Camp Euforia, Lone Tree, IA- 7/12-13
Ten years back, afrobeat artist Eufórquestra hosted the first ever Camp Euforia In Lone Tree, IA, just outside of the band’s hometown of Iowa City, IA. It was dubbed as a “fan appreciation party,” an event placed in what was at the time a very young life for the musical act. Fast forward ten years later and both Eufórquestra and Camp Euforia have achieved recognition and appreciation from artists, festival goers, and music fans from all over the country.
Since that weekend back in 2003, Eufórquestra has relocated to Fort Collins, CO, and most notably; transformed into an exceptional musical force with music that blends the genres of rock, funk, jam, reggae, jazz, and of course; their afrobeat roots. They have since played hundreds of shows all over the country, revamped their lineup, and just recently played and hosted one of the most high-quality Midwestern music festivals for the tenth year in a row—Camp Euforia.
Held in the peaceful Eastern Iowa landscape in the middle of beautiful green farmland, Camp Euforia 2013 kicked off on July 12th, and continued on early into the morning of July 14th. Unlike so many music fests held this summer, festival attendees experienced phenomenal weather with no concerns of over-the-top temperatures or performance-canceling storms. Attendees enjoyed comfortable campsites, quality vendors, and most importantly, one of the greatest festival line-ups in Camp Euforia history.
One of the first few artists to begin the festival was string band Pert Near Sandstone who took the main stage with the blue skies still hovering over the farm. The band’s bluegrass-esqe sound eased festival goers into what was going to be a jam-packed weekend, one full of dancing and music of many genres.
Next was reggae-rock group Public Property, an artist that has always been well respected in the Iowa City music community. Public Property provided good vibe and get loose tunes, setting the energetic and lively crowd up for one of the funkiest, well received performances of the festival—Dumpstaphunk.
Led by Ivan Neville, the New Orleans group got the whole festival moving with their jubilant and bass-heavy sound. Not the intense bass bombs often associated with electronic DJ-produced music, but the best kind of bass-filled music—funk music with groovy bass lines and solos that changed tempo all through out the band’s performance.
Dead Larry followed Dumpstaphunk with an energetic performance in the Barn, the smaller stage where the ruckus tends to arise.
At 10pm, the festival’s main attraction and host played their first set of the weekend as Eufórquestra took the main stage to thunderous applause, showing just how much the state of Iowa has grown to love the band.
As a special treat to their fans, Eufórquestra announced just a week prior to the festival that the musical act’s Friday performance would feature the band’s original seven piece lineup, the first time a reunion of the original lineup has happened in years. Current and original members: Guitarist Mike Tallman, Sax Player Austin Zalatel, and Bassist Adam Grosso led the reunited seven piece group through songs that touched on the entire history of Eufórquestra, both classics and more recent compositions.
Since 2003, Eufórquestra has always brought something special to Camp Euforia including: a spot-on reenactment of the Talking Heads’ famous Stop Making Sense concert DVD, an entire Beck cover set, and a set dedicated to the soundtrack to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, (which was nodded to when the band flowed into a “Pure Imagination” jam later in the set).
Eufórquestra kept the crowd moving for a full two hours, a set that displayed how the band has been one of the best at getting an audience up off their feet to dance through sheer musical talent.
One of the last artists to close Friday’s lineup was Chicago’s Family Groove Company, who provided the festival with a high-energy rock performance, conducted through excellent improvisation. Frequent to playing Iowa crowds, Janis and company ripped through FGC classics like “Ready Fire Aim” and “We Could.” Later in their set, the Chicago based band brought out Camp Euforia alums Kris and Wavy Dave from Cornmeal, who came to Camp Euforia as “Artists at Large.”
To begin Saturday’s live performances were a slew of great local Iowa artists including Chasing Shade, Fire Sale, and a band that has become very well known to Iowa City’s jam scene in only about a year—Zeta June. Zeta June showcased their excellent jamming capabilities as they took a normally mellow Pink Floyd number, “Comfortably Numb,” and induced a great, psychedelic yet upbeat jam into the song.
Around 5:30pm, Brooklyn, New York’s Pimps of Joytime picked up the funk where Dumpstaphunk left off, beginning what was to be the final night of the festival. Between Pimps of Joytime and Eufórquestra’s final set was some top-notch bluegrass music provided by Michigan natives, Greensky Bluegrass.
Greensky Bluegrass has become one of the most popular bluegrass acts over the past few years. The Michigan group showcased their great songwriting skills during their Camp Euforia set, playing songs through the history of band’s impressive catalog. Greensky Bluegrass included a cover of the Band’s “Atlantic City,” which ended the set for one of the biggest names that played at this year’s festival.
Taking the stage in front of no doubt the biggest gathered crowd of the weekend, Eufórquestra played their final set for Camp Euphoria’s tenth anniversary. Featuring Eufórquestra’s now current lineup, the Fort Collins residents played songs from all parts of their diverse repertoire, including, “The Price is Right” and “Soup.” For most of their final set, vocalist Kim Dawson joined the band to contribute vocals, adding her soulful voice to an already explosive musical performance. The band also debuted a new song, written by keyboardist Matt Wright, reinforcing the fact that Eufórquestra now has a new studio album on the way, one that is being produced by the String Cheese Incident’s Kyle Hollingsworth.
In an age where it seems you can now find a music festival in any corner of the country and anytime, the weekend showed why Camp Euforia is a unique musical festival that can’t be duplicated.
Before leaving the stage, Tallman thanked the crowd and everyone that helped “Camp Euforia 10 the best it’s ever been!“ Judging by the way the crowd responded to Mr. Tallman’s kind words, you could sense everyone in attendance agreed.