Portland cellists at the Fox

Free concert kicks off new Second Saturdays
2010-05-06T00:00:00Z 2014-08-20T09:31:19Z Portland cellists at the FoxColey Ward Cward@azstarnet.com Arizona Daily Star
May 06, 2010 12:00 am  • 

Tucson will celebrate its first Second Saturday with PCP.

No, not the hallucinogenic drug.

Portland Cello Project is a group from Oregon that plays everything from Bach to Bon Jovi, with a little Outkast mixed in for good measure.

The addictive cello outfit will play a free concert Saturday at the Fox Tucson Theatre to mark the start of Second Saturdays, a new monthly party downtown.

Second Saturdays will run through the end of the year and will offer a different free event on the second Saturday of each month, as well as street performers, pop-up vendors and discounts from downtown merchants, restaurants and clubs.

Also on Saturday: a free "The Beatles: Rock Band" competition at the vacant lot on East Congress Street between North Scott and Church Avenues. The competition anticipates the screening of the movie "A Hard Day's Night" at the Cinema La Placita summertime outdoor film series a week from tonight.

The competition will begin around 7, when the sun sets and it is dark enough to see the film projected on the screen. There will be prizes, which as of press time had yet to be determined.

"We're just trying to bring down a lot of great, free entertainment and re-energize Saturday nights," said Luke Cusack, who owns two clubs and one restaurant on Congress Street.

Parking for Second Saturdays, which is sponsored by Providence Service Corporation, is free in the garage at Pennington Street and Sixth Avenue.

This is the second time PCP has played here in the last year. In October, it played North Fourth Avenue hot spot Plush.

On Saturday, local desert rock icon Howe Gelb will join PCP on stage. Adam Shearer from the band Weinland will also participate.

PCP member Douglas Jenkins, 33, talked with Caliente by phone from Portland, Ore.:

How many people are in PCP?

"It's constantly different. There are about 20 people on the roster, and between six and 12 will play in a show depending on the size of the stage and depending on whether we're local or not."

How did you learn cello?

"I started when I was 18. I had already played all kinds of other music. I was renting this room from this woman who was the principal cellist in the town I was living in. She said, 'You should start playing the cello,' and I got three lessons a day from her for a year and a half."

How did PCP come about?

"We thought maybe it'd be fun to play classical music at a rock venue. And we played at the Duck Fir Lounge, which is this hip nightclub here in Portland. It just went from there, turned into this collaborative thing playing pop music and classical and all that."

Do you ever work with an artist whose music is hard to translate to cello?

"Most things do translate pretty easily to cello because the cello has such a wide range, can go so low and so high. Some stuff can be less interesting, because it doesn't feel like there's as much of a pocket for us to get into. But nothing ever felt really bad."

What's your favorite thing about playing with PCP?

"I think the best thing is getting to meet so many different musicians to work with. And sometimes when you work with a band you find yourself in the same mood. When we worked with The Dandy Warhols, that's music I don't listen to all that much, but I was in the mood to make cellos as big as possible."

What's the worst part of being in PCP?

"It's become very unexpectedly a ton of work. It was originally a gimmick of 'let's bring the cellos to the bars.' Now here we are doing six-week national tours and on a record label and making records. The least fun thing is there's a lot of busy work involved with it now. I'm still trying to work my job. I'm not sure if that's the best idea or not. I have a master's degree in education and I teach English as a second language. I'm down to part-time hours this year, which has helped a lot. But I'm still really busy."

What's your most requested song?

"Britney Spears' 'Toxic.'"

If you go

• What: Portland Cello Project with Howe Gelb and Weinland's Adam Shearer.

• When: 7 p.m. Saturday.

• Where: The Fox Tucson Theatre, 17 W. Congress St.

• Cost: Free.

• More info: 2ndsaturdaysdowntown.com, portlandcelloproject.com

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