Officially, 28 groups of performers – including belly dancers and bluegrass groups – received formal invitations this year from the Lilac Bloomsday Run committee to rally the 40,000-plus racers expected to ply the 12-kilometer course.
But the total number of acts came to 29 if you counted the renegade band Gorilla, Rabbit and Chicken.
Decked out in costumes of feathers and fur, the band members pumped out impromptu electronica in front of Monroe Street’s Time Bomb Collectibles, across the street from Pete’s Bail Bonds and just a stone’s throw from the finish line.
Runners strained to reach the finish line while the critters let loose with rousing riffs.
Chicken danced and scratched out sounds from a Moog synthesizer. Rabbit hopped to the wail of a tiny red-white-and-blue electronic guitar. Gorilla pounded out a jungle beat on a snare drum with a smiley-face head.
“They’re probably my favorite band in Spokane,” said nearby Nathan Huston, sporting a Yosemite Sam-style beard and a helmet that made him look like a one-eyed alien.
The trio is semi-retired, having long ago tired of local barroom appearances, Huston said.
Time Bomb owner Joshua Scott said they can still get their groove on.
“But you’ve got to plead, beg and borrow to get them to play,” Scott said.
Huston chimed in: “This is the biggest crowd they’ve ever played to, so they couldn’t pass it up.”
Bloomsday entrants are voting again this year for their favorite performers at www.bloomsdayrun.org. Voting continues through Wednesday for the 28 registered groups, which is an increase of 40 percent over last year. The winners will be announced later in the week with the top three vote-getters receiving $500, $300 and $200, respectively.
About three-fourths of a mile back, 13-year-old Breanna Abell waved to joggers as she belted out pop, Latin and rock tunes through a sound board in the bed of the family’s old Toyota truck, at the intersection of Broadway Avenue and Maple Street.
Abell won the Best Bloomsday Entertainer contest last year. She was hoping for a repeat performance, said her mother Jan Abell, also the roadie, engineer and manager.
The rising pop star looked the part in a pink slicker, watchman’s cap and white cargo pants.
“She did her first gig at (age) 9 and (now) performs at fairs, the Apple Blossom Festival and lots of charity events,” said the singer’s mother.
After their finish, runners joined by spectators stretched out in front of a stage featuring country music’s Barry Lee White and his band Moonshine.
A Spokane native, White’s made the rounds from here to Nashville and back again, said his wife, Lorie Rice, as she sold his CDs and talked to fans.
Fairs, rodeos and music halls are White’s usual stops, she explained. He’s had two songs make it on country music’s charts. And his new single, “Men Only Want One Thing,” is getting air play on country music stations around the country, Rice said.
White has opened for the late Johnny Cash, Diamond Rio and Keith Urban, among others, Rice said.
“But I think he was more excited about this,” she said of his Bloomsday appearance. “This is the first time he’s been invited here, and he’s a hometown boy. It’s really neat.”