Taarka performs from New Disc Adventures in Vagabondia in Waynesboro

taarkaMandolinist David Pelta-Tiller and violinist Enion Pelta-Tiller enlist a colorful cast of characters for Taarka’s fifth CD, featuring 15 tracks that delve into their deep musical roots—Gypsy jazz, Celtic folk, bluegrass, chamber music, jazz, rock—to create a brave new sonic world.

Taarka will be celebrating the release of Adventures in Vagabondia with a performance in Waynesboro at The Hot Spot (901 W Broad St. ) on Thursday, Jan. 24, at 8 p.m. Tickets can be purchased by calling 540-949-5216.

With its sparkling fiddle arpeggios and smoky vocals, the opening song, “Wandering,” sweeps listeners into Adventures in Vagabondia, the fifth album from Taarka, the high-energy musical brainchild of mandolinist David Pelta-Tiller and violinist Enion Pelta-Tiller. Conceived in New York City in 2001, Taarka has toured extensively over the past decade, stopping in Portland, OR, for a stint before settling in Lyons, CO, in 2006. Yet the group’s artistic soul floats above geographic boundaries—part of the great collective of musicians who criss-cross the country, constantly revitalizing and reframing the sounds of Americana. It is this world (as well as an 1894 collection of poems by Bliss Carman and Richard Hovey titled Songs from Vagabondia) that inspired the title and eclectic mix of tunes that ensues.

“I like the way that ‘Vagabondia’ makes you think of a country, it evokes this community of people that travels around making music,” explains Enion.

Categorizing Taarka’s music, which borrows and builds on global folk, classical and jazz traditions, is mostly an unnecessary exercise. “We don’t want to be pigeon-holed into any one category,” says David. “Although we played mostly Gypsy music at the beginning, there is really only a hint of that on this album. We’re still essentially a family that travels, but we’re playing more Americana string music and string jazz these days.”

From the Bulgarian kopanitsa rhythms of “Nubus Nimbus” to the Nola-flavored “You’re All Right” and a twangy bluegrass cover of Gordon Lightfoot’s folk classic “The Way I Feel,” Adventures in Vagabondia recounts a series of vignettes that highlight the string band’s airtight songwriting, virtuosic chops, myriad influences and infectious vocal lines.

Along for the ride is long-time collaborator, bassist Troy Robey, and a dozen fellow travelers that include new-acoustic pioneer and fiddler Darol Anger (Turtle Island Quartet, Republic of Strings), guitarists Grant Gordy (David Grisman Quintet) and Tyler Grant (Winfield National Flatpicking Champion), and members of Elephant Revival and the Matt Flinner Trio.

Augusta Health Kris McMackin CPA
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Augusta Free Press