That’s One Mean Sea Otter!

Jim Curry at the Memorial Plaque in Monterey, CA.
This is the Site Where JD Crashed his Plane

A familiar looking couple came up to me after one of our recent shows to say hi.  It was Jerry and Sherry, and we hadn’t seen each other since 2014!   The last time we were together was at an event called “Blue Water Weekend” a memorial gathering of John Denver fans in Monterey Bay, California.  It was a busy and fun weekend, filled with music and activities.

One of the activities we chose to do that weekend was kayaking in Monterey Bay.  It was so much fun and very memorable – mostly because some of the resident sea otters kept trying to get in our kayaks with us!  Our guide was not very cool about this as there are laws restricting us from “harassing” the wildlife, (but…. I think the wildlife was harassing us!!)  Our guide kept yelling “paddle faster!” when she saw an otter trying to make it’s way towards us.  All in all, it turned out to be a little exhausting trying to out-paddle the otters.  They certainly had the advantage in the water!  At the time, I wondered what might happen if one succeeded in getting into our kayak. 

Now it turns out, after 10 years of practicing, there is at least one otter in that area that has become famous, not only in getting on surfboards, but stealing surfboards away from the humans!  I guess when the otter jumps on, the people bail out (that’s one way to avoid “harassing” the wildlife!)

I can’t blame the otter though, he has probably been rewarded for his efforts with stolen snacks or soda  – stuff humans carry around with them.  Maybe the best reward would be getting out of the water and resting in the sun on a stolen paddleboard or surfboard.  Second best reward would be watching the humans splash and flail around in the cold Pacific.  Don’t tell me otters don’t have a sense of humor!

I told Sherry that I would post our picture from the 2014 trip (see below) and I’m looking forward to a future opportunity to kayak in Monterey Bay again.  If I do get the chance to get back there, I would try not to lose my kayak to an angry otter. 

They do have pretty sharp-looking teeth, so my trip might end with a short swim in cold water!

Our Kayak Group! Back Row: Jerry, Sherry, Diane, Danny, Tom, John, Valerie. Front Row: Jim, Anne, Barbara, Mike and Bosco

We Get the BEST Letters……Sometimes

In the past I shared one of our WORST letters (June 2022) in which a concert attendee decided that our show was terrible.

Better yet, let’s forget all about that one.

Most often, we get WONDERFUL, ENCOURAGING letters from people that know how to make us smile!  Here is an excerpt from one of those letters:

…….The reason I’m writing is because at today’s show you mentioned sending in requests. I met you this afternoon Jim, to not only to congratulate you on an amazing show but also to share with you how when my brother Matthew was diagnosed with cancer at the age of two in 1977 with doctors giving him a 10% chance to live, my mom wrote to John to let him know how inspiring his song “I Want to Live” was to her and to our family. John actually wrote back. My brother made it through and is alive and well and a proud father of four. That story has always been a part of our family history.

Unfortunately, my mom never was able to see John play live either. However, after seeing you today, I just bought two tickets for Sunday’s show in Lebanon as a surprise early Mother’s day present……..
Mike K.

That is only a small part of a WONDERFUL, ENCOURAGING letter from Mike K!  I am so happy to hear that brother Matthew beat the odds and has not only survived but lived to raise a family!  I’m also happy to hear that John Denver wrote back to Mike’s mother too. 

Is John Denver a part of YOUR family history?  Let me know in the comments below if you do! (Remember that the Captcha is case sensitive and NO spaces between characters)

And here is a YouTube video of Jim singing John Denver’s “I Want to Live”

That Downhill Stuff

The recent news of the passing of Tina Turner (May 24, 2023) had me looking for the television special “John Denver and the Ladies” where John performed one of his songs with Tina Turner.  I had forgotten about the little ‘shtick’ they did when John introduced Tina….very iconic of the silly stuff that television producers wanted out of John.  It was funny and cute though, I’m glad it was included in this YouTube video, shared in the John Denver Channel.

After the ‘shtick’ John and Tina went on to perform “Downhill Stuff” a song John wrote.  The song is a little bit about skiing, and a little bit about letting go.

It’s funny (ironic, maybe) that neither John nor Tina had it easy….Tina had to fight very hard for her solo career and John had to fight very hard to shake the ‘gosh-golly’ image that was forced upon him.  In the end, they were both successful beyond their wildest dreams but if they wrote a song about getting there, it would be more like ‘Uphill Battle’ rather than ‘Downhill Stuff.’

