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Doug Clark: Altruistic artists turn out for Street Music Week

Doug Clark
Doug Clark

Judy Burr hadn’t been in town very long when she noticed that something quite different was happening on the sidewalks of Spokane.

“What’s this?” she asked.

Burr, who lives in Kensington, Maryland, was eyeballing the poster and twin red collection buckets that had been set next to my microphone stand near the Starbucks at Main and Post.

I took her words as an invitation and promptly dove into my sermon with the gusto of a tent preacher with a new box of rattlesnakes to handle.

“This,” I told her, “is the 12th annual Spokane Street Music Week.”

I pointed across the street and beyond.

“All week during the noon hours,” I continued, “musicians and performers are scattered all over downtown, entertaining the lunchtime crowd to collect money for the Second Harvest food bank.”

Burr lit up with an agreeable smile.

She told me she was here to join a photo tour of our grand and rolling Palouse.

That could be quite scenic as long as the tour doesn’t include the falling frat boys of Wazzu.

Burr definitely looked the part for such an outing. The affable woman carried a big camera and wore one of those many-pocketed fishing vests that serious photographers favor.

The noon hour struck.

Time to get serious. My great bandmates, Joe Brasch and Daniel Cox, backed me on a tune that Burr appeared to enjoy.

After a few more songs, the visitor from Maryland walked away, still smiling and appreciating this new experience called Spokane Street Music Week.

“I didn’t even know about it,” said Burr. “I love serendipity.”

Me too. Though I also believe in that old saying about luck being the residue of good design. That’s why I’ll never take SMW for granted.

I know the goodwill being generated wouldn’t happen without all the practice and commitment from the amazing people who have decided to make this simple idea a yearly reality.

Curt Donner and Dave McRae, for example.

Jim Shamp. The Eyer family. Jan Giesa, Anne Pearson, Janet Vaughn and Pam Silverstein.

Ernie Vollmer. Bob Glaza.

The Spokane Horn Club  …

There was a time not so long ago that I could credit everybody who took part by name. Looking at the daily sign-in sheets tells me that can’t happen anymore. And there are two more days to get involved.

Or you can always stay home and check out

On Thursday, Michael Green, an amazing juggler, will be demonstrating some gravity-defying stunts in downtown Spokane.

You heard me – juggling.

Street Music Week is open to artists of all persuasions.

There’s also a rumor that a certain award-winning jazz choir from Mead High School will be coming to croon on the sidewalks.

Won’t that be cool?

On Friday, Peter Rivera, the great former lead singer of Rare Earth, will be dropping by the Starbucks location to sing his super hits like “Get Ready.”

Plus Street Music Week continues at the Garland District and – for the first year – Coeur d’Alene.

Speaking of which, we columnists sometimes like to end our essays with a surprise or a twist.

Allow me to continue that tradition by telling you about the surprise that was dropped into Luke Emerson’s red bucket on Tuesday at Fourth and Sherman in the Lake City.

It was a check.

For $5,000.

Forgive me for sounding like Capt. Obvious, but…


“I appreciate what you’re doing to help Second Harvest,” said John Huckabay, the North Idaho businessman and philanthropist behind the donation. This is the second time Huckabay has done such a thing.

After last year’s Street Music Week, I stopped by the food bank’s headquarters to deliver a cashier’s check containing our entire week’s collections.

Much to my delight, I learned that Huckabay had been there earlier in the day to pad that figure with a $5,000 gift.

His generosity upped our 2013 total to just under $23,000 – besting our previous top year by well over $10,000.

Thanks to Huckabay’s repeat performance, a crazy question has popped into my skull.

Can last year’s crazy record be beaten?

Stay tuned Sunday for the Big Reveal.

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

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