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Doug Clark: Firsts and monsoons at Street Music Week


The 10th annual Spokane Street Music Week will be remembered for its number of exciting firsts.

As in …

First comedian. First juggler.

First church choir.

With just two noon hours left, what other “firsts” will we see in our quest to raise a record $10,000 for the Second Harvest food bank?

Thanks for asking.

As a matter of fact, I’m thinking of launching our first-ever Street Music Week lawsuit.

Seriously. I plan to sue the Apple corporation for the fraudulent weather app that came on my iPhone.

Flash back to last Sunday.

I checked my weather app and was ecstatic to see nothing but shiny orbs of sunshine predicted for the week ahead.

As it turns out, however, Apple’s weather geeks apparently can’t tell the difference between sunlight and MONSOON SEASON!

Right now I’d take a black fly invasion over another thunderstorm.

The bottom line is that our moody brooding weather has had a debilitating impact on the lunchtime foot traffic that our event depends on for red bucket donations.

Must we wait until John Fogerty finishes singing Friday at Northern Quest to find out who’ll stop the rain?

( Columnist Note: You have to be over 50 to get that last joke.)

Another, more serious question looms.

Will we make that $10K goal for our 10th annual event?

Donating to Second Harvest via our website,, is a painless (and dry) way to make it happen.

Or grab a raincoat and defy the elements. You will be amazed by the array of talented performers who are spicing up noontime in downtown Spokane.

Ken Martin, say.

In his 20 years as a professional comedian, Martin has played every kind of seedy venue imaginable.

But until Tuesday, Martin had never even considered taking his joke telling to the sidewalks.

“I call it yuks for bucks,” said Martin, adding that it wasn’t easy convincing some pedestrians that he was actually part of Street Music Week.

“Wait a minute, you’re not playing anything,” said one cynic who eyeballed the comic suspiciously. “Do you have your ID badge?”

“I’m not playing anything,” Martin told her. “But I brought my organ.”

“Oh,” said the woman, who began walking away.

Three steps later, she froze. She turned back to look at him.

“Oooohhhh,” she drawled in a knowing tone.

On Wednesday I was delighted to see Mike Green, an old friend from way back in my Idaho newspaper days. Green came downtown to showcase his professional juggling talents outside the front doors of River Park Square.

Alas, we didn’t get a chance to talk. But I watched Green tossing bowling pins from my spot near Starbucks and, man, the guy is really good.

“I made my first trip to Spokane in 1967,” wrote Green in an email to me last week.

“I was a member of a 4-H livestock judging group that won at a local level and advanced to competition at the fairgrounds.

“Got a tour of the city, saw an Indians ballgame, the falls at night and planes taking off at the airport. Also got to ride the escalators at the Bon from where I bought my first Wailers album.

“I’m coming back to town again, but this time I’m part of the show.”

He certainly is.

Green added that he will be back today, so don’t miss him.

For some, there’s a definite learning curve in becoming a successful busker or street performer.

“It was really hard to get the pitch,” explained Irene Supica, who performed near River Park Square with members of the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church choir.

Apparently some of the amplified acts made it difficult for the choir to, ahem, find its footing.

I think Irene might have been talking about my trio.

A bit embarrassed by her slim collections, however, Supica got out her checkbook saying that she had to “write a guilt check” to help out.

That wasn’t necessary. But it was a really sweet gesture.

I hope the choir gives it another go.

There will be no stopping Martin, I fear. The funny man promises to bring his comedic stylings back to SSMW on Friday.

Just look, he said, for the guy in the loud Hawaiian shirt wandering around on Main Avenue.

“It’s a humbling experience,” said Martin of the $16 he took in Tuesday. “It took me back to my roots in comedy.”

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

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