Posts Tagged ‘Anna Fritz’

New Album from Anna Fritz of the Portland Cello Project

Friday, January 4th, 2013

Anna Fritz CD Release Show – Thursday, January 17 – The Secret Society

Portland, OR – Long-time core member of the Portland Cello Project, Anna Fritz, will be releasing her new solo album “The Gospel of Tree Bark,” on Thursday January 17 at 8 p.m. at The Secret Society in Portland. Closing out the evening will be the sing-a-long carnival antics of The Saloon Ensemble.

Fritz wrote most of her new album, “The Gospel of Tree Bark,” in a little cabin in Southern Oregon, nestled within the coastal mountain range of Coos County. Two small creeks ran through the camp, and it was the first time in years that Fritz felt like she was in a place that was truly quiet, with only the sounds of the water, birds and wind to lull her to sleep.

“I had a strong connection with a place that felt sacred; the land all around me was an inspiration, and central to the creative process,” Fritz explained.

And so emerged one of the primary themes of her album: exploring the natural world as a place of comfort and spirituality, longing for this connection within an urban landscape. The video for the title track, produced and filmed by David Waingarten, depicts her waking in the morning in the city to find a string that she follows deep into the woods, where she is free to be her most natural self, finding music in everything around her. The video is a stunning work of art in itself, and helped Fritz to raise over $15,000 through Kickstarter to fund the recording of the record.

Her voice on “Tree Bark” hints at the vulnerable tremolo of Mira, with a contrasting soaring soprano like Sinead O’Connor’s. Musically, cello takes center stage. Fritz has been a core member of the Portland Cello Project since its inception, which has given her a sense of “freedom through limitation.” While most singer/songwriterly records are fleshed out by a rainbow of tonal palettes, “Tree Bark” is arranged for cello trios and quartets. The result is a style that blends Fritz’s orchestral sensibilities, with songs born from the folk rock tradition, layered with tasteful drums and percussion by Ji Tanzer. Jason Wells (March Fourth Marching Band, Trashcan Joe) recorded and produced the album, and his expertise and affection for Fritz’s music resulted in a record with equal parts professional polish and earthy luster.

Fritz’s first solo effort, “Wake,” released in 2005, was a much more overtly political album, oftentimes bordering on angry. Since then, Fritz has grown up a lot, both as a musician and as a person. On “Tree Bark,” anger, frustration and alienation are sublimated into songs that are experimental and playful, sweet and sad. One of the most poignant moments on the album is during Fritz’s rewrite of “The Water is Wide,” where she sings of the struggles of a transsexual lover, a boy trapped in the body of a girl. As the French Horn soars over the background, each verse unfolds the struggle: “And so began my true love’s journey to claim his body for his own, to find a way to bend and shape it, to find a way to call it home.” The familiar chorus takes this story—starring an otherwise invisible member of our society—and makes his story universal, inviting the listener to remember that hard times can be overcome with the help of another.

Other musicians featured on the album include David Waingarten (electric guitar), Alison Ippolito on piano, Samantha Kushnick on cello, and Leander Star on French horn. Album art by Aremy Stewart features a woman smiling peacefully, laying on the ground, her body blending into the earth and roots of a tree. The artwork, just like the chorus of the title track, ties the spiritual and natural themes of the album together. On the chorus of “Gospel,” Fritz sings, “Life is a prayer in the gospel of tree bark. There’s a voice that whispers in the branches at night. It says life has gone on and will go on forever and you’re just a droplet, a small beam of light.”

For more information about Anna Fritz and “The Gospel of Tree Bark,” visit

Recording a new album in Portland, OR

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

Doug Jenkins manning the board at Scenic Burrows.

I spent the days between Christmas and New Year’s recording album #4 with Doug Jenkins, the creative director of the Portland Cello Project. I met Doug through Anna Fritz who played cello on my first and second albums and on this one too! I got to know Doug after he invited me on a short tour with the PCP around the Pacific Northwest. We talked recording during one particularly long car ride, and three months later I was laying down tracks at his house. What great fate!

In four days we managed to record drums, bass and acoustic guitar and vocals for most of the twelve songs I wrote for this project. Doug is even more of a workaholic than I am, and he often pulled off 14-hour days between tracking and writing arrangements for the various musicians we had sitting in. I am already thrilled at how things are sounding. Doug completely understands the aesthetic I am going for and is truly a genius behind the board.

This was kind of random: we had to practice in a hotel room the night before going into the studio. This is John V. at the White Eagle. Thanks for the room?

The first day we hung with drummer John Vecchiarelli and bassist Seth Lorinczi at Scenic Burrows, this great semi-secret spot in SW created by John Askew and Adam Selzer and friends as a mixing studio. John plays with just about everyone around town, and Seth has a band with his wife called the Golden Bears and also plays with Corin Tucker.

Day two and three might as well be erased from memory as it was a lot of high pressure trying to play guitar perfectly to a click track. And then day four, things got really fun. Trumpet player John Whaley showed up and created some tear jerking and also very happy parts on songs. Anna Fritz (cello), and Lucia Conrad and Justin Mackewich (violins) came by and played Doug’s arrangements with just the right emotion. We added vocals later that night and that is when the magic started to happen. It’s really coming together.

I managed to get a cross-country ski in at Ray Benson Sno-Park in Sisters on the way home. A much needed decompression and reconnection with the outdoors.

We still have three tracks that need guitar, so I’m putting in the time now to get it right. I’m sure this will really help clean up my stage performance too.

Thanks to Doug for all your great advice and talent as a producer and arranger!

Anna Fritz, Lucia Conrad, Justin Mackewich

John Vecchiarelli and the Press Club in Portland, OR

Saturday, November 13th, 2010

John smiles big as Ali enters through the door of the room, and walks across "the stage."

I first met John V. at an open mic in Portland about ten years ago and I immediately loved his music. Open mics are riddled with the three-chord wonder types, and John could really play guitar. It was so lush and complex, it was like he was playing the piano. His background as a drummer has definitely made for some more “mathy” song constructions that are also a refreshing change to the one, four, five songs of many solo singer/songwriters.

I have been looking around for a drummer to record on my next album, and Doug Jenkins of the Portland Cello Project recommended John as he plays with the PCP on occasion. This presented a cool opportunity to reunite with John and play a show together and make plans for future recording.

The Press Club...

He offered me a spot on a bill at the Press Club, which is a cool little room on Clinton Street in Portland that is known to have great music and great wine. (Both are true!) John has had a pretty rough week and was even considering skipping the performance, but as more and more friends and fans filtered through the door, I think he felt stronger about playing and put on a cathartic performance. I could tangibly feel the emotion pouring out of him and into the room. It was pretty dark actually, but a reminder of how powerful music can be at communicating things when there are no words left.

We had a great rest of the night and I could sense John was feeling lighter and happier to be surrounded by such great friends including: Ali Ippolito, the women who played piano on my recording of “Dancer,” Anna Fritz who played on my first two albums and is a core member of the Portland Cello Project, Emma Wood and Kevin Jackson, also of the PCP, Leonard Mynx who performed later that night and Mike of Shoeshine Blue (also an open mic friend from 10 years ago.) All and all, definitely some of the movers and shakers of the Portland music scene. Thanks for coming out ya’all!

Anna Fritz, Emma Wood, Kevin Jackson of the PCP

All she ever wanted was to wear his hat.