Locally loved band returns to Acoustic Café

Eggplant Heroes showcased a variety of songs on Saturday night

More stories from Jessie Meyen


Photo by Kar Wei Cheng

Eggplant Heroes performed to a loyal audience at 7 p.m. on Saturday night at Acoustic Café.

Acoustic Café was particularly crowded Saturday night as eclectic musical sounds from a local band filled the cozy coffee shop on Barstow Street.

The coffee shop is known for creating a relaxed environment, while bringing in new artists for locals to enjoy. Acoustic café knew it found something special when Eggplant Heroes first took the stage.  

The group, which first formed in 2003, consists of two retired English professors along with one current English professor from UW-Eau Claire; Duffy Duyfhuizen on guitar, harmonica, banjo and vocals, Max Garland on guitar and vocals, and Joel Pace on vocals and trumpet.

With the band’s growing success came four more members: Olaf Lind on vocals, violin and guitar, Lucas Fisher on electric baritone guitar and percussion, Dan Zerr on vocals and base and Caleb Horne on mandolin, who could not make it to Saturday’s set.

Duyfhuizen said he would describe the group’s style of music as Americana. The band performed multiple original songs and covers by artists from a plethora of genres with the help of their fans singing along in the crowd.

“We’ve got folk roots to some degree, but we do some gospel, some country, some blues, and some rock and roll,” Duyfhuizen said. “We’ve got something for everyone because of our multigenerational blend.”

Community members, students, fans from all over the state and UW-Eau Claire staff members ordered hoagies and coffee as the group started their sound check. Every booth and table was occupied by the time the band started their second song. People even stood in the back of the café to hear the extensive range of music.  

Duyfhuizen says the reason why they enjoy the Acoustic Café so much, is because it has a relaxed vibe and the audience is more open to letting the group experiment.

“Since we often don’t have a lot of time to meet up as a group and rehearse, this gives us an opportunity in a bit of a lower pressure venue to try new things,” Duyfhuizen said. “This is where we like to try new songs.”

Though the group already has a major following in Eau Claire, the Acoustic Café has assisted them in expanding their audience, as they repeatedly perform at the coffee shop. Students who often come to the coffee shop to study have taken notice of the Americana band.

Peggie Alexander, a first-year nursing student at UW-Eau Claire, said she came to the café to enjoy some ice cream with her friends, but decided to stay once she heard Eggplant Heroes.

“I think their sound is really cool especially in the café,” Alexander said. “I would definitely come back next month to hear them play again.”

At the end of the set the band sold CD’s of their two latest albums: “After this Time” and “Better Weather.” The group’s music is available at bandcamp.com and on Spotify.

Eggplant Heroes performs at Acoustic Café on the last Saturday of every month, but can also be heard any time that there is an open mic event in downtown Eau Claire.