Denver’s music expressed love of fellowman, country, nature and love of family.

Once again it was a Rocky Mountain Christmas in the San Bernardino Mountains by Jim Curry and his Band. Over the years, the Curry’s including the band members have become a part of an extended family in the mountain community. Entertaining audiences throughout the country with the familiar music of singer/songwriter John Denver, Jim Curry has continued to carry out Denver’s legacy.

When invited to meet Jim and Anne Curry at the home of Chad Michell Trio Bass-singer Joe Frazier a few years ago, I was so impressed by the generosity and kindness of this couple. After leaving the introductory gathering, I reflected that those two new friends were exactly like I would’ve expected John Denver to be, had I met him. John Denver’s sudden death in an aircraft accident saddened the world in 1997. Denver’s music expressed love of fellowman, country, nature and love of family.

Family is of the utmost importance to the Curry’s as well as their band members: Chris Wills, Gene Wagner, Diane Ireland and Tom Williams. When performing, Jim Curry and his Band come across to their audiences as one whole, harmonizing family. The music of John Denver has been a welcomed part of life for thousands since the 80’s. Jim Curry has capitalized on this and delivered his music as a tribute to Denver, to audiences everywhere.

Questioning Anne Curry about, ‘How do you do it? How do you keep the family image so consistent?’ Audiences quickly pick-up on being real, being genuine, being themselves, a team effort performance. Do we, the audience know what goes on behind the scene? Jim and Anne met over 40 years ago, when they were kids and eventually their childhood friendship developed into a lifelong love affair.

The Curry’s met flutist Diane Ireland, a resident of Colorado Springs, at the Annual John Denver Gathering in Aspen, fourteen years ago. Once they heard her play her flute they just knew they had to ask her to play in the band! Diane was a big fan of John Denver’s and she knew all of the flute parts to Denver’s music. Jim and Anne strongly believe that the flute is the soul of John Denver music, and so they continue to make the flute a focal point in their concerts.

Keyboard player, Chris Wills lives in La Habra, California. Twenty years ago, before Jim and Anne started playing John Denver music full-time, they met Chris who had a gig at a craft fair. After Chris introduced himself and expressed an interest in joining the Curry’s band, they checked Chris out online. They nearly fell on the floor….he was so highly, musically educated! Jim and Anne looked at each other questioning, “Why would he want to play with us?” They were right on the verge of making a big life-changing decision to specialize in John Denver music. Chris was the perfect fit for playing all of the beautiful piano lines and orchestra lines that John Denver recorded with Lee Holdridge.

Gene Wagner, the Drummer, lives in Palm Springs. Jim and Anne met Gene fifteen years ago, through Church connections. The most seasoned professional of all the band members, Gene had played drums in clubs and cruise ships behind big stars like Rita Moreno, Jerry Van Dyke and Phyllis Diller – just to name a few.

Gene had promised his wife many years previously, that he would give up music to live a non-nomadic life when they married and had their baby girl; however, Gene came out of retirement to play drums for the Curry’s. Gene has been a steady source of encouragement from the beginning, as well as the heartbeat of the band. He could see from the beginning that the audience really responded to Jim singing the music of John Denver, so he has encouraged Jim to continue ever since.

All of the band members have children, now grown, that make the commitment to working and traveling with the band a bit easier, but more of a challenge for the spouses, who are left at home alone. Anne comments that she and Jim are the lucky ones, traveling together.

The sacrifice a musician makes is the certainty that he is going to miss birthdays, holiday celebrations, weddings and funerals. The performance contracts made with the ticket sellers are to be honored no matter what. He must go out there – sometimes when he doesn’t want to go, sometimes when the weather’s not good, sometimes at the risk of losing his relationships at home.

But as in every family, there’s organizing and business transactions to ‘get the show on the road’. The amount of work required to prepare for the Jim Curry shows is daunting; they often think of themselves as a travel agency more than a band!

Logistics is one of the most important parts of the music business and it is also the key to keeping the bond that binds them. Before a trip, Anne has prepared for each band member to get a document with all of the flight information, hotel information, report times, show times, etc. Diane includes checking out restaurants that will be satisfactory to everyone.

One of the holiday songs that is on the Curry’s new CD, a song Jim wrote, is titled Memories of Home. The song is about not being able to come home for the holidays:
I can’t be home this year,
I’m so far away,
I dream of that moment when,
I come through that door….

Ironically, this will be the first Christmas away from home since Jim and Anne were married thirty-six years ago. The Christmas tour, which begins in Big Bear Lake, California, has been extended through New Year’s Eve in Rochester, New York, affirming that the Jim Curry Band will not be going home for Christmas. “I was sad at first, and reluctant to go.” Anne laments, “The new song coming from the next room went straight to my heart;there’s no place like Home for the Holidays.”

Written by ET Russell, journalist and news editor for Big Bear Lake NewsRoom, owner of Rim of the World Media Marketing.

December 19, 2015

“A Rocky Mountain Christmas”
Schwan Concert Hall – Milwaukee, Wisconsin

December 20, 2015
“A Rocky Mountain Christmas”
Ames Performing Arts Center – Burnsville, Minnesota

January 9, 2016
Music of John Denver
Higley Center For the Performing Arts – Gilbert, Arizona

January 13, 2016
Music of John Denver
David M. Player Center for the Arts – Safford, Arizona

February 19, 2016
Music of John Denver
Capitol Civic Centre – Manitowoc, Wisconsin

February 26 & 27, 2016
Music of John Denver
Kleinhans Music Hall – Buffalo, New York


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