7 years ago, Tara Velarde wrote her first song.
It started out competitively enough.
When two of her brothers started to play guitar and write music, she felt the need to do the same. Despite an initial hatred for the guitar and for her own angsty ballads, Tara stuck with it. Ultimately, we may say that she was competitive with herself to keep improving.
Somewhere along the way, writing songs became less of an obligation and more of a lifeline - something that she couldn't eliminate if she tried. Her skills were honed throughout her college years, her confidence increased, and people seemed to dig the music.
A band was in order.
But once again, Tara knew nothing about bands.
The journey of the next few years was inspiring and humbling, as band members joined and left, performances triumphed and crumbled, other life obligations took over and receded.
One thing remained constant, however: a true belief in the power of this music. Tara does not believe in shirking away from the gift of a singing voice that she got landed with, nor her skill for crafting lyrical truth. Come what may, these two things are the pillars of her being.
The Tara Novellas, then, is the house built upon that pillar. Guitarist Jamos Velarde, drummer Joe Deardorff, bassist Andrew Endres, and supporting vocalist Cally Velarde possess unparalleled skill and intuition in finding the heart of a song and breathing life into it, infusing their own flavor and brilliance along the way. These five kids bring a musical integrity that will bring you to your feet and just as easily cut you to the quick.
Hold on for the ride
Layering accordion, ukulele, guitar, and percussion Oregon native Chris Ward slowly sculpted a sound praised for its distinct old world flavor and pop sensibilities. What began as a recording project evolved into a powerful live act complete with intoxicating melodies and harmonies that ebb and flow between antiquated and contemporary instrumentation.
Violins, piano, and acoustic guitar share the same unique sonic space as heavy bass, sampled organ, and a full drum kit. The music of Yaquina Bay draws inspiration from the colorful instrumentation of Beirut, the soaring melodies of Blind Pilot, and the blistering performances of A Hawk and a Hacksaw. It is a sound that is both nostalgic and fresh, familiar and new.
Yaquina Bay’s most recent full length record “The Eastern Desert” explores a musical landscape that distills Ward’s elegant song writing using the dynamics of their robust live show. The record also deals with this unique blend of the old and the new through Ward’s lyrics.
“I grew up in the deserts of Eastern Oregon”, says Ward. “A normal childhood really. Tree forts by the river, dogs, summer, winter, love and joy, heartbreak and sorrow. The Eastern Desert is an exploration of that childhood. The deep attachment and indifference I have toward the land in which I grew. The wonderful and terrible memories etched in to my core.”
In addition to exploring themes of transfiguration and childhood on their recordings, the band are not strangers to the intensive and deliberate process of live performance. Two full West Coast tours and countless performances in their home state of Oregon have secured Yaquina Bay as “the definition of a hard-working band” (Salem Weekly).
It is a description the band has strived to be affiliated with year after year, night after night, show after show. A comprehensive illustration of the roads traveled and melodies composed through the years. But it is also a determined allusion to the promising future of this band. A future containing multitudes of miles to be driven, fans to be captivated, stages to be conquered.
Yaquina Bay’s most recent release is a digital single entitled “Old Foes”.
Kelly Bosworth is a singer, writer, and performer of acoustic folk/soul music. Her haunting melodies and songs of loss and longing betray her love of old music, especially blues and ballads. Her self-titled debut album was released in November 2014 after the mysterious disappearance of her father. The resulting songs are a lamentation and a powerful meditation on hope and resiliency and love.