It’s incredibly satisfying to see someone’s idea go from humble pitch to home run.
But from the second Randy Shaw told me what he was planning, I knew that “In Your Honor” would be an out-of-the-park blast.
That’s the title my longtime friend and KREM-TV news anchor chose for a compilation CD to benefit Honor Flight, the great program that pays for veterans to visit the grand memorials that were erected for them in Washington, D.C.
Shaw invited a number of nationally and locally known musicians (myself included) to record a tune or two for the project, which we did over a few weeks last winter at Karl Bingle’s Mission Control Records studio.
The songs, he said, should appeal to that group that has been dubbed the Greatest Generation.
And so the moment of truth arrived Tuesday evening.
A CD release party was held at the Canaan Buffet in north Spokane, with many of the performers there to autograph copies and greet the buyers who, to our incredulity and delight, kept coming and coming and …
Two hours later, Shaw confirmed that more than 300 CDs had been sold. Add those to the 300 sales that had already come in as pre-orders.
But wait, there’s more.
Word has it that the first run of 1,500 CDs has mostly sold out.
And on Wednesday afternoon, Shaw announced that “In Your Honor” was No. 21 in nationwide CD sales in the “easy listening” category and No. 37 for “Broadway and vocalists.”
How cool is that?
Of course, I was happier than a crow in a cornfield just to be in the same company Tuesday night with Spokane’s great Chad Mitchell.
Time hasn’t altered Mitchell’s world-class chops any. He sang a passionate rendition of “Over the Rainbow” for the album.
The evening’s real high point?
That was getting to meet some of the veterans who dropped in.
Navy man Bud Scott, say.
The 89-year-old said he served as radio technician “on four different ships” during World War II.
“And I’m still walking without a pushcart, too,” Scott added with a confident grin.
Then came this burly guy. He was decked out in a jacket and cap that identified him as a two-tour Vietnam War vet, an Army Airborne Ranger, no less.
Randy Howard, recipient of five purple hearts.
“I did duck,” he said with a laugh. “But it didn’t do any good.”
Howard said he was wounded “from the top of my head to the tip of my toes.” He suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, and the memory of getting shot in the head by a sniper still wakes him up at night.“You can’t ever forget it; you can’t put it away,” he said. “But I try not to let it get me down.”
That got me. But what got to me even more was when Howard told me why he came to our little party. He wanted to buy a CD in honor of his late father, Max.
Howard said his dad, who died in 1993, served in World War II as a paratrooper with the 17th Airborne.
If you haven’t bought a copy of “In Your Honor” ($14.95), keep checking Rosauers grocery stores.
The CD features actual hits like the late Charlie Ryan’s famous “Hot Rod Lincoln” and “Rock and Roll is Here to Stay,” by Sha Na Na.
There’s also tunes from Shaw, Sammy Eubanks, Dennis Washburn, Seldom Scene, Grammy winner Sherman Andrus with Lonny Bingle, yours truly, and even a track from the Winton Elementary Special Chorus.
“The music is fabulous,” Libby Queen said. “The reason it was made was just icing on the cake.”
I met Queen on Tuesday night. She came to buy a CD for her father, Robert K. Rowe, who took an Honor Flight to the nation’s capital with his grandson, Robert, in 2011.
Rowe, 91, served in the U.S. Army and was shot in France in 1945, she said.
Queen still has the telegram that was sent home telling that Robert had been wounded.
“My father was rather quiet, more humbled and in awe with all of it,” said Queen of her dad’s Honor Flight.
He is one of nearly 99,000 veterans (including 509 from the Inland Northwest) who have made the trip. Every one of these warriors should get a chance to go while they still can.
“To see them come back, the tears in their eyes. It’s worth every dollar that any of us can donate.”
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