The 21st annual Street Music Week kicked off Monday morning with a dozen performers lining the sidewalks of downtown Spokane’s Main Street.
With the sun rising and lunch time approaching, many of the musicians arrived half an hour ahead of schedule.
This is the second year the event has been held due to the pandemic, but the first without co-organizer Jim Lyons, who passed away in November.
Dressed in classic costumes, bluegrass guitar duo Jimmy Shores and Merlin Laffoon are a popular sight on the corner of Maine and Wall, with many passers-by watching and recording to raise money for Second Harvest. was throwing a few bucks into the event’s iconic red bucket. food bank. We both knew Lyons well and were deeply shocked by his death.
“Jim was my best friend, which means our kids grew up together. I drive his car. I wear his socks,” Shores said. I cried when I heard the name Lyons.
“I brought this,” he said, holding his sunglasses. “If you want to cry, just cry.”
Laffoon felt the same while playing the Lions part in the music.
“In honor of him and his encouragement, I am playing better than ever before,” he said.
A microphone was placed next to the pair, a piece of the Lions’ scarf was decoratively wrapped around the stand, and a small memorial was placed underneath.
“He’s here on the mic stand,” Shores said.
Carrie Iyer, the new organizer of Street Music Week, who took over from founder Doug Clark earlier this year, made a similar statement.
“When we signed up, a lot of people said, ‘We’re doing this for Jim.'”
Lions have been a longtime concern of many street performers, but the event was anything but gloomy, with the sounds of guitars and other musical instruments replacing the usual hustle and bustle of the city. Last Monday was rainy and gray, but the weather was perfect, giving musicians and bystanders alike reason to celebrate.
The Ayer Family Band, who have been a staple at the event for over a decade, were a big hit with Ivy, 12, and Neilia, 14, playing accordion and mandolin.
Kurt Donner, a 17-year street music week veteran, appeared with his wife Keys to perform guitar, tambourine and vocal acts in front of Bruchy.
They emphasized the importance of service and the event’s continued support for Second Harvest.
“We help them help others,” Donner said. “Isn’t there a better reason?”
As of 2022, over $315,000 has been raised for food banks throughout the event’s 20-year history. Street Music Week takes place on Main Street from noon to 1pm every day through Friday.