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Doug Clark: Donations big and small set another music week record

Fiddler Jan Giesa, right, plays Celtic tunes with the Kitchen String Band in front of a downtown Spokane store on Main Avenue in 2015 during Street Music Week, a busking festival to raise money for Second Harvest. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
Fiddler Jan Giesa, right, plays Celtic tunes with the Kitchen String Band in front of a downtown Spokane store on Main Avenue in 2015 during Street Music Week, a busking festival to raise money for Second Harvest. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

Do you believe in happy, sappy endings?

I didn’t – until last Friday, that is.

What took place a little after 1 p.m. on a sidewalk in downtown Spokane was cornier than a Lifetime movie.

It went like this:

The 13th annual Spokane Street Music Week came to a close.

Joe Brasch, my band mate and psychic adviser, strummed our final guitar chords and said so long to the people who had gathered at our spot near Main and Post.

Someone from Second Harvest food bank handed me an envelope, which I tore open … and gasped.

I held a $10,000 check, our biggest single donation to date.

The gift boosts this year’s tally to $27,421, another record for the charity event that saw 250 generous, good-hearted musicians and performers take to the sidewalks of downtown Spokane, the Garland District and Coeur d’Alene.

Last year’s total set the bar at $25,458 and since Street Music Week began, more than $118,000 has been raised for the fight against hunger.

My mind is officially boggled.

The big check, by the way, came from John Huckabay. The North Idaho businessman and philanthropist has become Street Music Week’s biggest benefactor.

Before leaving the country for work, he dropped the check off at Second Harvest with instructions to have it delivered to me on the final day.

We needed John this year more than ever.

The heat wave early in the week siphoned shoppers and pedestrians away from downtown. Or maybe they were all attending a secret meeting.

Whatever the case, donations during the first couple of days of Street Music Week were somewhat lower than usual. By Thursday, I was having serious doubts about coming close to that 2014 mark.

Being wrong never felt so right.

As usual, those who took part had a great time. And maybe nobody more than Josh Burrows, whose guitar and karaoke act managed to bring in $3,000.

Other large donations included a $1,000 gift from Kootenai Health and $750 from Community Health Association of Spokane.

This year produced plenty of memorable moments, like …

After setting up his drum kit to back Peter Rivera, Daniel Cox realized he had forgotten something.


This was the sort of thing that would rattle a lesser player. Cox, however, is a pro’s pro.

Although some real drumsticks would eventually be provided thanks to Charlie Lee, Cox managed to make do in the meantime by playing with a pair of wooden coat hangers that he borrowed from a nearby shop.

• Speaking of Rivera, the former lead singer for Rare Earth once again wowed a substantial crowd with his hits like “Get Ready,” “Celebrate” and “Born to Wander.”

The guy gets better and better.

• Once again, we received a coin-and-bill-filled baggie from Bonnie and Harry Larrison, aka the Street Walkers. The change was gleaned by the couple during their daily walks.

“Here’s a year’s worth of street money for street music,” read the message on the baggie.

• Anita, one of my high school classmates, came all the way downtown just to see me.

At least I thought she did.

“My mother’s your biggest fan,” she explained, pointing her out.

And now for some much-deserved thanks.

At the top of the list is Jim Lyons, who serves as my right-hand street music field marshal.

Lyons not only attended to a zillion details, but also found time to write a feature about the event for Spokane/Coeur d’Alene Living magazine.

You can also watch his independent film about Street Music Week at www.streetmusicweek. com.

Julie Shepard-Hall expertly kept the event rolling for the third year in the historic Garland District.

Dr. Ben Perschau served as point man in Coeur d’Alene.

This, by the way, was the second year for Lake City Street Music Week. We dedicated this year to the memory of Greg Moore, the Coeur d’Alene police sergeant who was killed in the line of duty.

Moore, a friend of Lyons, helped get the event started in Coeur d’Alene.

Thanks also to The Spokesman-Review marketing department; graphic artist Nita Alexander (the posters and artwork never looked better); Mary Beth Donelan, our official SMW money manager; and Matt Monroe, who created another appealing batch of busker buttons.

One last thought. It’s easy to lose track of what’s important with all the big numbers being tossed around.

But consider this: Street Music Week 2015 donations will translate to more than 137,000 much-needed meals.

See you next year.

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