller says the experience definitely changed their emotional outlook: “It sort of brought us to earth.” The pair channeled the feelings into Taarka’s new album, Making Tracks Home, slated for release on March 24.

“I think it came off on the CD,” says Tiller. “I hear from other people that it did — that there’s sort of a mood and a more emotionally deep experience in listening to the CD than perhaps [with] our former CDs. I think it brought us more into the heart of a song than maybe our previous experiences before that.”

While they wrote a lot of songs that were explicitly about the flood, much of what ended up on the album is more subtle and not quite as direct.

Making Tracks Home, the title, is a little self-description, in a hopefully poetic fashion,” Tiller says. “After losing our home, we still had our music. We were making a record, so making the record was giving us solidity and grounding in our continuing path.”

The new album — Taarka’s sixth studio recording — features bassist Sam Grisman (son of bluegrass legend David Grisman), guitarist Ross Martin and guest spots by trumpeter Ron Miles, banjoist Jayme Stone, guitarist Grant Gordy and Railsplitters banjo player Dusty Rider.

Taarka, which the Tillers formed in Portland, Oregon, in 2001, started off as an instrumental duo heavily influenced by gypsy, world, classical and jazz music, and for many years, Tiller notes, their compositions were very complex and diverse. But in the ensuing years, “we’ve really come into singing and songwriting a lot more,” he says. “I think we brought it back to America, so to speak. I think we keep the influences of the world music and the gypsy music and jazz music and so forth, but we’re playing sort of Americana music, more of an American folk-based sound as opposed to world folk for a lot of our material.”

Taarka CD release, with Caravan of Thieves, Olivia Mainville, 8 p.m. Saturday, March 28, Walnut Room, 303-295-1868, $11-$14; 7 p.m. Friday, March 27, eTown Hall, Boulder, 303-443-8696, $15-$18.
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Jon Solomon writes about music and nightlife for Westword, where he's been the Clubs Editor since 2006.
Contact: Jon Solomon