A touring band from Portland playing in the Walla Walla area would usually draw a fair amount of attention. However, Tal & Acacia, who will play at Walla Walla Valley Academy at 7 p.m. Saturday, came all the way from America's other Portland, in Maine, as part of their national tour that includes stops in California, Nebraska and Kansas.
Two local student groups will open for Tal & Acacia -- Walla Walla University band Speyerstorm and The Storybook Maneuver, a band from WWVA that will host the event at the school auditorium in College Place. Tickets can be purchased at the door for $8 or in advance for $5 at Blazing Guitars, Christian Supply and the ABC Christian Bookstore.
Talitha and Acacia Walters-Wulfing -- sisters in their early 20s who have been playing and writing music together since their teenage years -- describe their style as pop acoustic with a distinct indie sound and a casual vibe. A few minutes after listening to their music, it's hard to put the singer-songwriters in a specific genre; some of their songs borrow heavily from reggae and calypso and others are perfect coffee house ambience. They cite Imogen Heap, Canadian songstress Feist and hip-hop artist and former Fugee Lauren Hill as influences, yet their music differs from these performers in a major way: Tal & Acacia are a Christian band, but not the type that will scare you away from their concert with guilt-inducing sermons.
Talitha explained how important their Christianity is to the music they play and how spirituality can unite listeners who may be tired of hearing music without a meaningful message.
"If we weren't doing Christian music, we probably wouldn't be doing music at all," she said. "There are many sides to each song, but usually the theme is connecting with God and finding that center in Him.
"That was the inspiration of it all," Talitha continued.
"To give people hope. Not just to talk about who broke up with who but to deal with deeper issues."
Tal & Acacia describe the spiritual themes on the album as a "breath of fresh air or a cold splash of water."
Songs like "Garbage In" and "ClearView" are less about traditional religious issues and more about morality issues and the struggle to focus on what is important.
Jay Wilson of Wilson Promotions has been enthusiastically advertising the event around town and spoke highly about the duo from Maine and their upcoming performance, calling them "not only very accomplished singer-songwriters but also charming and kind."
It is a kindness that seems to run in their family. Tal and Acacia's parents ran an inner-city school for underprivileged youth and spent a year volunteering with the Salvation Army in Russia. During these experiences Talitha and Acacia developed a passion for world issues and service, which shines through on their debut album, "Wake Me."
In addition to the concert, Tal & Acacia will also sign copies of their recently released album at a meet-and-greet at Christian Supply at 4 p.m. Friday.
"We really want to share the music with a greater audience," Talitha said. "Music is such a powerful force that can touch people's lives. It really speaks to people in ways a lot of other things can't."