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Doug Clark: Street Music Week bringing out the best of Spokane

Rare Earth's Peter Rivera is expected to play for the lunch crowd during Street Music Week on Thursday. COLIN MULVANY (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Rare Earth's Peter Rivera is expected to play for the lunch crowd during Street Music Week on Thursday. COLIN MULVANY (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Doug Clark, columnist

My friend Myles Kennedy has done the sort of cool things that every guitar-picking rock star wannabe dreams of.

Touring with his band Alter Bridge in the United Kingdom, Kennedy has performed several times to crowds swelling to 100,000-plus.

He has been a presenter at the Billboard Music Awards. He once rehearsed for a special music project with Led Zeppelin rock gods Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones.

And Wednesday, I’m proud to say, I found Kennedy singing to about 40 fans who lined the sidewalk near Spokane’s downtown Starbucks store.

“And who – is gonna save you when I’m gone?”


Kennedy, for the first time, took part in Street Music Week, which runs through Friday during the noon hours.

The event, the 14th annual, puts volunteer musicians and entertainers on the sidewalks to raise money for the Second Harvest food bank. Simultaneous satellite events are going on in the Garland District and in Coeur d’Alene.

“This was the first time I got to see how it worked,” said Kennedy, who is usually on tour when the second full week of June rolls around. This “has a fantastic vibe overall, people using their gifts to raise money for a good cause.”

“It’s just a fabulous event for this town.”

The weather warmed up Wednesday, thank God.

Tuesday felt like the next Ice Age had descended on us, which is definitely not a plus for donations. When it’s cold, normally curious pedestrians keep their heads down and their hands in their pockets.

They cruise by the red collection buckets without giving the poor sidewalk minstrels so much as a compassionate nod.

No eye contact. Keep moving.

Wednesday’s event attracted 61 musicians ranging from the (French) Horn Club to a woman who played the hammered dulcimer to the Ukestra ukulele orchestra to a male barbershop quartet, the Mane Event.

As always, my friends from the Donner Party band were rocking out.

A flute choir. A renaissance ensemble. Bluegrassers galore …

One of the great things about Street Music Week is the eclectic nature of the performers.

Thursday, Peter Rivera, former lead singer of Rare Earth, will sing his megahits near the Starbucks site at Main Avenue and Post Street.

On Friday, my brother Dave’s saxophone quartet – the Three Rivers Saxtette – will make the trip from the Tri-Cities to take part in Street Music Week.

Dave became a little nervous when I told him about another sax quartet that is supposed to play here on the same day.

There must be some cosmic force at work. Street Music Week has gone for years without any saxophone quartets. Now we’re up to our earlobes in them.

I told my bro that the only thing that makes sense is to have listeners vote with their wallets for their favorite sax quartet. The group raking in the most dough will be the winner, and the losers must drive home without any pants.

Or not. I’ll think of something.

Also on Friday, Rob Vaughn, the great singer/guitarist mainstay for the Coeur d’Alene Resort, will play in downtown Spokane.

Don’t miss this chance to hear a true master of his craft. But if you can’t make it you can always donate to Second Harvest through our website, www.streetmusic

“It was a really fun experience,” said Kennedy of his debut as a street musician. “I was probably more nervous than the last time I played for 100,000 people.

“But having things like this that benefit the community are just crucial. It helps bring people together for all the right reasons.”

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