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Doug Clark: Tune up your fiddles and polish your flutes, because Street Music Week is around the corner.

 (John Stucke / The Spokesman-Review)
(John Stucke / The Spokesman-Review)

Picked up the new posters on Friday. New 2017 souvenir busker buttons are ready to go.

Can’t find the red collection buckets, but I’m sure they’ll turn up somewhere.

Mayoral proclamation is in the works. Depending, of course, on how The Man Behind the Curtain is feeling about me.

All we need now is for you – the many pickers and singers and fiddlers and dancers and horn players – to mark the dates June 12-16.

We’re just three weeks and small change away from unleashing Spokane’s 15th annual Street Music Week.

Cue the confetti!

The annual event always takes place during the noon hours of Monday through Friday.

Performers and entertainers can participate one day or every day on the sidewalks of downtown Spokane, the Garland District and over in Coeur d’Alene. (See below for contact details.)

The one commonality is that everyone shares their talents to raise money for the 2nd Harvest food bank to help feed the hungry. Donations can be made year-round at www.streetmusicweek.com.

This will hopefully be a milestone year. With a little luck we’ll hit or pass the $175,000 mark in total donations collected since Street Music Week began with just me strumming my guitar around downtown like a vagabond minstrel.

My intentions were semi-pure, as usual.

I didn’t set out to start a tradition, but to make a humorous comment on the then-wretched caliber of our sidewalk serenade.

Back then we had one extremely bored-looking guy with a cheap plastic recorder.

He sat on a stool near the Bon Marche, playing tunelessly while he read a book.

That’s not street performance. That’s just lazy panhandling.

So I went out strumming for five days during the noon hours, trying to at least show up that fool. To my utter astonishment, I collected $503 from folks who apparently took pity on me.

It wasn’t a fortune, true.

But when I carted the dough over to 2nd Harvest, they told me they could turn it into 3,000 pounds of food.

Now, that’s some magic trick.

A few days later an editor, sharing my surprise, offered a suggestion. Why not do the whole thing over again next year, he urged, but this time open it up to others?

Street Music Week was born.

Here’s the crazy thing about mathematical progression.

Years pass. More and more performers get involved, some 300-plus during an average week.

As a bonus, more and more money is raised, the figure currently edging past the $150,000 mark.

But the need keeps growing as well.

While I was dropping off some of those posters at 2nd Harvest Friday, Julie Humphreys, the food bank community relations manager, recited some sobering statistics.

2nd Harvest now feeds 55,000 people per week through their meal sites and food programs. At one church in Spokane Valley, people regularly wait in long lines for food.

“It’ll bring you to tears,” said Humphreys. “These are very nice people, many of them elderly, many on limited Social Security, many of them working poor.”

So come and help the cause. Loan your talents for an hour or so on the sidewalks.

Contact me through the information below if you’ve never taken part in a Street Music Week.

I’ll put your email address in our database and keep you posted on where to show up to get your red buckets and busker button.

And remember that all skill levels are welcome.

To quote the Street Music Week motto: “It’s not about virtuosity; it’s about generosity.”

<line4Pwide><QC>Contact the writer:<QC>(509) 459-5432<QC>dougc@spokesman.com<QC>