Arts and Entertainment

Fill up your senses at John Denver tribute | Kitsap Week

Jim Curry - Contributed
Jim Curry
— image credit: Contributed

The resemblance between the late John Denver and Jim Curry is uncanny — the voice, the blond hair, the wire-rimmed glasses.

Their wives even share similar names. Annie for John, Anne for Jim.

“Anne’s name is another fun coincidence,” Curry said. “But it wasn’t a requirement.”

Curry’s music career started out slowly. He plucked around on his guitar during junior high. In high school, he wrote the opening song for his senior class play.

But it wasn’t until he started to sing publicly that people began to compare him to Denver.“Back then I didn’t have my hair like John Denver,” Curry said. “The resemblance was my voice.”

Growing up in the 1970s, Denver’s music was a popular choice for Curry and his friends. He once had a backstage pass to meet Denver, but because of an inconsiderate girlfriend, Curry didn’t get to meet the famous singer/songwriter.

“We only had one backstage pass and I told my girlfriend we could share it,” he recalled. “She went backstage at the beginning of the concert and never came back.”

Curry was disappointed that he never met Denver — Denver died in a plane crash in 1997 — but little did he know one day he would make a living traveling the world performing Denver’s hits.

After Denver’s death, Curry heard rumors that CBS was making a made for-TV movie about the singer’s life.

On a whim, he called CBS and was put in touch with the person coordinating the music for “Take Me Home, the John Denver Story.”

“I asked if he was looking for a [John Denver] sound alike, and he said ‘Yes,’ ”  Curry said. Curry, who lives in Upland, Calif., couriered one of his CDs to the studios in Burbank.  Later that evening, CBS let him know it was interested in having him record for the movie.

“It was amazing that all that happened in one day,” Curry said.

Later that year, Curry found himself in a studio performing Denver’s hits for the movie. And that was the beginning of what would turn out to be Curry’s musical career.

Before becoming a full-time performer, Curry owned a sign company and worked for a trade show exhibit company. But after Sept. 11, 2001, the trade show industry suffered.

Curry and his wife decided it was the right time to focus on music and they launched “Jim Curry and the John Denver Tribute Show.” Anne Curry performs alongside her husband on guitar and mandolin, and sings harmony.

Curry doesn’t think of himself as an impersonator. “I’m not like Rich Little who can do many different voices,” he said. “I can’t change my voice to sound like somebody. I just happen to sound like somebody.”

For 10 years, Curry has toured the world sharing Denver’s music with diehard fans, as well as exposing younger generations to Denver’s crisp-as-a-mountain-stream sound.

“We try to present the music in a professional and accurate way as possible,” he said.

His shows include Denver’s top hits such as “Thank God I’m a Country Boy,” “Rocky Mountain High” and “Grandma’s Feather Bed,” as well as some songs that may be known only to faithful Denver fans.

“We have really strong fans who followed John’'s career and they’ll ask for something so eclectic that no one else in the audience knows it,” Curry said. “I think it’s a challenge to me to see if I know it.”

Denver wrote more than 200 songs and Curry tries to introduce the audience to the obscure ones — including the last song Denver wrote before he died, “Yellowstone Coming Home.”

Although the majority of Denver’s hits were written in the 1970s, Curry believes the music is timeless and the message is universal. Many of Denver’s songs were about the environment and how to be a good steward of the land; Denver wrote songs of love as well.

Curry’s favorite song is “This Old Guitar” because the lyrics practically tell the story of his own life. His guitar played a pivotal part in many aspects of his relationships.

Denver’s family members have seen Curry perform and have enjoyed witnessing the legacy of Denver’s music. Up until her death two years ago, Denver’s mother was an audience regular when Curry performed near her winter home in Nevada.

“She was still very emotional about John’s passing and couldn’t bring herself to play his music at home, but always enjoyed the show,” Curry said.

For members of the audience at the upcoming performance in Bremerton, people should expect all the hits and a few surprises. Curry said people who weren’t huge Denver fans are often surprised at how many songs they know and how much they enjoy the show.

“The music makes you feel so good,” he said.

It might be said the music fills up your senses — like a night in a forest.

‘TAKE ME HOME, THE MUSIC OF JOHN DENVER’
What: “Take Me Home, the Music of John Denver.”
When: March 18, 3 p.m.
Where: Bremerton Performing Arts Center, 1500 13th St., Bremerton.
Tickets: $30 for adults, $15 for children 18 and younger.
Info: (360) 692-9463, www.kitsapconcerts.org, www.jimcurrymusic.com.

 

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