Organizing an annual event like Spokane Street Music Week – which will take place June 11-15 – is a lot more challenging than many of you might suspect.
Oh, sure, it sounds as if any chowderhead could do it.
Each year (as I did today) I put out a call for interested area musicians to contact me by telephone or the e-mail information below.
Then, when the big week arrives, players show up to entertain pedestrians during the noon hours on the busy downtown sidewalks of Spokane.
It’s fun. It’s festive.
It’s an informal way to celebrate the art of making music.
It doesn’t matter what skill level you’re at or what instrument you play. Spokane Street Music Week has featured accordion players, guitar players, trombone players …
A cool dude once banged out tunes on a piano he set up in the back of his pickup truck.
Another guy showed up and sang classic rock songs a cappella.
And who will forget Dwight Aden, the oldest-living former member of the Spokane Indians baseball team?
Aden played his silver alto sax last year. He was 91.
There are no commitment requirements. Although the show goes on all week, rain or shine, a player can be there for one noon-hour gig or do the entire Monday-through-Friday run.
There is one requirement: All performers must collect money, which is passed on to the Second Harvest Food Bank.
Last year we drew 55 musicians and raised $2,026.95, a record in both categories.
But despite my low-pressure, user-friendly format, the clock is ticking. The fifth annual Spokane Street Music Week is less than a month away and I have so many details to take care of.
Details such as:
1. Wash the dust off the red plastic collection buckets.
2. Buy the city performers’ license.
3. Arrange a meeting with Spokane Mayor Dennis Hession for some remorse and groveling.
Oh, man. I’m not looking forward to that last one. I think I’d rather be on the receiving end of a barium enema.
But Street Music Week has always been endorsed by a city government proclamation.
Having that official stamp gives the event credibility. Plus it will hopefully discourage any cowboy cops from Tasering me to a medium-rare in the event of a noise complaint.
But here’s the problem. I haven’t been exactly a cheerleader for the Hession administration.
OK. I’ll be honest.
From time to time I’ve pounded on the mayor like a set of congas.
Hey, I can’t help it. It’s just the way I am.
True fact: One of the mayor’s relatives called me a while ago and told me: “Stop picking on Dennis.”
My mom says essentially the same thing whenever she reads those hateful letters to the editor about me.
But Hession is a decent man. I’m confident he can overlook my playful newsprint assaults. I’m hoping the mayor will see that Spokane Street Music Week is above all a charitable event.
I don’t want to have to remind the mayor how terrible it would look for him to turn his back on a fundraiser for the food bank during an election year.
So let the healing begin.
Then I can go to a City Council meeting and accept a proclamation just like always.
Doing that is difficult enough. I haven’t exactly gone any easier on council members, you know.
Last year, for example, I went down to City Hall to pick up the proclamation. The grim-faced council members gazed down at me the same way PETA members would look at a steaming greasy bucket of KFC.
I’m sure Don Kardong had the same problems getting Bloomsday off the ground.
Minus all the contempt, of course.
I want to make this landmark fifth annual Spokane Street Music Week special.
Everyone who takes part will receive a certificate of appreciation. The awards will be given out at a jam session/pizza party at Pacific Ave. Pizza in Browne’s Addition the night of June 15.
So contact me, musicians. Leave your name and call-back information and I’ll get back to you.
Let’s make this the most successful Spokane Street Music Week ever.
Maybe Hession will join me on the sidewalk and sing my “Spokane Song” with me.
Now that would prove he’s a strong mayor.