Arts & Entertainment

Sax man will get by with a little help from friends

Barry Bersgtrom has entertained thousands with his jazzy sax for more than 30 years as a professional musician with the Harry James Orchestra as well as here in the Tri-Cities where he grew up.

But kidney and hernia ailments that required a few surgeries laid him low this year and kept him from making a living with his music.

Tri-City musicians decided to hold a benefit concert for their friend and colleague.

The concert is from noon to 5 p.m. Nov. 6 at the Emerald of Siam restaurant, in the Uptown Shopping Center in Richland. Admission is free but donations are welcome.

"I've known Barry since 1985 as a personal friend and (musical) colleague," said Bill McKay, dean of arts and humanities at Columbia Basin College. "Barry is a consummate artist and musician, dedicated, passionate and remains true to his art."

Steve Haberman and Doug Rice were happy to jump in and try to help.

"Every time I played with Barry it made me remember my younger days Back East playing jazz with excitement and urgency," Haberman said.

Bergstrom is overwhelmed by the generosity of his fellow musicians and wishes he could jam with them at the benefit concert, but he can't under doctor's orders.

"I tried to play a few gigs here and there, but every time I did the pain was extreme that I felt like falling over," he said. "The surgeon told me I must not play my horns because of the abdominal pressure it causes."

That leaves him with no source of income and only a moderate health care plan, he said. But even so, he says his problems are nothing compared to the other troubles in the world today, he said.

"I'm just an old, broke saxophone player with kidney stones and a double hernia," he joked. "But I do so appreciate everyone's efforts to come to my aid.

"It's been frustrating dealing with the pain, but not being able to play by horns is worse."

*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; doneal@tricityherald.com

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