June 16, 2011 in City

Clark: Mayor sings for food bank; other candidates welcome

By The Spokesman-Review

Mary Verner became a history-making Spokane mayor on Wednesday.

No, it didn’t have anything to do with her current attempt to become the first two-term mayor since Spokane had a half-dozen drive-in theaters.

The milestone I’m talking about is far more prestigious than politics.

In singing Steve Winwood’s hit “Higher Love,” Verner became the first Spokane mayor to perform three years in a row at Spokane Street Music Week.

True, Verner is one of the only Spokane mayors to perform at street music week.

But let’s not niggle over details.

The point is that Verner belted out the Creedence Clearwater Revival classic “Proud Mary” in 2009. The next year she put her own spin on Tom Petty’s “Won’t Back Down.”

And on Wednesday, my bandmates and I accompanied the mayor near the Starbucks shop on Main. As an added bonus, Verner’s son, Daniel, supplied a steady beat on the drums.

As for the mayor, well, this was clearly her best vocalizing yet.

There is a reason for that.

On Monday night we rehearsed the tune in the mayor’s basement.

No, really. Even I wouldn’t make a thing like that up.

The mayor invited us: Me, Joe Brasch and Jim Lyons, street music week’s almost high commander.

We ran the song several times. You could hear the confidence when Verner stepped in front of the mike on Wednesday.

The mayor’s appearance drew media members as well as many gawkers who tossed bills and coins into our red food bank collection buckets.

Every cent is appreciated. I hate to say it, but our run of rotten weather is having an impact on the ninth annual Spokane Street Music Week.

Numbers are down this year on performers as well as sidewalk benefactors. It’s looking like we’ll need a lucky break if we’re going to match or beat last year’s record $4,272.66 in contributions to Second Harvest food bank.

The good news, however, is that there is still plenty of time to get involved and help the hungry.

The noon-hour event continues through Friday with musicians and entertainers of all ages and levels of ability performing throughout the downtown sidewalks of Spokane.

Don’t forget that today’s special noon-hour guest will be City Council President Joe Shogan. He will croon “Heart of Gold” at the Starbucks site.

Then on Friday, Peter Rivera, the great former lead singer of Rare Earth, will perform his hits there.

If that doesn’t kick up the donations nothing will.

But getting back to Wednesday …

It was terrific fun no matter how much the weather sucked. Some 45 performers turned out, including 27 members of the Spokane Tremble Clefs. The singing ensemble is comprised of people with Parkinson’s disease. Singing has been found to be therapeutic as well as a “good social thing, too,” said Walt Jakubowski.

Once again, Wally Friel made the trip up from the Pullman/Moscow area.

Friel, 80, is a retired Superior Court judge. He’s also a weapon of brass destruction with a trombone.

With him were Dave Bezdicek on tuba and Peggy Flaherty on baritone sax.

By the way, I do know that four other candidates are running for mayor against Verner.

So in fairness I’d like to make the following offer of equal time.

My buddies Joe and Jim and I are willing to travel to the basement of any other mayoral candidate.

We will hold a rock song rehearsal. Then, at a later date, we will publicly perform said song with the candidate for food bank donations.

You candidates should give me a call and tell me which of your basement windows we should climb into.

Before signing off I’d like to point out a notable street music absence.

Terry T-Boy Finnerty – my good friend and Ferris High School classmate – has been under the weather and unable to make his usual appearances this year.

Finnerty is a gifted pianist and songwriter. He’s one of the kindest guys you’ll ever meet.

He’s been a big part of street music week.

That began in 2006, when Finnerty read about my efforts to help the food bank by making music downtown.

Finnerty showed up lugging his portable keyboard. From that moment on, T-Boy didn’t miss a day of street music week.

I’d like him to know how much I appreciate his willingness to pitch in for a good cause. T-Boy is one of the reasons we’ve been able to raise over $20,000 for Second Harvest.

So get well, T-boy. We miss your music!

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by email at dougc@spokesman.com.

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