Eufórquestra comes home for a cause


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A perfectly sculpted mustache, sweat band, and, of course, its new song “Fire” prepare Eufórquestra for an intense game of Ping-Pong in the track’s music video. Saxophones, guitars, bass, keyboards, and drums create the special mix of funk, soul, Afrobeat, and reggae that is custom to these Iowa City natives. Despite the plan for this humorous music video, it is the spontaneity of live shows that the band enjoys most.

“Everything that happens on stage is in the moment,” said Mike Tallman, the group’s guitarist and vocalist. “Sometimes, we have a night when we’re feeling good, and we take more musical risks than we might otherwise.”

This love of spontaneity explains why Eufórquestra has been a staple at local festivals for a decade, from Summer of the Art’s Jazz Fest and Friday Night Concert Series to the Camp Euforia music festival. But off the outdoor summer stage, the group has performed a Home for the Holidays show for four years, and it will continue the tradition at the Englert Theater, 221 E. Washington St., at 7:30 p.m. Friday with opening bands Cornmeal and the Diplomats of Solid Sound. Tickets for the show are available in advance for $15, $20 at the door.

Diplomats drummer Forrest Heusinkveld said he and his band members are excited to go from attending the holiday show in past years to performing at it this year.

“This event has a really strong community vibe,” he said. “The students are all out of town, so the crowd will mostly be composed of permanent Iowa City residents. It’s a community celebration.”

Despite the growth of Eufórquestra’s fan base outside of Iowa and its relocation to Colorado in 2008, saxophone player and vocalist Austin Zalatel said the musicians make time to return to their roots.

“The crowd in Iowa City is what kind of propelled us to go out and explore,” Zalatel said. “Now, when we come back, the enthusiasm has only increased, so it’s a really powerful experience.”

The band started playing local shows in Iowa City more than 10 years ago, and the musicians are known for their blend of genres from music all over the world. With five full-length albums, they have played approximately 1,000 shows, according to the Eufórquestra website. 

While band members started with more Afrobeat and reggae tunes, the guys have recently explored their love of soul for the most recent album, FIRE. Zalatel said this subtle shift in genres came with a shift in the band’s lineup.

“The fifth album more represents the group of people that we have now,” Zalatel said. “We’ve always kind of done the music we’ve been interested in at the time, and over the last few years, everyone’s been kind of getting into old-school soul and R&B, so we’re doing more of that now.”

The band will play the old-school in its set for the Home for the Holidays show, but it will also include a few old Eufórquestra hits and a couple of surprise guests.

The band has incorporated another special element to the show. Not only will it play a holiday show for entertainment, it will also support the Johnson County Crisis Center’s Food Bank.

“We did a little research to find out who should be the beneficiary,” Tallman said. “We eventually decided to focus on local food banks that often get overlooked.”

Crisis Center communications coordinator Adam Sullivan said the agency is grateful to have an opportunity to bring attention to a good cause from all different kinds of people.

“The Crisis Center is really good at connecting with our current donors,” Sullivan said. “But Eufórquestra has a whole big network here in town that doesn’t exactly connect with our network, and it’s a good chance for people to support something local and something good.”

The concert could help the Crisis Center reach its goal of delivering more than 1 million pounds of food to more than 12,000 local residents this year, something that can’t be said for many music performances.

Heusinkveld said being charitable and going to a concert aren’t completely unrelated things.

“Good music has a way of inspiring people to do good things,” he said. "This event proves that when musicians and artists come together for a good cause, everybody wins.”

Eufórquestra, Home for the Holidays, with Cornmeal and the Diplomats of Solid Sound
When: 8 p.m. Friday
Where: Englert, 221 E. Washington
Admission: $15 in advance, $20 at the door; guests are encouraged to bring canned food for the Crisis Center. A free New Belgium draft or soft drink will be awarded for every four cans donated.

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