The members of the reggae/jam act Euforquestra moved to Fort Collins, Colo., four years ago, but they remain Iowa boys at heart.
The quintet still has a lot of family around Des Moines and Iowa City, so it only makes sense that it would come back to visit over the holidays. And while here, why not play a couple shows.
Friday marks the band’s third annual Home for the Holidays concert in Des Moines (it’s also playing one Saturday in Iowa City). The Des Moines show is a benefit for the Food Bank of Iowa. The past two concerts have raised more than $6,000 and 600 pounds of food for the charity.
Besides family, the holidays are also a good time to spend with friends. Joining Euforquestra for the Des Moines show will be Mr. Baber’s Neighbors and Bright Giant. Expect to see members of the various groups dropping in and out of each others’ sets Friday night.
“We usually try to get people to sit in with us,” guitarist Mike Tallman said. “I used to play in Baber’s for a long time, and they’re still some of my best friends. We’ll probably get Jeff (Blanchard) to sit in for a tune or two. We haven’t worked out any special themed sets or arrangements for holiday tunes, but if you’re paying attention we’ll throw in some teases of Christmas melodies.”
Euforquestra has been doing a few themed shows in recent months, specifically performing as a Beck cover band for a series of shows. The idea got its start at the band’s annual multiday summer music festival, Camp Euforia, in Lone Tree, Ia. Since then it’s been playing more and more Beck cover shows, with a focus on songs from “Midnight Vultures,” though Tallman thinks a show last week in Denver was likely the last playing the material.
“We’ll probably keep some of the songs in our repertoire, but I don’t know that we’ll keep doing the full tribute,” Tallman said. “We just thought a lot of Beck songs would translate well to our band. There were a lot we could put our own twist on. ‘Midnight Vultures’ worked out best, because there were a lot of horns and upbeat party music.”
But for now Euforquestra is back to focusing on its own music. Earlier this year the group released its first live album, “Let Us In,” featuring songs from the last three studio albums. The band recorded nine different shows, including stops in Iowa City, Des Moines, Denver and Boulder, but ended up using material from shows in Fort Collins and Davenport for the actual release.
“Let Us In” was Euforquestra’s first album in three years, and while it captured what the band is doing live very well, the recording included mostly time-tested songs fans were already familiar with. Tallman thinks the group will be headed into the studio for a proper album in 2013.
“We’re all really happy with how the live album turned out, but we’re getting antsy to record another studio album,” Tallman said. “We’re itching to try some stuff out, because we’ve added some new members since we recorded ‘Soup.’ Hopefully it will be sooner, rather than later.”
Next year also will mark the 10th annual staging of Camp Euforia, and the band is already making plans for the summer festival. The 2012 edition was the best attended to date, and Euforquestra wants to build on that momentum and keep drawing jam fans to its old stomping ground near Iowa City.
“Camp Euforia will definitely be the centerpiece of our year,” Tallman said. “Hopefully we can do a decent amount of touring and keep working to connect with other bands.
“Aside from that we’re going to keep plugging away and doing what we do.”
Euforquestra's Home for the Holidays III
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: Wooly’s, 504 E. Locust St.
Cost: $10 in advance, $15 day of show