LA GRANDE, OR -- An Eastern Oregon band is struggling to recover after nearly all of their instruments were destroyed in a car crash. The group “Slapjack Casualty” plays folk-rock around Union County and beyond. While returning to La Grande after a gig in Baker on July 15th, band leader Brian Mandella and his father-in-law stopped to grab a few pizzas for their families and headed home, "We came around a corner and didn’t really have time to react, it was just a split-second thing," says Mandella, "They swerved, we swerved; we still ended up hitting head-on." Mandella suffered a concussion and doesn’t remember much, "I was the one that took the impact on the road and my father-in-law broke his collarbone right off the bat on the steering wheel."
He says their injuries are now healed but the instruments are not, "We had fiddles that were, you know, a $7,000 fiddle and the drums were $2,000, mandolins, guitars, bass guitars, amps. All the amps were destroyed. So it was just, all the gear just got demolished." Despite the loss of around $10,000 in gear, he maintains a sense of humor, "And to make it worse, we lost all the pizza."
Mandella and the band recently learned insurance will not pay to replace the instruments, "They denied it because they say we’re a commercial entity that makes money and so it’s not really covered." Most of the instruments were from his father-in-law’s private collection and Mandella says the elder band-mate doesn’t accept payment for his performance. All of the members have day jobs and play simply for the love of music. "Yeah, we’re in a band and we have a CD for sale on Amazon. Like I say, it all kind of just goes to me - all 30-cents that we’ve made."
Friends of the band created a GoFundMe page to help raise money to replace the lost gear. Until then, Mandella insists they will keep playing with borrowed instruments.
Photo courtesy of GoFundMe