Get into the Montreal groove with Tala 

Who: Tala

Where: Boot Pub

When: Monday, April 14

Strap yourself into your comfiest dancing gear and board the Boot Express on Monday night for a dynamic roller coaster ride through groove, funk, acid jazz, reggae and East Indian rhythms.

Tala, a Montreal-based quartet put on a jam spread like no other and they’re back by popular demand for one night only on their third West Coast tour since forming in 2000. The east coast outfit come armed with a new addition this time around – Ryan Smith on guitar, who band founder Steve Venkatarangam describes as "the boost Tala needed to scale even greater heights of experimentation."

Unlike a lot of jam bands that don’t like to use vocals within their improvisation, Tala love to sing. Cheeky, quirky lyrics and dual harmonies abound on songs like Weirder Than Me and Fat Cat.

"I’ve always loved bands with vocals, it really gives people something to lock onto. A lot of the bands we are influenced by had singers. We think the harmonies create a real feel-good atmosphere," said Venkatarangam.

Some fans of Tala border on the obsessive. It’s not uncommon to see a collection of tape recorders and MP3s lying about the stage during the funky foursome’s set and these recordings are freely traded by fans on a number of internet Web sites. It’s a common occurrence that Venkatarangam said the band strongly encourages.

"It’s a crucial thing for us having people share our shows because it’s the perfect way for our music to spread. We can’t afford to tour to a lot of places just yet so this helps immeasurably. Every show is different anyway and totally different to our studio album in sound."

The studio album he mentions, their self-titled debut, is quite hard to find. The first printing, available only at the merch table at their gigs, sold out in no time. Subsequent printings are walking out the door just as fast. So what is it about their sound that keeps many first-timers coming back for more?

"Every live performance is unique as the band combines intricate structure with free flowing improvisation, which keeps the listener in awe and leaves them wanting more," offered manager Ben Reiman.

Add to that the signature East Indian style of guitarist-sitarist-vocalist Venkatarangam intertwined with the highly intense beats of drummer Adrian Aitken and fans are left screaming for encores. Backed by the progressive funk stylings of Nick Grimwood, Tala is a tight unit of pure groove from around the globe.

Tala has been keeping up an average of at least 100 shows a year, playing several festivals and showcases in 2002, including the Come Together Music Festival in Durham, Ont. and the Molson Canadian House Party with DJ Fatboy Slim in Banff.

In that time they have created quite a stir in the jamband scene, one they hope will continue to take them touring and expanding their fan base all over the continent. They have plans to hit the U.S this fall.

"The more we tour, the tighter we get as a unit," said Venkatarangam. "The crowd helps a lot with our development because if they know we’re doing something a little different, we’ll feed off their enthusiasm."

Get out to a Tala show and blow your boogie shoes off with beats and grooves that’ll make you dance all night long.


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