Euforquestra blends multiple genres into winning sound
BY MARY HOULIHAN April 29, 2013 2:25PM
Eufoquestra headlines Abbey Pub on April 27.
TWIN CATS; DAVE BESS
♦ 9:30 p.m. April 27
♦ Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace
♦ Tickets, $8 advance, $10 at the door
♦ (773) 478-4408;
Updated: April 29, 2013 2:51PM
At first glance, the Colorado-based band Euforquestra may simply seem like a bunch of guys with a bunch of musical tastes who aren’t afraid to mix it up. But listen to the band’s self-described “high intensity global dance music” and it all gets a bit more complex. Their sound is wildly genre-bending — a percussion and horn driven blend of modern beats fused with Afrobeat, reggae, dub, funk, rock, soca and highlife, along with traditional sounds from Cuba, Brazil, West Africa and beyond.
It’s enough to make your head spin. Think jam band on the international stage.
“We want to make music that gets people up and dancing,” says guitarist Mike Tallman. “We’re not a ballad type of band, but we’re also not a traditional jam band. We jam within a structure not free form. We want to get our music out to a lot of different audiences.”
In addition to Tallman, Euforquestra is Ryan Jeter (tenor sax), Austin Zalatel (alto sax), Craig Babineau (drums), Adam Grosso (bass), Matt Wright (keys) and Scott Mast (percussion).
The 10-year-old Euforquestra formed in Iowa City, Iowa, where several members were attending college. The band eventually relocated to Fort Collins, Co., where the music scene and lifestyle “felt like the right fit,” Tallman said. “People here like working together rather than against each other. We’ve been able to grow within a great community of musicians.”
Collectively, band members each have a strong interest in the history behind the music and the traditions from other countries that have so influenced their songwriting and playing.
“We’re a bunch of white guys from the Midwest who try to do our homework,” Tallman explains. “We want to respect the music and do as much justice to it as we can.”
One of the biggest influences has been Paul Simon’s “Graceland” album in which Simon explored African musical trends, introducing them to a broad worldwide audience. The album encouraged Euforquestra musicians to begin their own exploration of African music, including soukous and highlife, as well as contemporary Afropop sounds and the Afrobeat music of artists like Fela Kuti.
In fact, Euforquestra’s 2006 album, “Explorations in Afrobeat” is “almost an academic study” of these musical forms, says Tallman. “All this music is so infectious. We were just fascinated by the tones and how it worked.”
Euforquestra is currently working on a fifth album which will be more funk and reggae influenced. The current tour includes much of this new music. “We like to develop songs in front of a live audience before we record them,” Tallman notes. “
Euforquestra also is one of the few bands, if any, that has its own music festival. What started in 2004 as a fan appreciation party, Camp Euforia has grown and evolved into Iowa’s premiere indie music festival. The community-inspired fusion of local and national acts heats up the heartland July 12-13 in Lone Tree, Iowa, just outside Iowa City.
“It’s pretty crazy to look at where it started and where it’s gone,” Tallman says. “It all happened very organically. We were just trying to throw a party.”
Featured at this summer’s event on two stages are Greensky Bluegrass, Dumpstaphunk featuring Ivan Neville, Pimps of Joytime, Family Groove Company, Pert’ Near Sandstone, That One Guy and much more. And, of course, Euforquestra will be on hand both nights to get the party started.
Mary Houlihan is a local free-lance writer.