The idea had been percolating in different quarters for a few years.
Teacher, producer, songwriter and guitarist Joe Brasch has seen that there are children in Spokane who want to learn an instrument. Rock musician Myles Kennedy – a former student of Brasch’s – and his wife, Selena, had thought it would be great to find a way to give back to Spokane.
The two met for lunch, Brasch said, and from it came Future Song, a new nonprofit dedicated to making music education accessible to young people in the Spokane area.
“This is a local organization designed to help kids in our area who can’t afford an instrument or a teacher, or (to help) a program that needs to be funded,” Brasch said. “The money’s going to stay here.”
To that end, Kennedy – lead singer of Alter Bridge who has played with Slash and scored his first record deal in the mid-’90s with the Mayfield Four – will headline a benefit show on Thursday to raise money for the new nonprofit. Joining Kennedy in the acoustic show will be Peter Rivera, former singer and drummer of the band Rare Earth, along with Brasch and friends.
“We see a lot more need in the community,” Brasch said. “The schools are renting the instruments, and there are parents who can’t afford it. Stuff gets broken and it can’t be fixed. Teachers can’t be hired. Programs are going away. We thought, there is a need. That’s why we’re doing what we’re doing.”
Kennedy, speaking from Munich, where he’s on tour with Alter Bridge in support of their latest album, “The Last Hero,” said his goal is to help Spokane’s kids have the same kind of access to music that he did when he was young. His parents were supportive of his interest, and he knows that not everyone has that.
“It breaks my heart to think that someone who is yearning to express themselves musically can’t make that happen,” he said.
Kennedy, a self-described “band geek” when he was a student at Mead High School in the ’80s, points to studies that show music education can nurture self-esteem, foster problem-solving skills, and has correlation to math. But it’s more than that, he said. “It was oxygen to me, and still is.
“In my own life, it definitely gave me purpose and it helped me find my identity and brought me an immeasurable amount of joy and satisfaction,” he added. “I cannot fathom life without it.”
Future Song officially formed in August 2015. Its board consists of the Kennedys, Brasch and Jeff Maichel, a Spokane accountant. Their first effort was to fund a ukulele program through the Boys and Girls Club in Spokane. “I did have the pleasure of playing with them at the Boys and Girls Club fundraiser,” Brasch said. “There’s nothing like seeing really young kids, to these big burly football player guys all playing the ukulele. It was a total blast.”
The show next week, Kennedy said, will be just him a few acoustic guitars. He plans to play some of the songs he’s written with Slash, and tunes by Alter Bridge. Maybe, just maybe, there will be an old Mayfield Four song, too.
He’s looking forward to playing for his hometown friends and fans. He and Alter Bridge played the Rock Hard at the Park show in Post Falls in August. Aside from that, it’s been awhile since he played in Spokane.
“I feel like I don’t get to play home nearly enough,” he said. “Hopefully this will help satiate this need to some point.”