Culturally Infused Jam Band Presents Music With Meaning

Photo by Tobin Voggesser

By Emily Clingman

For a bunch of laidback guys from the Midwest, Eufórquestra, a band of seven members, delivers a musical punch to hip-shaking audiences around the country.

“We really just love playing groove-oriented dance music,” said Mike Tallman, guitarist and vocalist for the band. “We don’t focus on one particular genre.”

Groovy it is – the band’s sound could be described as a bold and energetic combination of African and Latin rhythms, funk, reggae, jazz, bluegrass and whatever else sounds good to throw in the mix. However described, Eufórquestra creates its own version of world music.

The Fort Collins-based band is a well-established favorite here in Colorado and plays more than 100 cross-country shows a year. The band’s success doesn’t come without a good story.

Originally formed as Euforia, a few of the original band members played together in high school in Des Moines, Iowa. To keep the band together, they decided to move to Iowa City and attend University of Iowa. There, they picked up a few more members and established themselves as Eufórquestra in 2003.

“At first, we took whatever opportunities came our way,” Tallman laughed. “We didn’t care. We played anywhere.”

Persistence paid off, and soon they were booking weekend gigs across the region. Eventually they started officially touring and played in Colo-rado a few times. Enamored with the sunny state, Eufórquestra’s members collectively decided that they wanted to move out here to further their career.

“We were well received each time we played here,” Tallman said. “And Fort Collins seemed like a good fit for us. It’s a laidback college town like Iowa City.”

“It didn’t happen right away, of course,” said percussionist Matt Grunstad. “It took a few years of planning.”

With a few moving trucks and cars, four girlfriends, a kiddo, two dogs, four cats and one turtle in tow, the band and its posse made The Fort their home in 2008 – the adventure just beginning.

The Meaning Behind the Music
Eufórquestra has three albums to date, the latest being a live recording with some never-released songs and covers with original twists. Its style can be described as jam band meets Afrobeat. Each member’s diverse musical upbringing cont-ributes to the group’s unique collaboration of talent.

Tallman, for example, recalls that his interest in grunge music as a kid inspired him to play the guitar. He then dug into his father’s collection of classic rock music and realized the endless possibilities. Grunstad and drummer Adam Grosso studied music in Cuba while in college, which influenced their interest in Latin music. American artist Paul Simon (notably famous for his membership in the popular folk duo, Simon and Garfunkel) is also an inspiration to the band, as he sought to incorporate music from many cultures, especially African, into his solo music career.

It’s not just musical styles that inspire the band’s song creations. Each member also has a strong interest in music history, especially that of traditional folk music from other countries that has existed throughout the generations.

“American music culture is not very old,” Tallman said. “Many of our country’s music genres stem from other cultures. We like to figure out where music comes from. As an outsider, you have to do more than listen to a few songs. There’s always an interesting story behind it.”

When asked if they ever feel out of place or disrespectful for incorporating traditional music from other countries into their contemporary American performances, Grunstad explained that people legitimately connected to those historical genres are mostly encouraging to the band’s efforts and take it as a compliment.

“In Cuba, for instance, artists don’t own their music,” Grunstad explained. “They don’t receive royalties or claim their creations as personal property in the same way that American musicians do. So, the more opportunities to get their music heard, the better.”

“Also, incorporating folk music traditionally passed down from generation to generation into new presentations – like the American trend of borrowing rhythms or riffs from other cultures – is sometimes the only way to preserve that musical culture or to introduce it to the world.”

From Tradition to Progression
Eufórquestra’s formula works. The band has gained popularity in Colorado and all around the country. The members keep it fresh by consistently trying new things in rehearsal and passing the stage spotlight from member to member, as many are vocalists as well. Playing with bands like the Motet and The Kyle Hollingsworth Band, Eufórquestra has made a name for itself in the national music industry.

“Our fans are musically versed enough to appreciate what we do,” said Austin Zaletel, who plays the alto saxophone. “They also love to get down and dance, which makes our shows fun for them.”

So, if you haven’t done it yet, get your boogie on with Eufórquestra. Go to euforquestra.com to watch videos, download free music, read the blog and check for upcoming shows.

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