Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Taking it to the streets of Coeur d'Alene

Staff Writer | June 11, 2024 1:06 AM

COEUR d’ALENE — Linda Hitt was hard to miss Monday afternoon.

The violinist was wearing a bright yellow chicken outfit as she performed at Fourth and Sherman, turning out her version of “Red Wing” on a sunny day.

People stopped to watch and listen, which is what Hitt wanted on the opening day of the 22nd annual Street Music Week.

“That’s the whole idea,” she said. “It’s all about fun, and it’s a good opportunity to be out and see people for a good cause, give you a chance to play. I’ve got friends out here.”

Hitt was one of about 10 musicians who took up posts in downtown Coeur d’Alene for Second Harvest food bank.

Volunteers will be playing country, classical, rock and roll, gospel and bluegrass daily from noon to 1 p.m. this week in downtown Coeur d'Alene, Spokane and the Garland District.

Past performers have included everyone from Grammy award-winning artists to kids who have completed their first two violin lessons. They pick a spot and set out donation buckets. Some sing. Some dance. All make music.

Since the event started two decades ago, it has raised about $320,000 for Second Harvest, which serves North Idaho and Eastern Washington.

“Collectively, sharing of musical talent and donations of money from generous community members have provided over 1.5 million meals to the families of Spokane and Idaho's five northern counties,” wrote organizer Jenny Wayman.

Eleven-year-old Esther Van Wyk of Coeur d’Alene played her violin near Third and Sherman.

The Coeur d’Alene girl, with her mom and little sister standing nearby, had no fears about performing in front of people.

“Not really,” she said.

Brad Sondahl of Spirit Lake and Al Riendeau of Coeur d’Alene sat next to each other in Coeur d’Alene Rotary Centennial Park, with Sondahl on the banjo and Riendeau, the guitar.

The friends have volunteered in previous years for Street Music Week, which they said starts slow and builds to a crescendo by Friday.

“How could you not want to do something for Second Harvest?” Riendeau said. “Go out and play and get a little money for the food bank. That’s what it’s all about." 

One musician hit a sour note at Street Music Week.

Jim Bean was playing at Third and Sherman in front of The Plaza Shops when police asked if he had a permit and said he couldn’t be using amplification. 

Bean went and found Wayman for guidance, but when he returned to his post, he was told by another person he couldn’t play there, so he packed up his things early to leave.

Bean said he had participated in Street Music Week before and never had any trouble.

“Needless to say, I’m disappointed it didn’t work out and I’m confused, too,” he said.

Wayman apologized and said she would follow up to see what happened.

Coeur d’Alene Police Capt. Dave Hagar told The Press while he couldn’t address Bean’s specific situation, he said performers are not supposed to use amplification, obstruct an entry to a business and can’t disrupt business.

Steve Wyttree of Post Falls was wearing shades and a cowboy hat as he played a mix of original music and popular hits.

He’s a Street Music Week veteran.

“It’s kind of a privilege to be able to entertain people,” he said. 

    Esther Van Wyk of Coeur d’Alene plays her violin near Third and Sherman on Monday for Street Music Week to benefit Second Harvest.
    Brad Sondahl, left, and Al Riendeau sit next to each other in Coeur d’Alene Rotary Centennial Park as they perform for Street Music Week on Monday.
    Steve Wyttree of Post Falls performs on Sherman Avenue on Monday for the start of Street Music Week.