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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Street Music Week starts with a buck

Doug Clark The Spokesman-Review

Spokane Street Music Week – the city’s only major festival to not need portable toilets – kicked off Monday with several exciting developments:

• A trombone and tuba duo called Two Old Brass Guys was hauling in dollar bills outside River Park Square like squirrels gathering nuts.

• My sidewalk singing and six-string strumming earned me a drive-by middle finger flip-off from a scowling motorist.

• Then a thoughtful listener rolled a note inside a dollar bill and tossed it into my money bucket.

The unsigned message advised me to “quit your first-rate job as a fifth-rate columnist (sic Clown) at the fourth-rate rag of a newspaper, get a bus ticket and move back to Arkansas and marry another of your cousins.”

It’s getting so nobody can keep his sex life secret anymore.

First the mayor’s gallivanting is splashed all over. Now the whole world knows about my cousin marriage.

Well, at least my new pen pal gave me a buck with the bashing – so no hard feelings.

As always, every dime collected by this annual effort to upgrade our street music goes to the Second Harvest Food Bank. Last year’s effort raised $1,361.61 for the fight against hunger.

This year, the Spokane City Council endorsed Spokane Street Music Week with what I’m told is the “first-ever” City Council-issued proclamation. (Hey, I wasn’t about to ask the mayor for anything.) It was a proud moment as I stood in front of the council during a recent meeting and heard my proclamation read.

“WHEREAS, Spokane is a city with a rich tradition of music and an abundance of fine musicians; and …

“WHEREAS, More live music in the downtown business core will create a more lively and artistic atmosphere that is beneficial to the city as a whole; and …

“WHEREAS, Street music is an age-old and noble enterprise …”

It almost sounds legit, huh?

Spokane Street Music Week features an ever-changing cast of musicians. We’ll be performing during the noon hour at various locations throughout the business core for the remainder of the week.

Any players who would like to join us should get ahold of me (contact information below).

Or just come down and give me a donation. Or insult my relatives.

I’ll be outside Tulley’s Coffee today, at Main and Wall.

Our first day drew a number of generous sidewalk tunesmiths.

Marge McFaul offered her talents on fiddle. Dave McRae and Ernie Vollmer did the guitar thing outside Boo Radley’s, 232 N. Howard. A little south of the Red Robin restaurant, Jim Lyons played guitar while his young son, Ben, added percussion and cuteness.

Too bad Brass Guys Wally Friel and Ed Robison could only make the drive to Spokane from the Moscow-Pullman area for Monday. If we could get these two playing downtown every day they’d rake in enough dough to pay for a streetcar system.

Friel, 74, is a retired Whitman County Superior Court judge. He plays trombone. Robison, 84, is a retired land developer. He’s the tuba dude.

They say they have memorized every song written before 1930.

But that’s only part of it. They are also unabashed hams who know how to win over a crowd.

When a mom walks by with her kids, for example, they swing into “Itsy Bitsy Spider” or “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” Gets a donation every time, adds Friel.

How popular were these two?

While they were playing Monday a gust of wind tipped over their donation bucket.

As Friel tells it: “Our money blew off all the way to hell and gone and Spangle.”

Not a bill was lost as a small crowd scrambled to pick it all up – and return the money.

I’m just grateful that a pitchfork-wielding mob didn’t hit me over the head and set fire to my guitar.

Nobody said breaking into show business was easy.

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