Local Americana group plucks, sings and strums at Acoustic Cafe

The Acoustic Cafe showcased the mixed-genre music of Eau Claire group Eggplant Heroes Saturday night

More stories from Faith Hultman


Photo by Fatih Hultman

Eggplant Heroes, a local Americana group, performed to a packed house 7-10 p.m. Saturday night at Acoustic Cafe.

From Charlotte Bronte to Jimi Hendryx, Eggplant Heroes explored it all in an expansive array of original songs and covers last Saturday night at Acoustic Cafe.

The group, which the members describe as “Americana,” or “a blend of folk, blues, bluegrass and country,” performed songs from both of their albums, along with covers from artists such as The Tokens and Jimi Hendryx to a multigenerational crowd that filled every table in the coffee shop.

Duffy Duyfhuizen, who contributes vocals, guitar, harmonica and banjo to the group, and one of the original members of the band, said Eggplant Heroes started around 2003 with three UW-Eau Claire professors in the English department.

Duyfhuizen, along with Max Garland, who provides vocals and guitar, and Joel Pace, who also contributes vocals and plays the trumpet and who was not present Saturday night, were the original three members, Duyfhuizen said.

Olaf Lind, who sings and plays violin and guitar; along with Lucas Fischer, who plays electric baritone, guitar and percussion; Caleb Horne, who plays the mandolin and Dan Zerr, who sings lead vocals, were added to the group in later years.

“It’s a really fun group to play with,” Lind said. “We bring together a lot of musicians from different genres.”

The crowd, which filled the coffee shop with cozy chatter and warm applause, responded to the music enthusiastically, occasionally shouting out a “yee-haw” in response to a particularly rousing tune.

Mandy Janz, a first-year psychology student, said she regularly comes to Acoustic Cafe to drink coffee and listen to music. She thinks supporting local artists and musicians is important, she said.

“If this group comes back I would definitely listen to them again,” Janz said. “I like to listen to whoever’s here.”

During the performance, the group pulled a community member they knew out of the crowd to play with them, revealing the easy, flexible nature of the band.

Although many of the members are in numerous musical groups, Lind said Eggplant Heroes is special because of its “permanently modular nature,” and as long as Duyfhuizen and Garland are present, Eggplant Heroes is present.

“The beginning of the band was very literary in an interesting way,” Lind said. “A lot of the songs that we did were pieces of novels, or pieces of poetry, that we then put to music.”

The band played various songs with such literary references to the enthusiastic audience, including lyrics by Charlotte Bronte, James Joyce and William Shakespeare.

“It’s so much fun to play with these guys,’ Duyfhuizen said, “because they’re all incredibly talented and it all just meshes together so nicely.”

Eggplant Heroes performs at the Acoustic Cafe the last Saturday of every month, as well as at various events and locations around the Eau Claire area. Their music is available at bandcamp.com.