Taliska On Tour In ACT, NSW and Victoria, 2014

Taliska. Image courtesy of Taliska.
Taliska. Image courtesy of Taliska.

Taliska On Tour To Eurobodalla, Jenolan Caves, ACT and Victoria, 2014

Taliska is bringing a taste of Scotland to a parts of New South Wales and the ACT this month. They’re then plying their Celtic trade closer to home in Ringwood and Portarlington (Victoria) and many places beyond.

Hopefully they’ll be near you, and if they’re not, that’s just all the more reason to start loving their music and get them to your town next time they’re back this way.

OR get yourself on a Greyhound or Murray’s bus to one of the three venues, stat.

Definitely like them on Facebook and follow the trails, talents and travails of Taliska.

Who are Taliska?

Claire Patti has a voice that has to be heard to be believed, and she plays the harp (the stringed one), french horn and piano accordion. Claire sings harmonies with the guitar-playing band leader Marcus de Rijk (note the strong Scottish influence in that name — mmm, maybe not so much), while Geoff Jones plays pipes, whistles and bodhran. Angus Downing makes the whole thing fly with his wonderful fiddle playing. Taliska’s traditional Ceilidh will have your feet pounding the tiles.

The mini tour will take in a gig at the always popular Merry Muse in their new home at the Burns Club in Kambah, a performance at the majestic Jenolan Caves plus a house concert in one of the best locations on the Eurobodalla Nature Coast at Congo (just south of Moruya).

Image courtesy of Taliska

Bill Quinn: On a beautiful Monday morning, in the alley out the back of the Trad and Now magazine office – this is the first time I’ve done this – I’m talking down the line to Melbourne, and talking with Marcus de Rijk. G’day, Marcus.

MdR: Good morning, Bill. How’re you going?

BQ: Very good. Now Marcus, I first met you at some festival somewhere where you had your Scottish kilt on and you were playing in a little group called Braemar. Before we talk about Taliska, tell us about your affinity with, and long tradition with, the Scottish heritage.

MdR: Well, my ‘long’ tradition goes back to 1998 when I went along to a pipe band, the Rats of Tobruk Memorial Pipes and Drums and became a drummer with the Rats. And through a series of coincidences and happy circumstances along the way, eventually along the way began to play with Eddie in Braemar and that’s when we met, and that was at the Uranquinty Folk Festival.

And then in 2010, I formed Taliska. The pronunciation: as you would say ‘talisman’, then Taliska. It just rolls off the tongue.

BQ: Always good to know. Just to take a sideways bend on this one, your heritage is not particularly Scottish itself, is it?

MdR: No, that’s right. My heritage is fully Dutch. A great aunt of mine had drawn up the family tree on my dad’s side all the way to the 1640s, but we know that our family had lived in this little pocket in the centre of Holland, a place called Gooiland, since the 1200s.

So it’s a very long lineage but not very Scottish at all, but I don’t think that’s so much of a worry; good music is good music. It doesn’t matter what sort of music it is if you enjoy playing it, and I just happen to be playing Scottish music at this point.

BQ: The older I get, I believe fusion is a wonderful thing if you can take different cultures, but is Taliska a fusion, or is it down the line, front and centre Scottish?

MdR: It is a fusion in the sense that each member of Taliska has their own background and their own influences. So we bring that together as individuals and the overlap that we have in terms of enjoyment of different genres of music, the overlap is what we play together. It’s obviously Scottish folk songs and tunes, but we don’t dismiss the other aspects of of our musical life, and we bring those in.

So you might hear bits of, and nods to, bluegrass – as there is in the song that we recorded on our latest album: The Garden, which was written by Tim O’Brien. As we call it, we’ve ‘Taliskafied’ it, so it’s got different influences in it, so there’s a nod to both different genres of music there.

Image courtesy of Taliska

BQ: So when you trot out a bit of Scottish music and you’ve got a bit of clog dancing in it, we’ll have a fair idea that’s come from you then.

MdR: Absolutely! Although you’d probably sooner see Irish step dancing than clogs.

BQ: Fair enough!

Tell us a bit about other members of the band.

The original lineup was Geoff Jones – a fabulous piper, myself, and Colin MacLeod – a famous fiddle player. And then we brought in Claire Patti – a beautiful singer and harp player, she also plays horn and accordion. And originally we had Natasha Trinkle joining us on cello.

In the meantime, Natasha has parted company with us because she’s got a young family and the commitments of playing in a band was just a bit too much. And Colin is a dinky-di Scot with most of his family back in Scotland, and he’s finding that many of his family back home are having events and significant dates that he’s been missing out on, so he wants to be able to travel back home a bit more often.

So Colin has left us as well, and in his place we’ve got a fabulous fiddler, Gus Downine – full name, Angus Downie. He plays, as Colin has and still does, with the Melbourne Scottish Fiddle Club and he’s been playing on and off with us since October 2013. So the transition has been very, very smooth because they’ve both come from that very rich background that the Melbourne Scottish Fiddle Club is well known for.

BQ: We’ve got a list up here of all the dates going through to August, but tell us about what’s coming up in the next little while with Jenolan Caves and The Merry Muse and this little house concert down at Congo.

MdR: Yeah, so next weekend we’ve got a mini-tour of the region around Canberra. On Friday night we’re playing at The Merry Muse which we’re really looking forward to; we haven’t played in that region for quite a while. And then on Saturday afternoon, we’re playing at the Jenolan Caves. Now that’s a gig we’ve been wanting to do for some time.

One of the things that really draws us is playing in unusual places, and that was the reason in titling our first album Celtic Cafe. We wanted to bring our music out into coffee culture and cafe culture and beyond the walls of just the folk festivals and Celtic festivals. Early on we identified the Jenolan Caves as a speace that Celtic music played acoustically would really come into a different setting and something quite unique.

And then on Sunday we’ve got a house concert with Jock Howe in Congo, and that’s really how the mini-tour came about: Jock got in touch with us a good year ago or more now and said, would you guys be interested in playing at a house concert? So we said yep, and what else is near by, and we noticed Jenolan Caves is nearby, and the rest is history.

Image courtesy of Taliska

BQ: I love those organic tours that start with one thing and then spread out around them. Have you been to the area around Congo before?

MdR: No, I haven’t.

BQ: It’s absolutely, right on the Eurobodalla Nature Coast.

MdR: Lovely.

BQ: Marcus, thank you so much for joining us today and I hope it goes well, and I look forward to seeing Taliska somewhere along the road.

MdR: Excellent. Thanks, Bill.

Image courtesy of Taliska

*** Audio file will be removed at the end of February 2020 ***

Gig for Taliska on their mini-tour of NSW and ACT plus upcoming Victorian gigs:

Friday 23 May 2014 — The Merry Muse, Canberra
Sunday 24 May 2014 — Jenolan Caves, Jenolan (NSW)
Saturday 25 May 2014 — House concert in the Congo area (email: howejp@bigpond.com)
6-9 June 2014 — National Celtic Festival, Port Arlington (Vic)
Tuesday 10 June 2014 — Vic Folk Music Club, Ringwood (Vic)
Saturday 21 June 2014 — Battle of Bannockburn promo event (Vic)
Sunday 22 June 2014 — Battle of Bannockburn (Vic)
27 – 29 June 2014 — Camperdown Burns Festival (Vic)
Thursday 21 August 2014 — Mamma Vittoria, Fitzroy (Vic)
Friday 29 August 2014 — Conservatory Café, Wyreena (Vic)

Full details of Taliska gigs is at their website.

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