Tiffany Frandsen | Deputy Managing Editor
On Saturday night, a posse of cellists (and a drummer) is playing a conglomerate of indie, hip hop, jazz and pop covers at The State Room. The Portland Cello Project is on tour to showcase their new album, an homage to Elliott Smith, called To E.S. but are coming with original songs and covers in tow.
“We do a lot of covers of pop tunes, jazz tunes, heavy metal, hip hop, rock, just a really wide spectrum. But what we try to do is have it be our own arrangements, so you can’t just go hear another cello group play what we play,” said Diane Chaplin, one of the PCP cellists.
The 2013-released album is no regular tribute album. Released for the tenth anniversary of Elliott Smith’s death, six of the tracks on the album are songs that Elliott Smith wrote, but never released. PCP knows the keeper of Elliott Smith’s archives, Larry Crane, through the studio they record with sometimes, Jackpot Studio.
“Taking the Fall” is one of the songs that Elliott Smith had recorded but not released (then in 2005, the track and 21 others were leaked on a compilation called From a Basement On The Hill II). PCP included the song on their 2010 album, Thousand Words. As a Portland icon, Elliott Smith has a “lot of meaning, musically,” to PCP.
After recording Elliott Smith’s “Between the Bars,” the group took to Christmas Valley in Central Oregon, climbed down Crack in the Ground (a 70-foot deep volcanic groove) to record the music video.
Massive though their repertoire is, the group tours with only about 30 songs. Some of their discography comes from special shows. Much of those songs are never recorded. They throw dance parties in the summer; they rehearse and perform three hours of hip hop and pop and then never touch the songs again.
“That’s the thing about music. Music is a one-time event. You can record a show and listen to it again, but in a sense, it mostly exists in the moment of being there. It’s just more exciting to be there than to hear it later in a recording,” said Chaplin.
Portland Cello Project are playing at The State Room in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Feb. 28, at 9:00 p.m. Tickets are on sale at TheStateRoom.com.
Tiffany is the Deputy Managing Editor for Spring 2015. Follow her on twitter @tiffany_mf