The Daily Iowan: “Diversity Beats”

December 6, 2007

This article originally appeared in The Daily Iowan.

Camp Euphoria favorites Chicago Afrobeat Project will make another local appearance on Saturday at the Yacht Club, 13 S. Linn St. Intertwining American rock influences with Nigerian drum styles, the band looks to spread messages of diversity and unison through its ensemble. Sometimes featuring as many as 15 members, or as few as seven, only the core members will make it to Iowa City this time around.

“It’s tough to organize a huge band,” drummer Marshall Greenhouse said. “We don’t have 100 percent commitment from every member, which is a good thing. It gives our band huge variety.”

Featuring mostly white musicians, the band members say they’ve received criticism for playing traditionally African music. Despite these critiques, the band donated portions of the money made from its most recent CD, *(A) Move to Silent Unrest*, to Journalists Against AIDS Nigeria.

“Our music song ‘Media Man’ talks about the media’s criticism of us,” Greenhouse said. “But this isn’t music for a specific race, it’s just music that’s good to dance to.”

The full band features bass, keyboards, tenor sax, guitar, drum set, baritone sax, trombone, two secondary percussionists, djembe, talking drum, and two dancers. Their performance extends far beyond recordings and into the visual realm. The heavy Nigerian influences, combined with a jazzy feel, gives the band the vibe of an ethnically charged Coltrane, Roots, Big Band swirl (with a hint of the Doobie Brothers).

This slew of people is no oddity in Afro-beat groups, which even Iowa City has produced. On the local scale, Greenhouse said, he’d seen a lot of Chicago Afrobeat Project’s ideals and styles in the band Euphorequestra, and the two could possibly initiate a joint tour.

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