If they start awarding Grammys for heart and high hopes, Randy Shaw could clean up next year.
Yes, that Randy Shaw – dean of Spokane TV newscasters, musician and, I’m proud to say, my friend.
A few months ago the KREM news anchor came up with an honorable idea for an even more honorable cause.
Shaw’s plan, which he will unveil in greater detail Wednesday during his 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. newscasts, was to assemble a number of local and nationally known singers and musicians who would volunteer to record a compilation CD.
The only guideline: Perform something out of the Greatest Generation’s songbook.
That’s because all proceeds from the sales and downloads of “In Your Honor” – to be officially released in late March or early April – will go to Honor Flight, one of the sweetest programs going.
Honor Flight pays the way for our veterans to see the grand memorials that were erected for them in Washington, D.C.
That we waited until 2004 to build the World War II veterans such a tribute is a real shame. By the time it was finally unveiled, many vets considered themselves too old or too short of funds to make the journey.
Honor Flight changed all that.
By the end of last year 98,500 WWII veterans (including 509 from the Inland Northwest) have been able to visit their memorial.
Time is the real enemy, of course.
One of the most depressing aspects of all these good works can be summed up with the number 800.
That’s how many WWII vets are leaving the Earth every single day.
“We’re talking about a generation of veterans that saved the world,” said Shaw, who became a believer in Honor Flight when he tagged along on one of the flights for a news story a while back.
Blown away by the respect that was shown these elderly vets, Shaw decided to get involved.
Producing this CD, he said, came out of conversations with his friend and Spokane music legend Chad Mitchell, who agreed to take part.
So Shaw began putting out calls.
The great vocalist Sammy Eubanks joined in. So did Donny York with his epic band Sha-Na-Na.
Sherman Andrus, a real-deal Grammy winner and member of the Gospel Hall of Fame, will appear on the album as well.
Eventually Shaw ran out of ideas and called me.
Now, music from my parents’ era has never exactly been my wheelhouse.
Sure, as a young trumpeter I played plenty of swing charts. But my heart belonged more to the Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel and the Beach Boys rather than Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw and Duke Ellington.
That said, how do you say “no” to such a fine and noble cause?
And so I turned to Joe Brasch, my buddy and guitar-slinging bandmate, who assembled some of his jazzer pals: keyboard whiz Danny McCollim, drummer Daniel Cox and bassist Josh Simon.
It happened on a cold Saturday morning in January. We all descended on Karl Bingle’s Mission Control recording studio north of Spokane.
You can hear one of the tracks we recorded – “September in the Rain” – at www.spokesman.com.
Why “September in the Rain”?
I chose that song in honor of my 90-year-old mom, Carol.
It was one of a few songs she could play on her piano. And play it she did. I kidded her once about hearing it 7 million times while growing up in the Clark abode.
“The leaves of brown came tumbling down …”
Then I grew up and heard the tune with a new set of ears.
Hmm. Damn fine song, I thought to myself.
So with the clock tick-tick-ticking, the cause is bright and clear.
“We want as many to see the memorial as we can,” Shaw said. “That’s the mission.”