It was Sept. 11, 2013, and musicians David and Enion Pelta-Tiller had just returned to their "lovely house on the river,” as Enion describes it. They had come back to Lyons from the road with their indie folk group, Taarka. That night, Enion was asleep with their 5-year-old son, Aesop. David was working in their recording studio, in another building closer to the St. Vrain River.
A friend sent a text message saying he’d been getting flood warnings. So David went outside to check on the river. It was higher than normal, but didn't appear alarming. He went back to work in the studio and about 30 minutes later, decided to check the river once more. The water was rising, so he went inside the house to gather some of their musical instruments, “just out of caution,” he says. At midnight, he thought he’d head back to the studio, but when he opened the back door of their house to go outside, water came rushing in.
He quickly woke up Enion and their son and they began loading musical instruments and other valuables into their van. Twenty minutes later, they headed for higher ground. They slept in the van that night.
For the next three days, they watched as their house was completely engulfed by water and mud. Left homeless, they headed for David’s childhood home in Virginia. There, they began writing songs inspired by the flood and its aftermath. Those songs are the focal point of Taarka’s new album, “Making Tracks Home.”
Enion was inspired by older flood songs, like Bessie Smith’s “Backwater Blues,” about the 1927 Mississippi River flood.
“I took that as sort of a model,” says Enion, who wrote her own flood song, “River’s Eddy Blues,” for the album.
“We were sort of dazed and confused for a number of weeks,” David says. “We’re still a little confused on where the next steps are going to lead us after all this time. But we look for the opportunity to let go and move on. Many of the songs on the record are reflective or bring elements of our flood experience and our life at the time into the music or the story.”
The Pelta-Tillers are now back in Lyons, living in a rented basement apartment and waiting to find out if they’ll receive compensation for their former house and property on the river. They plan to stay in Lyons, with its rich music community.
“We’d like to get back into our own home again,” David says.