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Come busk with me, and help feed the hungry

Time again to put out the call to bluegrassers, rockers, jazz cats, sidewalk shufflers and vocalists from beginners to virtuosos.

Mark your calendars for June 11-15.

The 10th annual Spokane Street Music Week will take place those days during the noon hour on city sidewalks all over downtown.

( Contact me via the information below if you’ve never participated but would like to. This is definitely the year you won’t want to miss.)

We’re marking our 10th annual event by attempting to raise an unprecedented $10,000 for Second Harvest food bank.

Street Music Week is a simple concept where performers perform as pedestrians pass by.

Hopefully, enough of the onlookers are good Samaritans who reward what they see and hear by tossing green and silver into our red collection buckets.

As always, every nickel taken in goes to help feed the area’s hungry.

(You can also donate to the cause year-round through our website.)

All that spare change adds up after a while.

Last year’s SSMW, for example, raised a record $8,300 despite some of the coldest, windiest and wettest weather we’d ever encountered.

That puts the take at about $30,000 since it all began with just me strumming my battered six-string around downtown.

Two things happened during those first five noon hours.

1. People flipped more than $400 into my open guitar case.

2. The idea for an annual charity event began to take shape, with one important difference: no more solo outings.

And so the second full week in June became Spokane Street Music Week, a city-sanctioned event proclaimed by all our one-term mayors, and open to performers of all disciplines and levels of ability.

Within a few years, SSMW was regularly drawing some 150 “buskers,” the age-old term bestowed on street performers.

But the bottom line is that our cause – fighting hunger – couldn’t be more crucial.

“The need is just as high this time of year” as it is around the holidays, said Rod Wieber, the food bank’s chief resource officer, when I stopped in at Second Harvest headquarters Monday afternoon.

Take the $10,000 we’re hoping to raise. It will translate into an incredible 60,000 pounds of food.

Or four meals for every dollar. That’s another way to look at it, added Wieber.

This year should be better than ever, thanks to a few exciting additions:

• Spokane Mayor David Condon has promised to perform with me despite his claim of having absolutely no musical talent.

No problem, mayor.

That’s why God invented the cowbell.

• Every busker will receive a special 10th annual commemorative badge for participating.

• Jim Lyons – SSMW’s under-czar – and his buddy Joe Long plan to unveil “Sing for their Supper,” the street music documentary that has literally been years in the filming.

The world premier, along with some live music, will take place the night of June 13 at The Bing.

And with a little luck, we’ll hit that $10,000 mark.

Whew. Ten thousand bucks.

I may contract another bout of shingles before this is over.

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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