What: The Newberry Event Music and Arts Festival to Defeat MS

When: Thursday through Sunday

Where: DiamondStone Guest Lodges, 16693 Sprague Loop, La Pine

Cost: $145 for full festival, $100 for Saturday and Sunday only, $50 Friday only, $70 Saturday only, $25 Sunday only, $40 for full festival for ages 13-17, $15 for single-day pass for ages 13-17, free for Thursday only and kids younger than 13. Tickets can be ordered online at newberryevent.com (plus fees) or in-person at Sunday Guitars, Green Knottz Dispensary in La Pine or at KNCP-FM/La Pine Chamber of Commerce offices.

Contact: newberryevent.com or 541-536-3600

Tal Wilkenfeld’s recent foray into vocal songwriting isn’t so much a reinvention as a reintroduction.

While it’s true the Australian-born prodigy made her name in music over the last decade-plus as a session bassist for artists including Jeff Beck, Prince, Herbie Hancock and more, she started as a songwriter at 14. After moving to the U.S., Wilkenfeld switched from guitar to bass and focused on her instrumental prowess, spending time on New York City’s jazz scene before receiving her big break — sitting in with The Allman Brothers Band at the Beacon Theater in 2006 — and joining Beck’s band soon after.

March’s “Love Remains,” Wilkenfeld’s debut vocal album, puts her latest songs front-and-center. Her support tour behind the album will include the headlining slot Saturday at the seventh annual Newberry Event Music and Arts Festival to Defeat MS at DiamondStone Guest Lodges in La Pine.

“I think this album was really, really important to me for my growth in my personal life,” Wilkenfeld said recently while driving in Los Angeles. “Also, musically it was a very big change from what people have known me as being — as a bass player for various artists — now transitioning into being a songwriter. And now that I’ve made that transition and now that I’ve expressed these feelings about love and loss, I can now start writing from a clean slate again.”

While much has changed for Wilkenfeld since her earliest forays into songwriting, her process has largely stayed the same, at least musically. Lyrically, the inspiration is always changing, she said.

“What’s interesting about songwriting is that it is kind of like a diary that you then read publicly,” Wilkenfeld said. “And I think that when you have to face your own thoughts night after night, hearing it back and then watching other people take that in and react to it, you’re bound to then think, ‘Well, where do I go from here and how do I evolve and what do I want to say now?’ It’s a magical thing because it’s almost like you’re your own therapist.”

Wilkenfeld will join Friday night headliner Pigs on the Wing, San Diego’s Vokab Company, Eugene reggae band Sol Seed, Portland-area bands Idle Poets and Indubious and more on two stages at the Newberry Event. Local acts will include Eric Leadbetter, Natty Red, Pete Kartsounes and Tortilla Chips, among others. The festival runs Thursday through Sunday.

As in past years, attendance is capped at 500 people per day, with proceeds from ticket sales and silent auctions throughout the event going to the Oregon chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Gloria Watt, the festival’s co-founder and organizer (with husband Doug Watt) who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when she was 24, said the festival has raised more than $9,000 over the last six years. As always, the Watts’ goal is to raise $10,000 for the organization this year, Gloria Watt said.

“They work with the OHSU (Oregon Health & Science University) MS research center, and they’ve had some recent accomplishments that we feel like we’re a teeny, tiny part of,” Gloria Watt said. “It’s pretty exciting to know that they’re developing potential cures for people like me that have secondary progressive MS, which has never had any treatments or medications available to hope to be able to repair some of the damage and maybe (have) some recuperative properties. Everything on the market is just to slow the progression of the disease — slow down the truck. Well, that’s nice, but to be able to imagine that you could repair the damage and be able to walk, because now you can’t — that’s exciting.”

This year, the Newberry Event received the Hidden Gem Festival Award at the annual meeting of the Oregon Festivals and Events Association. Visit Central Oregon also awarded the festival a grant for $10,000.

Wilkenfeld has a personal connection to MS through a friend’s wife who died from the disease.

“It’s definitely a sensitive issue, and just watching them go through that was heartbreaking,” she said. “Anything I can do to support the cause is exciting and inspiring.”

The new sounds on “Love Remains” have drawn new and old faces to Wilkenfeld’s shows with her four-piece band. While Wilkenfeld has played with artists ranging from jazz to classic rock to hip-hop (she also made a foray into fusion with her instrumental debut album, 2007’s “Transformation”), “Love Remains” charts a more indie- and alternative-rock path.

“A lot of my old fans have stuck with me because musically, it still stretches harmonically and rhythmically; it’s not your basic one-four-five song,” Wilkenfeld said. “And yet they still are strong with lyrics, and therefore it’s appealing to people that want to listen to songs.”

In 2016, Wilkenfeld recorded and released the album’s first track, “Corner Painter.” The song, recorded with producer Paul Stacey and featuring his brother Jeremy Stacey on drums and guitarist Blake Mills, set the template for the rest of the album.

“I had many songs, and I was trying different songs with different bands,” Wilkenfeld said. “It was only when I went in the studio with those three other people that I recognized that I was on the path that I wanted to be on.”

Singer-songwriter Jackson Browne and keyboardist Benmont Tench of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, who also played on the album, introduced Wilkenfeld to songwriters such as Bob Dylan and Neil Young during the writing and recording process. Those introductions, along with others such as Jeff Buckley, Elliott Smith, Leonard Cohen and Paul Simon, influenced Wilkenfeld’s writing.

As a bandleader, Wilkenfeld draws even more on the lessons learned from Beck, Prince and the other musicians she’s played and recorded with over the years. In addition to their knowledge on the technical aspects of touring — stage design, sound engineering, assembling a crew — Wilkenfeld cited these artists’ generosity as a major inspiration.

“When you can use your art as a platform for helping other people in any capacity — like, for instance, this show that’s gonna support MS — that’s a real blessing that we get to have as performers,” Wilkenfeld said. “If there’s a way that we can help make the world a better place in any kind of way, that’s really cool that we can do that with music.”

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