The streets of Spokane don’t know what they’re missing this week.
With Street Music Week gone online this year due to COVID-19, Bob Hoover – like plenty of other performers – is posting videos on the event’s Facebook page to help raise money for local food bank Second Harvest . And he’s got quite the selection to choose from.
Hoover, a stand-up comedian, musician, ventriloquist and self-described “all-around entertainer”, grew up in Spokane but moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in show business. So he was never around during the second week in June for the annual Street Music Week, run by childhood friend and sometime musical collaborator Doug Clark.
He returned to Spokane after decades away in November, and was looking forward to finally participating in the fabled Street Music Week this summer . When he first got back , he “hit a rough patch,” during which he took advantage of Second Harvest’s services.
Hoover said he was looking forward to repaying the favor by raising some funds. His plans, like so many other performers’, were crushed, but he’s still having a great time participating virtually.
The clips Hoover has shared to the event page over the last few days of Street Music Week showcase some of his many, many talents. He plays the William Tell Overture using his arm as a musical instrument, the sound of which he described as “like a sick tuba, or someone with gastric issues.” He yodels with one of his cast of puppets, Ozzie the dog. He performs a one-man skit in multiple personas and costumes.
If he were able to perform in person, Hoover said downtown Spokane would be treated to a mix of all of the above, plus harmonica, guitar, keyboard and trombone.
Hoover found his passion for entertainment as a kid performing puppet shows for his sixth-grade class. As a college student, he performed a show for residents of Spokane’s Union Gospel Mission. It was supposed to be a gospel performance, but he broke into James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain” instead, which the residents absolutely loved.
“That’s the main reason I do anything I do,” Hoover said. “I’ve always been an entertainer.”
Ever since that performance, Hoover has traveled the country performing wherever he could. He and Clark toured for a couple of years as a folk-gospel duo and even made an album together. More recently, he performed his eclectic mix of comedy and music for church groups and community centers, as well as teaching science to kids using stand-up comedy. Hoover was even on “America’s Got Talent” once - though the producers cut some of his best jokes, he said.
Currently, Hoover is polishing up old material and writing new routines at home. He’s excited to finally be a part of Street Music Week next year, but in the meantime he hopes his videos tide Spokane over.
“I’m looking forward to being part of such a great thing,” Hoover said. “I’m looking forward to being able to just perform in person again. But at very least, hopefully someone finds my videos funny.”
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