Posts Tagged ‘street roots’

Local Landmark Busker Passing

November 6, 2012

From a friend: “Word on the street is that Kirk Reese has passed on. Thank you for bringing us so much joy on Fridays at the office on 5th (where we could hear you for hours), rush hour commutes home on the Hawthorne Bridge working your expanding sphere toy, and when I randomly saw you on the #72 bus, wearing your tux and lugging a milk crate with your sparkly Mickey Mouse hat and other fun supplies. And for unfailingly grinning and waving maniacally back whenever I grinned and waved maniacally at you. You will be sorely missed. A part of me hopes this is a horrible urban rumor so that I can stop and tell you how thankful I am next time I see you.”

Another commenter: “R.I.P. I have always wanted to meet you, and hear your story. You were one of the hardest working Portlanders I have ever encountered, and every day an inspiration to me, to find my niche, and make people smile. Your cheer was a gift. I hope you have peace.”

An Oregonian article about him posted in 2010.


Article: Sidewalk use and musicians part of the larger code of courtesy

May 4, 2011

by Amanda Fritz, Contributing Writer
Posted in Street Roots May 3, 2011

Bucket drums, violins, trumpets, and keyboards: the sounds of a typical, vibrant day on the streets of Downtown Portland.  Beautiful. Yet imagine you are a worker in a nearby store or office, or a retired resident on the lower floors of an apartment building, listening to the same performer playing the same sets over and over, all day every day. Not so much fun, perhaps. Back in 1994, musicians, community members, business leaders and government agencies sat down together and created the Street Musician Agreement, seeking to maintain Downtown’s unique musical culture while respecting that Downtown is home to residents, businesses and office jobs. It achieved a workable understanding between street musicians and other Downtown interests, so each would have their needs met.The Street Musician Agreement recognizes the needs of musicians and importance of music to Portland. To give access to each performer, the agreement asks musicians to: space themselves one block apart; rotate their location every 60 minutes to allow for everyone to enjoy prime locations; and to return to a location only twice in one day after a 60 minute break. Musicians should comply with Portland’s Noise Control ordinance, which states that noise should not be audible more than 100 feet away in any direction (including vertical).  Community members are asked to treat musicians with respect and not interrupt a musician in the middle of a number.

Downtown sidewalk use was a highly contentious issue when I took office.  In 2009, my first year, I led the dialogue and hosted public meetings to discuss the former “Sit-Lie” ordinance, seeking common ground on how everyone can share Portland’s sidewalks. While finding consensus is still difficult, the animosity in the debate significantly diminished after Portlanders had the opportunity to share ideas and life experiences with one another. Through the course of public involvement and information exchange, my city colleagues and I formulated a Sidewalk Management Plan addressing multiple uses of Downtown’s sidewalks. The ordinance includes an exclusion allowing street musicians to play on any part of any sidewalk, when they comply with the Street Musician Agreement. The Sidewalk Use process paved the way for other successful public policy and strategy discussions, including the Street Musician Agreement forum.

I hosted the forum on February in response to concerns I heard from community members and street musicians that the Agreement is no longer working as intended.  Some residents and workers experience musicians playing in the same location for hours. Bucket drummers often exceed the Noise Ordinance limits.  Musicians report being harassed.  As a result, musicians, business owners, residents and government employees attended the forum to discuss how to improve the Street Musician Agreement. Most participants concluded the Agreement was written in good spirit, and improvement efforts should be focused on educating everyone about its provisions. This column is part of that effort.

The Street Musician Agreement is not law. It is an agreement reached by members of the community working together: musicians, businesses, residents, law enforcement, and public servants. It trusts people to use good judgment, kindness and courtesy towards one another. The more we as Portlanders treat one another with respect and compassion, the better our City works.

Amanda Fritz is a Portland City Commissioner. This column was co-authored by Sara Hussein, who staffs the Sharing Public Sidewalks Advisory Group and the Street Musician Agreement review process. For more information, contact Sara at 503-823-3994 or

Street Roots Article: All the World’s a Stage

February 7, 2011

All the world’s a stage: Musicians and performers vie for attention in downtown Portland sidewalks. Now the city is looking at revisiting an aging agreement on how buskers and businesses can peaceably share the spotlight.

There is a three page article in the Portland Street Roots newspaper (linked above) highlighting the upcoming Public Forum happening on Thursday February 10th. The article involves a rather involved interview by your very own, here at as well as other performers in the city.

If you get a chance this week (as new papers come out every Friday) pick one up from your local vendor. Remember that every 70 cents to the dollar goes to the vendor. Not only do you get great news about the real issues effecting downtown Portland, you’re helping someone get back up on their feet.

Non-Profit Newspaper Features Local Busker

May 2, 2010

Street Roots is published right here in Portland and has been a flagship publication addressing homelessness and poverty since 1998. The paper is published every two weeks and distributed for a dollar by homeless vendors who in turn receive 75% of their sales. Taking up half the front page of the April 30th edition is our very own “Working” Kirk Reeves, who is often seen playing his trumpet or performing comedic acts on the eastbound on-ramp to the Hawthorne Bridge.

This is a fantastic article; a complete profile of his life story and what brought him to busking as a full-time source of income. Over the next two weeks if you’re downtown, you should definitely give $1 to one of the vendors and get a copy for yourself. Past issues are featured on the website archive as PDF, but you have to wait until June.

Kirk Reeves: “I play my horn no matter what. I play if someone wants to fight me. I play if I’m scared. You’ll see me out in the rain, the cold and worse. I play in bad weather. I play when I’m tired. I play when I’m sick. If you really want to be a musician, you play no matter what!”

Related: Oregonian’s reporter Joseph Rose wrote about Kirk Reeves back in February as well.