The Scene: The crowd that showed up to Quixote’s for the night’s Afrobeat fusion was as eclectic as the music itself. Tie-dye sporting neo-hippies, tattooed hipsters, and dread headed beauties all came out to celebrate their love of live music. Some were long time fans and friends of Euforquestra while others were simply strangers seeking refuge in the comfort of like minded folks, as was the case with Justin from Louisiana who stood out with his unusual backpack. Turns out he is traveling the country on his motorcycle and likes to keep his guitar close by; a fine representation of the spirit of Don Quixote.
One of the most inviting features of Quixote’s is the large courtyard, strung with twinkling lights and hosting not only a second stage, but a ping pong table and Paul’s Island Peppapot. Paul serves up smoking hot jerk chicken wings and chicken wraps for a mere $7 and had I realized that this Kingston native was cooking in Quixote’s courtyard every weekend, I would have saved my appetite for a whole plate. I’m looking forward to Paul’s promise that his sauce will soon be bottled and up for sale. On the outdoor stage, the sounds of blues and jamgrass, courtesy of Chaz DePaolo and Whiskey Tango, filled the night air as preludes and interludes to the main event inside.
The Opener: Paa Kow’s By All Means Band, a local group from Boulder, took the main stage around 9:45. Drummer, Paa Kow, originally from Ghana, rhythmically led the eight piece ensemble through a set of Afrobeat-funk fusion. Afrobeat was popularized by Nigerian born Fela Kuti in the late 60’s. It is a fusion of West African high life, American Jazz and funk, traditional African rhythms, and call-and-response vocals. High life, a genre of dance music born in Ghana in the 1930’s, is characterized by jazzy horns and guitars that lead the band. Joel Michael Timm on trombone, Noah Fulton-Beale on trumpet and Roy Coon on Sax and Clarinet covered the horns while guitarist Aaron Fichtner took care of leading the octet when Paa Kow generously permitted. Bassist Andrew Simons and keyboardist Soloman Goldbas brought the funk and jazz component. Justin Fichtner complimented Paa Kow on the rhythms with his triple congo set, and Paa Kaw lead the group in captivating vocals comprised of both English and his native tongue, Fante Twi. A spiritual conversation is what Paa Kow believes music truly is, and I was not the only one eager to listen to what his By All Means Band had to say.
Euforquestra: Originally from Iowa City, Iowa, Euforquestra has called Colorado home for the last 3 years. This Fort Collins based band joyfully brings its progressive, genre-crossing funk fusions to the Colorado music scene. With three full length albums to their name, Euforquestra continues to tour relentlessly, performing 22 shows in 12 states over the next 50 days. They have established a place for themselves on the national scene, playing all over the U.S. at clubs, concert halls, and festivals.
This euphoric orchestra’s 16 song set filled the dance floor with a blend of Afrobeat, Reggae, Afro-Cuban, Funk, and Dub. Mike Tallman’s guitar and Matt Wright’s keys on the opening moments of the explosive Afro-Cuban “Ogun” were like sonic bait that brought folks bouncing back inside from the courtyard. Once on the dance floor, the crowd was attacked from all sides. Austin Zalatel and Ryan Jeter’s saxophones, Ben Soltau’s bass, and Adam Grosso and Matt Grundstad’s percussion worked everyone into a dance frenzy of epic proportion. Then, around four and a half minutes into the song, Matt began leading his crew in an entrancing call and response. While “Ogun” stretched well over ten minutes long, the dancers never wavered. In fact, the energy of both Euforquestra and the audience seemed to feed off each other and grow in intensity. It was the perfect way to hook us and we didn’t want to be released.
Reggae tinged originals like “Cause a Dub” and “Called You” and covers such as Led Zeppelin’s “Fool in the Rain” and Peter Tosh’s “Reggaemylitis” left everyone with permanent grins. Then another incredibly upbeat original song began and I witnessed an interesting phenomenon. A young woman in a raspberry beret (anyone else hearing Prince lyrics here?) started to dance with such wild abandon that, despite her obvious sex appeal, no one felt comfortable interrupting her joyful movement. That, I soon found out, was the power of Euforquestra’s “Soup.” I highly recommend you give it a taste too.
Stage Presence: A
Set / Light show: B-
Note: The band was asked to provide Listen Up Denver! with the lyrics from a song that described their mood in regards to the Quixote’s show. Their choice was taken from Portuguese musician Falamansa’s song “Xote dus Milagres”: “I have everything in my hands but I have nothing and so it’s better to have nothing and to fight for what I would like.” Passionate words, from an equally passionate collection of artists.