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Singer and Songwriter Tara Velarde has built up quite a following of loyal audience members through her recurring performances at the McMenamins Grand Lodge in Forest Grove. For Velarde, this is one of the best parts about performing at the Grand Lodge, something she and her group does on the first Saturday of every month. The group, formerly known as the Tara Novellas, has roots at Pacific University. Velarde graduated from Pacific in 2013 along with two of her band mates. The band, who has described their style as “folk, sometimes gypsy, sometimes indie-rock, and sometimes Latin-influenced,” formed while they were all attending classes together at Pacific.
The crowd at the Grand Lodge on the nights Velarde performs is usually composed of a mixture of students and locals from the community who are “drinking and enjoying themselves and the music,” Velarde said. The band recently made a switch in titles from the Tara Novellas to Tara Velarde. “I felt a pull to step into the role of singer, songwriter and front woman,” Velarde said. “It felt like a natural format for the band.”
The change in names has not changed much of anything else for the band, “just the way we bill,” Velarde said. She also added that sometimes at performances she will do a couple of solo songs on stage. “We like to keep a good variety in there,” Velarde said. Velarde said it is great when students can come out to catch them at the Grand Lodge, which is open to all ages. She added they are also performing a “big, fun, party-like” gig in Portland in the next couple of months, which would be a great time and experience for students who are looking to get out of Forest Grove and have some fun.