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‘Rising Sun’ promised to all who brave the rain

Thu., June 17, 2010

What? Let a little drizzle fizzle the sizzle?

Not on your rusty glockenspiel.

Sure, maybe they’ll close the city pools because of a few drips. But the eighth annual Spokane Street Music Week stays open all week no matter what the skies unload.

That’s because Street Music Week performers are the hardiest of good-hearted souls. And 25 of them braved the spill and chill Wednesday to sing and play on the sidewalks of the downtown business core. The noon-hour event continues today and Friday with every waterlogged penny collected going to 2nd Harvest Inland Northwest Food Bank to feed the hungry.

“I’m not just a fair-weather friend,” said Sarah DeRyan, who arrived wearing a warm coat and toting her concertina.

I wasn’t at all surprised to see DeRyan. She has been a Street Music regular practically since I put out the call for musicians to help me busk for the food bank.

Charlie Lee, another die-hard, showed up Wednesday wearing a well-worn hooded canvas jumpsuit – and flip flops.

“It’s a Northwest look,” quipped the guitarist.

Lavella Carlon, 17, heard about Spokane Street Music Week from her grandmother.

“I think it’s a great idea,” she said of the event. Carlon plays acoustic guitar and uses a stage name, Wonder Wonder, for her original songs.

Wally Friel, a retired Whitman County Superior Court judge, was waiting when I arrived at the check-in location near the Starbucks on Main Avenue, across from Pottery Barn.

What an indefatigable showman. The 79-year-old musician soon took a position near the River Park Square entrance where he unleashed a terrific solo trombone act of timeless tunes.

Expecting better weather, Friel hoped to lead a mob in the singing of “Meet Me at the River,” a ditty dating back to the days of Spokane’s famed Expo ’74.

But the rain kept many pedestrians off the sidewalks. Only one woman showed up for Friel’s sing-along.

Then at the last second, about 40 schoolchildren wandered by on some kind of outing. Seizing the opportunity, the judge quickly arraigned the kids, passed out song sheets and struck up the band.

The day was saved like the happy ending in a Disney flick.

Things certainly have changed since 2003. That’s when I began Street Music Week as a wandering solo act with my guitar. I raked in $503.71, which encouraged me to make this a yearly event open to musicians and performers of all ages, abilities and artistic endeavor. ( There’s still time to join the fun. Contact me via the information below.)

Last year’s Street Music Week drew 150-plus performers and cleared a record $4,300.

I don’t know if we can keep setting high-water marks year after year, especially in times of monsoon. But we have come up with a way for people to take part while staying dry.

I give you – ta-da! –

The website, which is expanding daily, features photos, videos and information, plus a link allowing visitors to make donations directly to the 2nd Harvest Inland Northwest Food Bank on behalf of Street Music Week.

This has always been about having a good time for an even better cause.

That’s definitely been the mantra this year.

On Tuesday, Peter Rivera, original lead singer for Rare Earth, entertained a large crowd with his classic hits “Get Ready,” “Born to Wander” and “I Just Want to Celebrate.”

And if you think Rivera was rocking, get ready for today. City Council President Joe Shogan has promised to appear at the Starbucks location, where he will belt out “House of the Rising Sun.”

Although the day’s music kicks off at noon, we will not unleash Shogan until a Spo-Vegas sized crowd is assembled. Same with Mayor Mary Verner, who is scheduled to sing on Friday.

So come on downtown. Support all these fabulous performers who are giving it up for the food bank.

And with a little luck you won’t have to tote an umbrella.

Doug Clarkcan be reached at (509) 459-5432 or at

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