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Street Music Week returns and passes milestone donation mark for food bank

June 13, 2022 Updated Wed., July 13, 2022 at 5:03 p.m.

Kenyon Fields seeks shelter from the rain inside a doorway as he performs with his Scottish Highland bagpipes during the 20th annual Street Music Week on Monday in downtown Spokane.  (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)
Kenyon Fields seeks shelter from the rain inside a doorway as he performs with his Scottish Highland bagpipes during the 20th annual Street Music Week on Monday in downtown Spokane. (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)

Main Street in downtown Spokane turned into a bustling busking corridor Monday afternoon as Street Music Week returned for its 20th year.

This week, musicians and performers are taking to the streets of downtown Spokane, the Garland District and Coeur d’Alene to raise money for the Second Harvest Foodbank. Performers are scheduled to be performing from noon to 1 p.m. all week and can be easily identified by the bright red buckets that read “FOOD BANK DONATIONS” and “$1 = 5 MEALS.”

Organizer Doug Clark, a retired longtime columnist for The Spokesman-Review who founded the event, said more than 36 different performers braved the rain between the three areas, a much better turnout than he anticipated. Monday’s performers included Kenyon Fields and his bagpipes, Curt Donner and Key Yohannan playing rock and country classics, and the Jambonis– a ragtag group of eight musicians with an Americana feel.

In the last 19 years, Street Music Week has raised over $290,000 to help feed folks in need. Clark said the fundraiser passed the $300,000 over the weekend, thanks to a $15,000 donation from a longtime supporter of Street Music Week.

Co-organizer Jim Lyons said Monday’s busking raised around $400. He said folks also can donate online at streetmusicweek.com, or through the event’s Facebook page.

“It’s been a really good thing and I’m really proud of the way it’s grown,” Clark said. “I remember like the 15th year, I think we’d barely gotten $10,000 of donations, and then it sort of took off and we just started making more and more money for the food bank.”

The Eyer Family Band, which has participated since 2012, made a return to Street Music Week on Monday. Carey Eyer, Lara Hemingway and their daughters Neilia Eyer and Ivy Eyer set up inside the Lincoln Barber Shop. Patrons were treated to American folk classics sung by Ivy and Neilia, who play the accordion and violin, respectively.

Fields played his bagpipes in front of the Nike outlet store downtown, trying to find a little cover from the rain. He said he has participated several times over the years, and his daughters used to showcase their Highland dance skills when they were young.

Across the street, the Jambonis played a wide variety of tunes, working in solo runs for each of the band members. Vocalist Sandi Shirts said the group has been playing together for around six years. They get together at accordion player Art Bookstrom’s house every Sunday, and different musicians join when they can find the time.

Clarinetist Larry Weiser said he has played with mandolinist Bob Dryzmkowski and bassist Dan Schaffer since the 1980s, when the group had a band called The Rhythm Method.

“Well, it’d be nice if there were better weather, but it’s fun to do this,” Schaffer said. “I think it’s a great cause and we’re thankful for Doug for putting it all together.”

Haley Vick, who works near the street corner where the Jambonis were performing, wandered down from her office to listen to the band play. She said she never knows when Street Music Week is until she hears the music drifting up to her office window.

“I just think it’s great to be able to come out here and hear all different kinds of music,” Vick said.

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