Rockford native’s fishing album supports clean rivers

• Record label owner Randy Joe Heavin dedicates 50 percent of Songs from the Tackle Box sales to Recycled Fish

By Shauna Ubersox
Staff Writer

Fishing out on the river with your friends is a great way to pass the time. Fishing in a polluted river, not so much. Randy Joe Heavin, Air Force retiree, musician and record label owner, is helping clean up the water through singing — along with some help from friends.

Raised in Rockford, Heavin attended Auburn High School, then went on to enlist in the Air Force in 1984. His tenure in the service included time spent in many different locations and earned him a good deal of merit medals. After 21 years of flight, Heavin retired as a Senior Master Sergeant to pursue his love of music.

Heavin travels the country, performing to crowds both large and small. He has thrown himself into his musical career, becoming involved in many facets of the industry, including creating a small part for his own. Patriot Records, the record label of which Heavin is both founder and CEO, has been active since 2005. Besides Heavin’s own works, the Oklahoma-based label represents Gov’t Plant, whose debut album was just released under the Patriot name.

Part of Heavin’s musical journey took him to become involved with an organization called Recycled Fish. Recycled Fish, founded in 2004, began as a “Catch and Release” advocacy group — meaning, go have fun and fish, but don’t keep more than you need. However, the group grew into something much bigger.

It’s not over-the-top environmentalism, it’s what the average guy can do — picking up your trash, and we teach the kids about taking care of the water. Whatever we can do,” said Heavin.

Recycled Fish promotes an eco-friendly lifestyle, and one that anyone can sustain. One person can make a difference just by reducing their water use, picking up trash when they are out on the water — even if it isn’t their own — and they use non-toxic and biodegradable tackle.

With more than 11,000 “stewards,” as the organization calls them, listed in 2009 — people who protect the water and encourage others to do the same — Recycled Fish hopes to limit human impact on the environment so generations after this can enjoy the same things. Recycled Fish has many corporate, media and other cause-oriented supporters who believe in their stewardship of the environment.

And so, out of a million fishermen, a movement was born. That’s where Randy Joe Heavin and Patriot Records come in.

Presented by Patriot Records, Songs from the Tackle Box is a compilation of 12 artists who have written songs about the sport and pastime they love — fishing. The collection was created to benefit Recycled Fish — indeed, 50 percent of all proceeds from sales go to the organization. That is a pretty big percentage.

To be honest, we’re just now getting to the point where it breaks even on production costs,” said Heavin. “Now, as people download songs from iTunes and buy it directly, we’re gaining money, and 50 percent of proceeds will go to Recycled Fish. We’re just grassroots people.”

All the songs were carefully selected by Heavin, who screened hundreds of potential songs and contacted many different people to get the perfect mix. The compilation is perfect for the Recycled Fish standard, because it’s all about enjoying what you do and taking care of the water and land around you — stewardship and protection.

We wanted to have a good mix,” said Heavin. “That’s what the CD is about, letting the dirty river flow towards you. People let their garbage flow away like nothing matters. You’d think differently if the dirty river ran the other way.”

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From the July 4-10, 2012, issue

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