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Clark: Spokane not only city with Street Music Week

Seven weeks and change.

That’s the countdown until the next Spokane Street Music Week rocks the downtown sidewalks with noon-hour music and entertainment.

So there’s still plenty of time left to pass the word to anyone who has never taken part in our annual event that raises money for Second Harvest food bank. Shoot me an email via the contact information below if you’d like to get involved.

But the question lingers … Why bring up Street Music Week so early?

Because I just can’t keep the exciting news to myself any longer, that’s why.

And here it is: Spokane has a street music sister city.

That’s right. During the noon hours of June 10-14, two downtowns will battle hunger through sidewalk performance art.

They are Spokane and – ta-dah! – Appleton, Wis.

“We’re on a roll now,” Appleton resident and drummer Audrey Hendrickson said.

I’ll say.

Appleton, population 73,000, has wrapped its arms around Street Music Week.

Feeding America, eastern Wisconsin’s version of Second Harvest, is actively involved. Some Appleton stores are running specials to draw shoppers to the business core during the event.

Hmm. Why hasn’t anyone around here thought of that one?

Heid Music, where Hendrickson works and teaches percussion, has taken on an overseer’s role.

Should things go well, Hendrickson said her employer wants to take the fundraiser to the other Wisconsin cities where the store has a presence. So come June 2014, what began right here in Spokane could be repeated in Appleton, Madison, Green Bay, Oshkosh and Wisconsin Rapids.

Be still, my heart.

When I began this way back when, my goal was to survive a week of strumming my beat-up acoustic guitar in front of City Hall and other downtown destinations.

The plan was to breathe a bit of life into Spokane’s near-comatose sidewalk music scene. To my utter shock and awe, however, I collected $503 in the process.

Picking a destination for the money was a no-brainer.

Despite our affluence as a nation, hunger is still a real problem in America. For every donated dollar, Second Harvest can buy six pounds of food. That $503 could be turned into a serious mountain of life-sustaining grub.

An editor came up with a suggestion: Why not reprise my act the next year and open it up to any minstrels who’d like to join the fun?

Spokane Street Music Week was born.

Last year marked our 10th annual. Scores of generous musicians, dancers, artists and entertainers gave their time and talent to raise some $11,000 for the cause.

This record amount pushed our lifetime total to somewhere in the $40,000 range.

The uncomplicated nature of the event has probably had a lot to do with its success. Participants simply show up, take a collection bucket and find a spot to perform for an hour.

Then they bring the bucket back along with any donations, which all go to the food bank.

Because of this simplicity, I always thought Spokane Street Music Week could be duplicated in virtually any city with a downtown lunch crowd. But Appleton?

That came about thanks to a fine folk rocker named Angela Marie.

The former Wisconsin resident loved participating in Spokane Street Music Week so much that she decided to spread the word to her close friend and former bandmate, Hendrickson.

Street Music Week “is the coolest thing,” Marie said. “You just walk around and experience it. I knew Audrey would appreciate it and want to make it happen.”

She was right.

“Musicians are some of the most gracious people,” Hendrickson said. “And we’re all excited about it.”

My street music amigos and I have a saying about the event.

It’s not about virtuosity; it’s about generosity.

Doug Clark can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or dougc@spokesman.com. Check out streetmusicweek.com for more information.


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