It looks like they put John’s band on the set as well as Tina’s band…seeing that there were 2 drum sets and multiple players doubling on other instruments. It was fun to recognize the very famous saxophone/flute player Jim Horn – also James Burton on electric guitar, Hal Blane (RIP) on the drums, Denny Brooks (RIP) on acoustic guitar (right next to John).  Do you recognize anyone else?

Good Bye Coffee Gallery Backstage

Jim and Anne at the Coffee Gallery Backstage – Photo by Valerie Nestrick

We are all sad to witness another “end of an era” after hearing the announcement that the Coffee Gallery Backstage in Altadena, California will be permanently closed.   Backstage owner, Bob Stane, made this very difficult decision while recovering from a recent hospitalization.

The 49 seat Coffee Gallery Backstage was truly a unique and very special place for us as performers as well as the audience; more of a listening room than a Coffee shop and owner Bob Stane was more of a friend than a proprietor.

Here is the official creative description of CGB from their website:

The room “location” is a coffee bean warehouse somewhere in Central America. You are comfortably stranded while your cruise ship rides out a storm at the mouth of the river.  You, fortunately, are ashore and have stumbled upon this warehouse where a group of musical and witty, mostly American, expatriates are earning their cups of exotic coffee by entertaining with voice, guitar and humor. 
There seems to be a never-ending supply of them; it is almost always a different group every week night. The entertainers seem to be overjoyed with this bean storage facility as the audience is starved for “good” music and comedy and no machinery of any kind makes a sound while they are performing. Grinders are not allowed. Each individual bean is crushed, quietly, by hand by underpaid field workers.

Jim and I were regular performers at the Coffee Gallery Backstage, and we appreciated the “no grinder” rule more than anything.  We could sing the softest, sweetest John Denver Ballad and never heard a pin drop from the actual coffee shop outside the backstage room.

We called Bob Stane “The Voice of God” as he liked to make announcements through a microphone he kept close at hand from his seat in a darkened corner of the room.  Bob ran the lights and sound and occasionally the air conditioner (if we begged him to) and he would gleefully announce to the audience the availability of indoor plumbing and lead everyone in the “seductive dimming of the lights” ceremony at the beginning of each show.

We love you and will miss you Bob!  There is not or will ever be anything like the Coffee Gallery Backstage.  We continue to wish you a full recovery (nothing else will do….) and lots of joy in your garden for many seasons to come.

More about Bob Stane In the Pasadena News:

March Showers Bring April….WEEDS!

We are all familiar with the “April Showers Bring May Flowers” saying.  But what do you get with March showers in Southern California?  The answer to that is WEEDS….lots of them!   We have a big back yard and we mostly grow food in the garden so we don’t use herbicides of any kind. Our cool and rainy winter provided the perfect growing conditions for a bumper crop of weeds. 

It wasn’t until now that we’ve had time to focus on the mess in the yard – but I am anxious to begin planting my spring/summer vegetables so I need to make room!  Jim is pulling out the big ones and I am getting the little ones…yay teamwork!! 

So if you don’t hear from us for a while – you know why!  We need to get this done, then get ready for a road-tour by the end of April.  Check our website calendar for upcoming dates and locations.

Click Here for Future Concert Dates

Until then……see you OUTSIDE!!!

Just For Fun….

You may recall a photo I posted in December.  An incredibly talented wood carver, Jim Miller, came to one of our concerts and surprised us with a carving of Jim and his guitar.

We love this little guy! He sits on a shelf in our living room and makes us smile.

Jim Curry, Jim Miller and “Little Jim”

Flautist Diane Ireland loved the carving too and she took a picture of it.  Then she did something unusual – she animated the carving with a downloadable app to make it sing!  The photo of the carving was animated by the app and a soundtrack of Jim singing “Country Roads” was added.

This is just for fun and it’s a fascinating thing to see something brought to life this way.…are you amazed at this technology? Or is it just a little frightening?

The John Denver Connection with the Challenger Space Shuttle

Just a few days ago (Jan 28) we were performing our John Denver tribute concert with the Bartlesville Symphony Orchestra.  The orchestra played beautifully and from the first notes of “Rocky Mountain High” to the very last note of “Poems, Prayers and Promises” we were all transported by the lyrics and music of John Denver.

