Portland Cello Project @ Old Rock House, St. Louis, MO

Words and pictures by Duane Clawson
Sometimes here at MTC, we get offers to cover bands that are just too intriguing to pass up.  So when Angie Carlson at Propeller Publicity asked if I would like to cover a group called Portland Cello Project, I said, "how can I resist with a name like that?"   The Project began, as one would guess, in Portland, Oregon and was the brainchild of Tony Rogers, who eventually left the group and turned creative control over to Douglas Jenkins.  Jenkins continues to carry the torch of the original mission statement of the group which is as follows:  1. to bring cello music to places you normally wouldn’t hear it.  2. to play music on the cello you wouldn't normally hear played on the instrument.  3. To build bridges across all musical communities by bringing a diverse assortment of musical collaborators on stage with them.  Through this mission statement, the Project brings an ever-revolving door of cellists, guest musicians, musical arrangements, and a repertoire that includes over 800 pieces of music.  The group has featured up to twelve cellists on the same stage at one time but tonight’s show featured five cellists and the drumming talents of Rachel Blumberg, formerly of the Decemberists.

The floor of the Old Rock House set the mood as round tables, covered with tablecloths and centered candles, produced a romantic glow.  This show was part of the Listening Room Series which transforms the usually open floor into an intimate space for your listening pleasure.  No musical stone was left unturned as the Project performed everything from original compositions, covers of classical pieces, and the music of Kanye West.  The mood of the evening was further enhanced by the continual use of soft, red and blue stage lighting.  The Project utilized technology to the fullest as pieces of old fashioned sheet music were replaced by iPads that provided a note for note account of the groups chosen set list.  Jenkins plays the role of MC during their performance, stepping to the microphone every couple of songs to serve up a musical history lesson or relay a humorous antidote.  Jenkins' introduction, “This next piece is by the great Texas composer, Pantera”, received copious amounts of laughter as the group prepared to play “Mouth For War”; which I might add, brought a truly unimagined dimension to Pantera’s music.  If the Portland Cello Project is gracing a stage in your neighborhood, go check them out.  Kayne West never sounded so good!  Pictures of the show are below:

Contributed by Duane Clawson
Portland Cello Project @ Old Rock House, St. Louis, MO Portland Cello Project @ Old Rock House, St. Louis, MO Reviewed by Scott Rowe, Editor on 1:54:00 PM Rating: 5

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