Ever since Euforquestra formed in Iowa City 16 years ago, it’s been difficult to classify the band. Should the genre-crossing group be filed under funk, rock or world music?
“We’re not worried about that, since we just want people to have fun at our shows and hopefully dance,” vocalist-guitarist Mike Tallman said.
Euforquestra should be labeled altruistic before the band is pigeonholed for its sonic contributions.
When the band returns to Iowa City it’s not just about the music.
“It can’t be just an ordinary concert,” Tallman said. “It’s more than that, since it all started for us there. We’re compelled to give back.”
For the 10th consecutive year Euforquestra is headlining its “Home for the Holidays” show.
“We’re all about showcasing our music, but we want to give back to the community,” Tallman said by phone from Denver. “There are so many organizations doing something like Toys for Tots, but we focus on food since after Thanksgiving a lot of food banks are overlooked. They need help year-round, so we like to do something special for Johnson County.”
Concertgoers can contribute to a canned food drive when Euforquestra performs Friday (12/20) at the Englert Theatre in Iowa City. A portion of ticket sales will be donated to the Community Crisis Services and Food Bank in Iowa City and a silent auction also will benefit that organization.
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“We do all that we can to help,” Tallman said. “We never dreamed that we would be in this position when we started out.”
Euforquestra has never had any parameter.
“We’ll try anything,” Tallman said. “I think I was impacted with that anything-goes style after I fell down the Phish rabbit hole when I saw them for the first time in 1999 in Ames. And then there is the String Cheese Incident. I remember around the time we came together, I saw them and they had a Latin influence in their music and it worked. I saw no reason why we couldn’t mix it up.”
“Some of the guys in the band have more of a jazz background and some have more of a rock background, so our mission statement is to go in a number of different directions and just have the best time creating music that moves us,” Tallman said. Euforquestra has five albums to draw from each show.
Fort Collins, Colo., is where the band — which includes vocalist-keyboardist Matt Wright, bassist Otis Lande, saxophonist Austin Zaletel, trumpeter Matt Bricker and drummer Jeff Peterson — is based.
But Iowa City remains a home away from home. When the band comes back, they encourage area musicians to take a chance on a career in the arts.
“It worked out for us,” Tallman said. “You have to believe and work hard. There are a lot of great musicians in the Iowa City area, and the coolest thing is that the area really fosters the arts. You’re exposed to great music.
“I remember seeing the Derek Trucks Band at the Iowa City Jazz Festival many years ago and just being blown away and inspired. We hope to inspire kids. I remember what it was like when we were starting out and playing places like the Yacht Club. We picked up a lot of support and the reception has always been warm in Iowa City, no matter how cold it is outside.”
• What: Euforquestra, with Flash in a Pan opening
• Where: Englert Theatre, 221 E. Washington St., Iowa City
• When: 7:30 p.m. Friday (12/20)
• Tickets: $20 in advance, $24 show day, general admission; Englert Box Office, (319) 688-2653 or Englert.org/events/
• Band’s website: Euforquestra.com