A string quartet gets together with an Americana band to benefit a crisis response program for people in need

By Randi Bjornstad

There’s no need to choose on Sept. 1 or 2 between a ticket to hear the melodic strains of the Delgani String Quartet or the robust sound of The Western Tanagers’ Americana repertoire, because the two groups are coming together to play two benefit performances, one in Eugene and the other in the historic town of Oakland, north of Roseburg.

The beneficiary of all this music-making is CAHOOTS, the White Bird Clinic’s mobile crisis response unit that responds day and night to people in need in the Eugene-Springfield area.

“Delgani has been wanting for awhile to collaborate with a group with a totally different musical genre,” cellist Eric Alterman said. ” One of the members of our board of directors knows one of the musicians from The Western Tanagers, and the two groups started talking.”

Members of the Delgani String Quartet include, left to right, Wyatt True, Jannie Wey, Eric Alterman and Kimberlee Uwate

Violinist Wyatt True, the founder of the Delgani String Quartet, paid a visit to The Western Tanagers, guitarist Alan Phillips said, and everyone was enthusiastic.

“We’ll probably do some Cajun tunes on our end,” Phillips said. “The quartet will do some of their favorites, and then we’ll probably do a jam-style performance with both groups.”

Some of the titles that have been thrown out as possibilities by The Western Tanagers include “Ashokan Farewell,” a 1982 composition by American folk musician Jay Ungar. The popular waltz served for years as the closing piece at the Ashokan Fiddle & Dance camps run by Ungar and his wife, Molly, in Upstate New York.

The Western Tanagers consists of, left to right, John Hicks, Sam Jones, Scoop McGuire, Alan Phillips and Jim Dotson

It’s been arranged for string quartet as well as for bluegrass, so it’s the type of music that’s a perfect fit for the generally divergent styles of Delgani and the Tanagers, Phillips said.

For the nonprofit string quartet’s part, they’re hoping to combine on a new gypsy-style piece they’ve come across, “which isn’t the usual style that we do, but the middle section is perfect for improv, so it would be fun,” Alterman said. “We’re really open to trying new things — our only hesitation is that we have so much on our plate already — but we thought this sounded like a good thing to do, especially to help CAHOOTS.”

Both groups are excited to perform on the stage at Tsunami Books in Eugene, tucked in a back, bookshelf-filled room that accommodates an audience of about 80.

The MarshAnne Landing Winery in Oakland is the other location for the weekend shows, suitable because it also offers a space that is larger than a house concert but still intimate enough to accommodate acoustic sound.

The bookstore has a no-host wine and beer bar in its performance area, while the ticket price at the winery includes food and wine.

The Delgani String Quartet is opening its third season. In addition to Alterman and True, the group also includes violinist Jannie Wey and violist Kimberlee Uwate.

As a nonprofit group, the quartet not only performs four concerts during the season but offers a variety of community outreach activities, including summer music camps that provide scholarships for young players who need financial assistance.

The Western Tanagers are a new group in town, although its members are all longtime musicians. Besides Phillips, they include banjo player Jim Dotson, Scoop McGuire on bass, fiddle player Sam Jones and John Hicks on mandocello, an instrument that combines qualities of both mandolin and cello. However, most of the musicians play multiple instruments.

Compared with the Delgani String Quartet, “We’re a bit looser in our organization,” Phillips quipped. “We’re more in the form of, we’ll play for anyone who wants to hire us.”

The members of the band are a subset of a larger group that has been coming together every Friday night for decades to jam together, playing pieces across the musical spectrum, he said.

“It might be Dixieland, Irish, Cajun, electric blue, hard rock, who knows,” he said. “The people who come call the tune and we all play it.”


What: The Delgani String Quartet and The Western Tanagers play two multi-genre performances to benefit CAHOOTS, the White Bird clinic’s mobile crisis response unit

When: 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 1 in Eugene and 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 2 in Oakland

Where: Tsunami Books, 2585 Willamette St. in Eugene; MarshAnne Landing Winery at 175 Hogan Road in Oakland

Tickets for Tsunami Books: $15 in advance, available at the bookstore or by calling 541-345-8986 to reserve, or $20 at the door

Tickets for MarshAnne Landing Winery: $30 includes food and wine; advance reservation required by calling 541-459-7998



Randi Bjornstad

Has more than 30 years' journalism experience after a previous stint as a land-use planner. Got first rejection slip at age 11, but the editor wrote an encouraging note. Lives in Eugene, Ore., with husband-and-photographer Paul Carter, adorable dog Tallulah and quirky cats Pearl, Audrey, Garbo, Harry and Ozma.

randi has 175 posts and counting.See all posts by randi

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