I love music. Always have. As a teenager, a good chunk of my fast-food paycheck went to buy albums at Strawberry Jams, Mirage, Campbell’s Used Records, Little Nell’s, Eli’s, Eucalyptus – my favorite Spokane record shops, all sadly defunct.
That’s why it does my heart good to see the Long Ear, in Coeur d’Alene, marking 40 years in business – 28 of them in North Idaho – with a blowout bash on Saturday. In this day, with CDs available for purchase at the click of a button and music streaming from devices everywhere, it’s refreshing to walk into a place, scope out the posters on the walls and browse through the racks in search of bargains and long-desired goodies. If you can strike up a conversation with a knowledgeable and interesting clerk, all the better. Sure, it’s easy to see the appeal of the one-click download – That Lumineers album for $4.99? Score! – but nothing beats supporting a local mom-and-pop establishment.
As part of its daylong party, the Long Ear is hosting an in-store gig by Robert Cray, the multiple-Grammy-winning bluesman. It’ll be a tough ticket. Space is limited, and you’ll have to buy a Cray CD from Long Ear to get in. Or, you can head to Liberty Lake’s Pavillion Park on Saturday night and see the Robert Cray Band perform for free, as part of the Friends of Pavillion Park Summer Concert Series. Cray is one of the best and best-known contemporary blues artists around. That his roots are in Tacoma, and he was part of the Oregon blues scene that inspired John Belushi to create the Blues Brothers – you can look it up – make it a show worth catching.
Not that there’s any shortage of live music on the horizon. Sammy Hagar will be at Northern Quest Resort & Casino’s outdoor stage on Saturday night. Bow Wow, the child rapper formerly known as Lil’ Bow Wow, will stop by the Knitting Factory. Next week, two guitarist of two very different stripes will come to town. Coco Montoya, who plays upside down in the style of Albert King, will bring his blues stylings to Chateau Rive at the Flour Mill on Thursday. Across the river that night, at the Bing Crosby Theater, German-born guitarist Ottmar Liebert will perform his new age flamenco music.
For fans of fast cars and fairs, never fear. There’s plenty for you, too. The Goodguys 12th Great Northwest Nationals will drive into the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center for a full weekend of hot rods, customs and classics. Head to Pullman for the National Lentil Festival, to Cusick for the Pend Oreille County Fair and the Cusick Rodeo, or Riverfront Park for Unity in the Community. Beginning Wednesday, the North Idaho Fair in Coeur d’Alene lands for a five-day run – look for a special section devoted to the fair tucked behind today’s 7 section. The Northeast Washington Fair, in Colville, kicks off Thursday, as does the annual Spokane Falls Northwest Indian Encampment Market and Pow Wow, in Riverfront Park.
Or, you could hit your favorite record store.