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Music Week ends on an orange note

Sun., June 20, 2010

Knowing that the mayor had agreed to sing a duet with me to help close out the eighth annual Spokane Street Music Week, I rummaged through my closet Friday morning looking for something bright and festive to wear.

I came out with my burnt orange corduroy sports jacket.

I bought it years ago at the Nordstrom Rack for a ridiculously low price that might have had something to do with the, um, color.

I don’t really wear the jacket out in public much. That’s mainly because my lovely wife, Sherry, tells me that it makes me look like a large piece of pumpkin pie.

Mmm … pie.

But imagine my surprise when Mayor Mary Verner showed up at my spot near the Main Avenue Starbucks about a quarter after noon sporting a nifty ensemble with eerily similar orange overtones.

It’s like the mayor and I share a wardrobe consultant.

Give us a tour bus and a few hairy roadies and we could head for Vegas as the new Donny and Marie.

Well, Dougie and Mary, anyway.

It could be worse, I suppose. The day before, City Council President Joe Shogan came to the same spot and belted out an enthusiastic version of “House of the Rising Sun.”

I’m relieved to report that we were NOT attired in matching outfits.

The mayor and I traded verses on Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.” The crowd responded well to my improvised lyrics, such as:

“She’s the mayor of our town.

“And she works with clowns …”

I also seem to recall the mayor getting big laughs with:

“I won’t let Doug Clark push me around,

“And I won’t back down.”

Credit Verner and Shogan for being super sports on behalf of a very worthy cause. Nancy McLaughlin, too. The Spokane City Council member sang “I’ll Fly Away” with me on Monday.

Every cent collected during Spokane Street Music Week goes to the Second Harvest Inland Northwest Food Bank.

And this year more than 100 performers donated their abilities during the noon hours Monday through Friday.

Together we raised – drum roll, please – $4,100.

This includes $950 by auctioning off several pieces of autographed baseball memorabilia donated by my friend and businessman Alan Brill. Add to that a gift of $200 and two $100 gifts that were given to Second Harvest through our new website,

Check it out. My son, Ben, bought the domain name for me and designed the site. He’s also been doing a wonderful job updating it regularly with Street Music visuals and information.

Our $4,100 figure is $200 shy of last year’s record tally. But considering the positively dreadful midweek weather, well, I’m ecstatic.

Sure, we have encountered wet days during past Street Music Weeks. But Wednesday and Thursday were not only sopping but finger-numbing cold.

Between shivers, Jim Lyons, my Street Music Week vice commandant, predicted that the Iditarod would be moving to Spokane as a June event.

I don’t know how I’d manage without Lyons. He handled the daily check-in process and tended to all the collection buckets. His great kids, Ben and Emma, helped out, too.

But the real heroes of this event are all the performers who unselfishly gave their time and talents to help feed the hungry.

Wes Hughes, for example.

A bluegrass banjo player, Hughes told me while turning in his bucket that he could only play one day this year. Doctor’s orders. Hughes, 67, said he had lung cancer surgery just six weeks ago and was still feeling a bit punk.

Focusing on playing again in Street Music Week, he said, “gave me something to shoot for.”

On Friday, 22 members of the Tremble Clefs – a therapeutic support choir for those with Parkinson’s disease – sang classic songs like “Danny Boy” and “Bye Bye Blackbird” on the sidewalk near Macy’s.

Walt Jakubowski said that singing helps strengthen the voices of those suffering from the illness.

Jamie Hyams became the first painter to take part in Spokane Street Music Week. The artist entertained pedestrians by drawing in a variety of styles on butcher paper that she spread out on the sidewalks.

It was good to see local musicians Cary Fly and Bobby Patterson. In addition to their music, they brought down a $50 donation from the management of Spokane’s Bluz at the Bend club. Cool.

In the event’s early days I could thank everyone by name. Now the event has grown beyond that.

But I must give kudos to The Spokesman-Review marketing department for providing ad support and to our very own graphics whiz Nita Alexander who once again designed our posters and badges.

And hats off to my newsroom pal Mary Beth Donelan for sorting, counting and overseeing the daily contributions. Dittos to Clear Channel radio stations and Spokane Public Radio KPBX for advertising the event via interviews and public service announcements. Not to mention Matt Monroe of Button Up, the official Clark column badge maker.

As for me, I had a blast playing music every day with my bandmate and guitar-slinging buddy Joe Brasch.

We had so much fun, in fact, that I say we do it all again next year.

Er, minus the rain. Please.

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by e-mail at


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