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Doug Clark: Thank you: Music taps soul of city

The ninth annual Spokane Street Music Week will be remembered for a lot of record setting.

As in …

The windiest. The coldest.

The wettest.

Our annual food bank fundraiser, which ended Friday, features a variety of entertainers who perform during the noon hours throughout the downtown sidewalks of Spokane.

Oh, sure. We’ve had some lousy weather in the past. But the first four days of last week qualified as one giant shiver fest.

Participation this year not only required dedication, but thermal underwear.

But here’s a record none of us expected to see connected to this year’s Spokane Street Music Week.

Most money raised.

No kidding. We were boosted by some large and unexpected online donations to Second Harvest food bank via our website, www.streetmusic

Add to this a record-setting $1,200 Friday and we arrive at this eye-popping total:


We crushed last year’s record $4,272.06 haul by nearly three grand.

How crazy is that?

I’ll be honest. Nobody has been more amazed by the growth of Street Music Week than yours truly.

It all began in 2003 with just me strumming my guitar around town on a lark.

I decided to give the $503 I took in to the food bank for one simple reason: There is no finer cause than feeding the hungry.

Then an editor offered an idea. Why not try it again the following year, but invite other musicians and performers to join in?

Nine years of strumming, singing and tooting later …

Street Music Week has pumped $27,166.09 into the food bank.

I’ve always been lousy at math. But even I can figure this problem out.

If Second Harvest can buy 6 pounds of food for every donated dollar, our street music contributions equal some 81 tons of sustenance.

Spokane Street Music Week is obviously a collaborative effort and there are a lot of people who deserve kudos.

Such as:

• The Spokesman-Review marketing department for providing promotional support, as well as graphics ace Nita Alexander for designing our posters and badges.

• My newsroom buddy Mary Beth Donelan once again sorted, counted and tabulated all the coins and bills.

• Thanks once more to Matt Monroe of Button Up, the official Clark column badge maker.

• And thanks to our City Hall vocalists, Mayor Mary Verner and City Council President Joe Shogan.

• And let’s not forget rock legend Peter Rivera, former lead singer of Rare Earth, who wowed the crowd with his monster hits like “Get Ready.”

• Also special thanks to Alan Brill, my friend and businessman.

He once again donated several pieces of autographed baseball memorabilia to Street Music Week. The items brought in $740 at a recent food bank auction.

In the early years of Street Music Week I could thank each and every performer by name. That’s no longer possible. But I hope everybody who took part knows how grateful I am for their willingness to pitch in.

Street Music Week wouldn’t work without volunteers like 78-year-old Sarah De Ryan.

De Ryan, who plays the concertina, has been a street music regular for years. She’s also an emissary for the event wherever she goes.

One day last week, for example, De Ryan got in a conversation about Street Music Week while riding a city bus home.

Two of the passengers were so impressed that they handed her 15 bucks.

I can’t think of a better way to close today than by quoting from the email I received from Kathleen Pollock.

“I’ve brought my grandson (5) down the past two years,” she wrote.

“He has cerebral palsy and it hurts for him to walk even a block without resting. But he doesn’t want to stop till he hears all the musicians and puts $ into the buckets to help the hungry.

“His words: ‘I’m luckier than they are; I get to eat.’ ”

Wow. Let’s do it again next year.

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

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