Near the end of the concert, I invited the audience to visit our website to read my monthly blog. I also mentioned that January 28 was the unhappy anniversary of the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster (which happened in 1986) and that there was a John Denver connection. 

Here it is:

John Denver loved being a pilot and he had a strong desire to experience space flight.  He helped develop a program where citizens could go on NASA space missions, and was in line to be one of those citizens, having passed all the physical and mental tests required to qualify him for space flight.  John hoped to be the FIRST in line, but that was not to be – school teacher Christa McAuliffe was selected instead. McAuliffe was chosen to fly on the Challenger space shuttle, which broke apart 73 seconds after liftoff, killing all 7 crew members. 

John was inspired to write a song in memory of the Challenger crew called, “Flying for Me.”  I included the link below if you would like to listen to the song, including John’s introduction.

Flying for Me

Trivia Alert!  There is also a rumor that the instrumental ending of the song is the exact same time as the total flight time of the Challenger mission.  I couldn’t find any official statement about that so I timed it….. 73 seconds.

Happy Birthday John Denver!

December 31 is John Denver’s Birthday! He was born in 1943 so today he would have been 79 years old! Here is a video of John at 51. This is one of the best videos made of John at an “older” age (the Wildlife Concert- 2 years before he died) When you watch it, imagine what he would have looked like and sounded like 28 years older!

I know he would still be perfect! To me, John’s voice improved with age, his breath control seemed effortless and his tone mellowed. John shines with confidence and is obviously very comfortable performing for a live audience – something learned from years of experience.

Happy Birthday John Denver!  May your legacy live on and on.

Watch John Denver, 51 years old sing “Take Me Home, Country Roads”

Jim Burton is playing the dobro, Alan Deremo is playing bass. Pat Hawk (Alan’s wife) is singing harmony, Pete Huttlinger on banjo, Chris Nole on piano and Machito Sanchez on drums.

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Why We Do What We Do

This October 12th marked a very special commemoration for fans of John Denver all over the world.  It’s been 25 years since the terrible accident that claimed John Denver’s life in 1997.  Throughout the month, there have been special gatherings, concerts, radio shows and podcasts, etc. John’s legacy continues after all this time.

Memorializing John and his music is one thing that Jim and I set out to do when we decided to perform John Denver tribute concerts and in doing so we’ve been greatly rewarded by the support we’ve gotten.  The music of John Denver continues to bring people together and it uplifts them in remarkable ways. 

At this special time, we recognize and celebrate John Denver for bringing us all together, and we thank each one of you who have made our journey part of yours.  Earlier this month, we received this letter, which is a great example of the connection we feel sharing the love of John Denver with others.

Dear Jim and Anne,
I don’t know if you remember my dad…. He was a huge John Denver fan, as well as a huge Jim Curry and company fan after your band started. Dad’s health declined, and he could no longer attend your concerts, yet he continued to follow your music and newsletter every month. I wanted you to know that my dad passed away, and we scattered his ashes back home as he had wished. He was a country boy at heart, and we played John Denver songs as we celebrated his life. Thank you for filling a void in my dad’s life with the beauty of your music. He loved your music, and turned me into a huge fan as well. He will be missed.

Do you have a memory of John Denver to share, or a comment about his legacy?  Feel free to post it here. 

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Destination Concerts!

We’ve all heard of destination weddings (a wedding that is held in an area that everyone travels to).  It’s usually an exotic or fun location or something that suits the personalities of the bride and groom. 

Well, what about destination concerts?  I’ve been thinking all month that most of our concerts are held in very beautiful locations or places worth seeing!  For those of you that can travel or can spare a little extra time out on the road, it might be a great idea to use our concerts as an excuse to get out and explore!  Some of our friends already do this – they show up and surprise us in random places. Sometimes all you need is that extra little push or reason to go someplace new…..and what better than knowing you will also be hearing your favorite music! (You might even be blasting it in the car all the way there and back….you know who you are!)

This was a GREAT Destination Concert at the Silverton in Las Vegas many years ago!

These past couple of month, we have played concerts in major tourist areas: Lake Tahoe, NV, Rapid City, SD, Des Moines, IA, Townsend, TN and Berlin, OH.  Even the smaller concert locations (Oakley, KS and Coggon, IA) have beautiful landscapes, wonderful people and provide a nice break from the same ol’ same-o!

Every place we visit is unique and has its own reason to be special. We have some very exciting places to visit next month too!  So check out the shows below and consider joining us at a destination concert!

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