Ontario’s Chopped Liver, a contemporary bluegrass trio based in Toronto and Hamilton, is preparing to release their second album in November called D.B. Cooper, with a second single available today in advance of the full project.
The band typically focuses on their original material, but for this one they have reached back for a reworking of the Mel Tillis classic, Matterhorn, so indelibly recorded by The Country Gentlemen in the early 1970s. You might wonder how anyone could hope to improve on the Gentlemen’s version, and you could be right, but the three players that make up Chopped Liver simply offer this tribute after their own fashion.
As a northern, urban-based band, their singing immediately takes on a different flavor, but guitarist and lead vocalist Andrew Ivens says that wanted to further mold the song to their distinctive sound.
“The Country Gentlemen are gigantic for all of us. The way they approach storytelling, along with their style of vocal harmony have always been a huge influence on our playing and writing. We’ve played Matterhorn the way they did it on all those records live for a while now, but wanted to change it up and put our own spin on it for the studio. We settled on adding a few chords here and there, and altering the drive with the clawhammer banjo. Since we recorded this album live-off-the-floor, there are a lot of playful and improvised musical interactions between us in the group. That really exemplifies what I love so much about playing with these guys.”
Have a listen and see what you think.
Andrew is supported in Chopped Liver by Victor Vrankulj on banjo and Adam Vrankulj on bass. All three share vocal duties.
The next record is expected on November 24, the anniversary of the 1971 hijacking where a man identified as Dan Cooper took control of a Northwest Orient Airlines flight, demanded and received $200,000 in cash, and leapt from the plane with the money and a parachute, never to be seen again.
Andrew says that the band took the audacious nature of Cooper’s feat as their inspiration for this new project, including a song about his daring escapade 50 years ago.
“The title track D.B. Cooper, tells the story of one of the band’s favorite fugitive folk heroes who eluded the FBI with a suitcase full of money, and jumped from a commercial airplane in the middle of a stormy night above the Pacific Northwest in 1971. To this day, his identity has not been discovered and whether or not he survived the jump has remained a mystery. We tried to tap into that outrageously brazen attitude that this heist would have taken as a ‘jumping off’ point for a lot of the writing on this album.”
D.B. Cooper will be available on November 24 wherever you stream or download music online, and on CD directly from the band’s web site.