Q&A: Taraf de Caliu

The Romany supergroup bring their folk tradition to the International Festival

feature (edinburgh) | Read in About 3 minutes
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Taraf de Caliu
Photo by Florin Bondrila
Published 04 Aug 2022

Can you tell me a little more about ​​Taraf de Caliu and how the group links to Taraf de Haïdouks? Who is involved in the newer group?

In 2016 I (Larisa Perde) met Caliu when he came back to Romania with the musicians of Taraf de Haïdouks. Stéphane Karo, one of the souls and visionary men that founded Taraf de Haïdouks had died and they were back on the road alone, without concerts. So we [independent Romanian record label Vinyl, Rum, Tapas & Wine] started to work on a new future for these legends.

We called all the lasting members of Taraf de Haïdouks: Caliu Anghel (violin), Robert Anghel (violin), Ionică Tănase (cimbalom), Marius Manole (accordion), Filip Simeonov (clarinet), Viorica Rudareasa (voice), Iulian Vlad (double bass) and started a new project – Taraf de Caliu. 

We wanted a start without being stuck in the past; we needed to focus on the music and concerts. In the beginning it was harder, as they weren’t so known in Romania, especially with the new name. But in time, we built a very strong community of fans and new adopters, that discovered Haïdouks through Taraf de Caliu. The beauty of this music is that it conquers the hearts of such different people – young and old, intellectuals, hipsters, etc. Now we have many concerts in Romania and most of them sell out.

One of the most beautiful parts of this story is that one of the founders of Taraf de Haïdouks returned, after the insistent requests of the musicians. Michel Winter left Taraf de Haïdouks years ago, and is now on the road with them again. It’s all new and all the same.

For anyone unfamiliar with Romanian folk music, what can they expect to hear? And what can audiences expect from your live performance?

Why should you pay attention to Caliu’s band? If you are interested in music anthropology, you must know that they are the last generation of gypsy musicians that play lautareasca music from Clejani, a place called the Mecca of gypsy music. If you are just passionate about music, you’ll be touched by this music. How many things succeed in really touching us nowadays?

You’ve collaborated with many names over the years, how important is collaboration to the group in general?

Music collaboration is like friends telling stories to each other. And, in this way, creating new stories.

What is your ultimate goal with your music and what do you want listeners to take away from it?

Next year we will launch an album that will be dedicated to the memory of Stéphane Karo and Speranța Rădulescu, the ethnomusicologist that first discovered them. And it’s the first one produced 100% at home in Romania.

What does the future hold for Taraf de Caliu and how are you feeling about touring again?

Who knows? We just live in the present fully!