by Mike Corrigan

Randy Shaw leads a double life. From behind a desk, he's played the part of a respected TV news anchorman. But lose the tie and put a Fender Telecaster in his hands, and he's transformed into something else entirely. He becomes a performer, and as such, a conduit for the country and early rock and roll influences that were such a formative part of his youth. Shaw and his sister (band founder) LeeAnne Katzer come by their love of music via their father, Bud Burrows, himself a successful country performer and one-time Spokane media personality.

"We grew up with country music," says Shaw, "with our dad playing on KGA radio. He had a regular half-hour program there in the early '50s that he did every morning live. I used to get up in the morning and go to school listening to him. He sang with Dottie West and Merle Haggard, all those guys. And he was a real cowboy -- a bronc rider, a bull rider and a cowboy singer. The real thing."

Country music aficionados as well as fans of Shaw's "on air" persona will get an opportunity to hear what THE RANDY SHAW BAND is all about this Saturday night at The Met. The show will benefit the Debut for the Arts Scholarships (which are awarded to deserving area high school seniors) and will feature some new original work by Shaw and his bandmates -- Katzer on bass, Mike Gibson on drums, Rick Podlas and Jack Nixon on guitar and Dennis Washburn on piano.

"We're very proud of our originals," says Shaw. "We really have some prolific songwriters in the band, so we're going to be introducing a lot of originals. When you're doing your own stuff and the audience is going for it and you can sense that, it's really the ultimate."

On that note, it's appropriate to give all of you potential concertgoers a heads up. Be forewarned that the festivities at the Saturday night's show will be recorded -- audience responses and all. After the concert, the band will choose 10 to 12 songs from the recording and release them as a "Live at The Met" CD.

"There's an electricity about a live performance that you just can't get in a studio," Shaw explains.

Of course, "live" recording means living dangerously -- accepting the unexpected, spontaneous and random elements that frequently crop up whenever a group of musicians come together and play.

"We'll sound check to get all the levels right and then we're off and running. And if we make a mistake," laughs Shaw, "Well..."

As popular as the Randy Shaw Band is on the local state and county fair circuit, Shaw admits his popularity as a local TV news anchor (he returns to televised news on KREM in May) at times overshadows his musical aspirations. The name of the band itself is a result of the band members' resignation over Shaw's inescapably widespread name recognition. He laughs at the suggestion that it's an ego thing.

"We tried to call it other things. And everybody just referred to it as the Randy Shaw Band, and so we said, 'Okay. We'll give up the fight.' "

Actually, Shaw's television fame has the potential to work against the band. Die-hard country fans and rock and rollers, for instance, typically don't give a hoot about the aura of television stardom. Case in point: the band's first gig.

"The first time we played," says Shaw, "we decided we better go out of town and try the band out. So we practiced and practiced and went to the Ritzville Rodeo. Well, sitting down in the audience were all these real bull riders and bronc riders -- I mean these guys were real cowboys. They looked up at me, and I could see the look in their face. It was like, 'Okay, TV guy, let's see if you can play country.' It made me a little nervous, but once we fired up the band, everything was fine."

So which career gives Shaw the greatest personal satisfaction? "Without a doubt, playing before a live audience. It's magic, just absolute magic. When you're doing news or radio, you're on a microphone and there are very few people around. But a live audience -- and a live audience that responds to you, singing back to you, dancing to you or clapping their hands -- you just can't beat that. That's why we all do it."

The Randy Shaw Band gives a Debut for the Arts benefit performance on Saturday, March 24, at 8 pm. Tickets: $10. Call: 325-SEAT.

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