From sooty New York subways to Central Oregon: Taarka comes to Bend

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David Tiller woke up in September 2013 to find his Colorado home full of water. The solution? He and his wife went on tour.

Of course, they had been recording music for over ten years already as Taarka, a bluegrass/jazz/gypsy mishmash named from an Indian cooking procedure. And now, they’ve made their way to Central Oregon, where they’ll be playing at Pak-It Liquidators on May 10.

The Broadside caught up with David, who is the vocalist, guitarist, mandolin and Bouzouki-player for Taarka.

Broadside: You’re originally from Virginia and in your music, I can hear the bluegrass and folk. Where do the gypsy music, jazz, traditional Eastern and other influences come from?

I’m from Virginia, but my wife Enion is from San Francisco, and both of our dads were musicians. Her dad was a jazz guitarist, and my dad also played jazz and rock and roll and blues guitar … So we had a lot of influence from our families, especially in the dad department, and Enion was born listening to gypsy jazz, and I’ve always loved gypsy jazz and studied it, so that was a strong influence in our early days, but more lately we’ve come back more to America and we’re playing a lot more Americana, folk and bluegrass-oriented music.

Broadside: Any reason for that specifically?

I think it’s sort of evolution. We initially started out with music that we really fancied as sort of a getaway from our roots. It’s part of that exploration … it’s still very much a part of us. But being in America, and being Americans, you can’t get away from your audience. Even though we had an audience for the gypsy music, there’s certainly a lot more people who want to hear something that seems more familiar to them.

Broadside: Speaking of audience, you two started out busking in the New York subway. How has that affected the way you play your music?

When you’re busking, so many people are walking by you that eventually you just sort of lose all your self-consciousness. …When we met, it was our way of making a living. Playing in the clubs at the time wasn’t easy. We got work out of it. A lot of people came up and employed us. We also made more money playing in subways than a lot of people did playing gigs. So it was a lucrative thing for us. [But] the air quality down there is terrible. We’d blow our noses in the evening and thick, black soot would come out of our noses from the subway. So we realized we had to stop.

Broadside: You’ve been recording for over 13 years with your wife. What part of the music is her influence and what is yours, or by now are you both synergized into a sort of shared consciousness?

80-90 percent of ourselves have synergized, but there’s still individual elements. She’s not as bluegrass-oriented as I am. I’m probably more of a singer-songwriter stylist, whereas she’s more of a pop singer, pop writer in a way. The differences aren’t dramatic.

Broadside: Are you planning on touring outside of the US?

We’ve toured in France and Amsterdam and in Mexico. We’ve got a U.K. tour coming up next year, where we’ll tour Scotland and England.

Taarka in Bend, Ore.:

8 p.m. Saturday, May 10

Pakit Liquidators, 903 S.E. Armour

Cover: $10; Information: 541.389.7047

taarka.com

Scott Greenstone | Cooper Malin | The Broadside
(Contact: sgreenstone@cocc.edu)

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