CD and release party benefit CARR, anti-I-69 effort
The only thing that slows Michelle Henderson's cadence when she talks about last weekend's I-69 CD Release Party is the thank-you list. She doesn't miss a beat when discussing the CD — Save it — Don't Pave It! — or the party.
The disc features 19 bands, a local author and an I-69 activist — all of whom donated their art and their time. The party nearly filled the lower level of the historic Buskirk-Chumley Theatre in downtown Bloomington. Both raised money and offered moral support for the legions of Indiana citizens committed to stopping new terrain I-69. Specifically, all proceeds from the party and the CD went to Citizens for Appropriate Rural Roads.
"The hardest thing," says Henderson, who along with musicians Mitch Rice and Bruce Kell formed the committee that oversaw the two-year project, "is trying to thank everyone."
Her thank you list starts with the musicians whose work appears on Save it — Don't pave it! "It was about I-69," she says, "not, 'Where do I appear on the CD?'"
It includes volunteer graphic artists, stage managers, ushers, and others whose contributions are not so easily categorized.
"There really was a spirit of cooperation from the beginning," she says.
Henderson, a family literacy coordinator at Clear Creek Elementary School, has been a "card carrying CARR member" pretty much since she and husband Rob bought their farmhouse in southwest Monroe County in 1993. They knew about I-69 at the time, she says, but the case against it seemed overwhelming and sure to prevail.
"It seemed like a pretty good gamble," she says, enveloped by the aroma of rich organic coffee and library-like silence at the Soma Coffeehouse, noting that their family ranks have grown by four in the intervening 11 years. But as she watched the politics of I-69 evolve, the less certain their bet became.
"I've seen the rationale for this thing change so many times," she says. "I don't even know now what the justification is."
About a year before Gov. Frank O'Bannon announced an I-69 route corridor, whose centerline is 400 feet from her home, Henderson had stepped up her involvement in the anti-I-69 cause.
While she is not a musician, Henderson does have a deep appreciation for local music and has some friends in the business. She informally approached two of them — Carrie Newcomer and Beth Lodge-Rigal — and dropped the idea of doing a CD to benefit the anti-I-69 cause. They liked it.
Encouraged, Henderson approached CARR's Tom and Sandra Tokarski, who told her that others, like musicians Mitch Rice and Bruce Kell, had the same idea. The trio formed a committee.
"We sent an e-mail to the CARR list looking for musicians," she says. "That got things started."
The two-year process that produced the CD, while smooth for an all-volunteer project, did include some difficult decisions, such as cover art and what songs to include, she says. Some wanted the list to be limited to songs just about I-69, for example. Others wanted a more eclectic mix.
"We ended up with anyone who wanted to get on the bandwagon," Henderson says with a smile. "We've got 21 tracks on there."
The resulting CD is both an ode to the 14-year-old struggle against I-69 and a celebration of the local music scene and its considerable diversity.
The case for an album focused exclusively on I-69 was bolstered by the final lineup, of which more than half the cuts are in fact pieces of folk history that tell the I-69 story, like:
- I-69 Meetin' Revisited, written by Andy Ruff;
- Indiana Bat Echoing Rachel Carson, written by Sophia Travis;
- The Sound of 10,000 Trucks, written by Bruce Kell;
- Roll Back Your Road, written by Beth Lodge-Rigal;
- A Couple Minutes Time, written by Tom Roznowski;
- Talk About 69, written by Jason Wilber;
- I-69 Revisited, written by Mitch Rice;
- 69 Highway, written by Marc Haggerty;
- Cornfields and Dreams, written by Glenda, Bill and Darrell Breeden; and
- Stop I-69, written by Brandon Pussey
Most of the rest skirt the thematic edges of I-69 and Southwest Indiana, like Turn This Thing Around by Betty Dylan, When It's Gone It's Gone by Carrie Newcomer, Down the Road by Tim Grimm, All I Need Is a Driver by Krista Detor, The River Bottom by Clinton Burch, and Highway Song by Brian Winterman.
Even the seemingly unrelated South Missouri, an alt country rocker from Deke Hager, and Your Darkest Soul, a manic punk piece from Wicked Name, express the cynicism and outrage many feel after 14 years being ignored on I-69.
Save it — Don't Pave it! opens with a monologue from Andy Ruff about the I-69 political process: "Part of the state's I-69 route selection process were these public meetings they put on around SW Indiana to give information and take public input. 'Course it was all a sham. No logic or evidence or any amount of public opposition was gonna have any influence."
It's punctuated mid-album by Tom Tokarski quoting an axiom first uttered by a Southwest Indiana farmer: "We need I-69 like a dog needs another tick on its ear."
It closes with another monologue by author James Alexander Thom, whose essay Quagmire compares I-69 with the war in Iraq: "Even those few who wanted it will wish they had never got it."
Steven Higgs is editor of The Bloomington Alternative. He can be reached at
Copies of Save it —Don't Pave It! are available on the CARR Web site -- ... -- and at Bikesmiths and Pygmalion's Art Supplies in Bloomington.
See the words and music to I-69 Meetin' Revisited in this issue of The Bloomington Alternative -- bloomingtonalternative.com/subscribers/news.php?topicid=664
Among those whom Michelle Henderson did remember to thank were Brandon Hill, Ned Shaw, Meridee Lamantia, Brian Garvey, Dave Weber, Holly Graef, Melissa McReynolds, and Nell Weatherwax.