What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

I took the opportunity to fly home during a break in our schedule.  I was flying solo – something I’ve only done twice in my lifetime, but I’ve flown numerous times with friends, bandmates and family, no big deal, I know the ropes.

When we booked my flight, Jim and I took the opportunity to upgrade to the aisle seat in the emergency exit row. Those seats cost more but Jim thought I would enjoy the extra leg room (lol, totally wasted on me and my short little legs!) I should note that the airline I was flying on charges extra for everything. I think they even installed pay toilets on the plane (not sure though, short flight). 

As we were all being seated, I heard at least one gentleman look at the two empty seats beside me and tell the flight attendant that he would be happy to sit in the emergency exit row if needed – the attendant quickly told him that the plane was full and directed him to his seat. 

As I waited for the rest of the passengers to board, I read the pamphlet to re-familiarize myself with how to remove the door to the plane. The door weighed 30 pounds – no problem – my guitar and case weighs 25 pounds, so 30 pounds should be easy peasy for me…but the scenario I have always had in my mind the few times I’ve sat in an emergency exit row was that my job was not to remove the door, my job at the aisle seat was hold back the stampede of terrified passengers while the person sitting next to the door removed the door. You see, the door has to come inside the plane sideways before you throw it out…impossible to do if people are pressed up against it, right?

I waited to see who would be sitting in the seats next to me, who would share in the life and death duty that we promise (audibly) to fulfill and who would share my responsibility of saving the lives of the people on the plane.   But the plane was not full. The doors closed and I still had 2 empty seats next to me (and LOTS of legroom) so as the flight attendant went through the pre-flight rules, and told everyone to locate their nearest emergency exit, several people turned around and looked to ME as their savior.  I was picturing a whole new scenario now as I imagined myself opening the emergency exit (a two –handed operation by the way) and holding back passengers with my leg extended behind me.  Can I lift a 30 pound door standing on one short leg and holding back passengers with my other short leg? (Take a moment to visualize this, it’s worth it).  Every scenario I imagined ended up with me smooshed up against the unopened emergency exit door with a pile of passengers pressed up against me.

Seems that if the airlines are going to take this emergency exit thing seriously they would put a minimum of 2 people in each exit row, and give those folks a discount (or maybe a drink coupon – or a toilet pass) to thank them for taking on this vitally important responsibility.

I am happy to report that everyone lived under my watch. The question I have for you: “Is it a good idea for airlines to charge extra for an emergency exit row?”   Let me know what you think by writing in the comment box below. 

The captcha is case sensitive, but do not put any spaces in between the characters.

The Hidden Treasure

I often get asked where I would live if I could pick anyplace that I’ve been….

I’ve tried to imagine living somewhere else, but picking a favorite place is like picking a favorite song…. It’s impossible.

It’s much easier to name some of the favorite things I’ve seen on the road, like Niagara Falls, Mt. Rushmore, Grand Canyon, Hubbard Glacier and Quebec City.  That list goes on and on and on.

Of course the ‘big’ things are spectacular! But I am also thrilled by things that may seem ho-hum to others.  For instance, I remember the first time (14 years ago) driving through Alberta, Canada, and how mesmerized I was by the seemingly endless fields of canola. The vibrant yellow of the canola against the blue sky as far as the eye could see was AH-Mazing! 

Fast forward to today, my friend Harvey (who lives in Vulcan, Alberta, Canada) posted a picture on Facebook.  He is standing (yes, standing) in a field of canola!  I would love to see those canola fields again, but more so I would love to see my friend Harvey and his beautiful wife Shirley.

Suffice it to say, that to me, the treasures we find on this earth are wonderful to behold – but the people we meet along the way are the hidden treasure, just like Harvey hiding in that canola field.  If you know me, you are probably not surprised to hear me say this!

I’d like to know of some spectacular thing YOU’VE seen…send me a comment below.  You might give me something to look forward to seeing on my future travels!

What We’ve Learned from Ricky Nelson (Click for More…..)

Jim and Anne – We Look Pleased with Ourselves

Here is a letter we recently received from a disappointed concert attendee:

“The popular songs that your group performed were done very well however half of the songs were unknown to most and while I’m sure they were performed well, that is not what I paid to see/hear. I can appreciate that you know so much trivia about John Denver but the show was not advertised as a documentary. We see two or three shows there each summer and drive over an hour to get there. I, as well as the others in my group left the (venue) disappointed for the first time ever.”

I probably don’t have to tell you, THAT kind of letter really grabs our attention!  As entertainers, we are essentially people-pleasers, and when we became entertainers we opened ourselves up to praise AND criticism.  Praise is easy (we ALL want that!) –  but with the praise, sometimes there is criticism  – and in these days of social platforms, both are given freely whether asked for or not.

The first thing we do is check back at the set list, There were 4 unknown songs in the entire 2 hour playlist of hit songs.….one because it was specifically written about the very place we were standing.  We explained that during the show. We thought it was cool, but apparently the complainer thought of this as part of our “documentary.”

The next thing we do is reply to the complainer.  This is hard.  We want to defend ourselves, we want to prove them wrong, make them feel bad for criticizing and we want them to understand the agony we go through trying to decide what everyone wants to hear out of a very large repertoire of excellent music. We want to send them copies of all the letters we received from people that LOVED the show – but in the end, all we could say to this person was “We are sorry you were disappointed” and in spite of all the praise we received from OTHER people who went to the exact same concert, this person’s comments will be a nagging reminder that, hard as we try, we can’t please everyone.  

In 1971, singer/songwriter Ricky Nelson performed at Madison Square Garden in what should have been the highlight of his career.  Instead, he was nearly booo’d off the stage by an audience that preferred to hear Ricky’s hit songs instead of the new songs he and his band wanted to present. Ricky was unnerved and cut his set short.  From this bad experience, Ricky wrote the song “Garden Party” which became his first US top 10 hit since 1963. 

Remember…. in this day and age, criticism is easy and it is encouraged by greedy retailers who’ve convinced us that the customer is always right.  It is also encouraged by social platforms that allow everyone to share their opinions freely (PS they also make a lot of money doing this).   Moving forward, we will always read, listen and reply to every comment we receive, and we will do our best to reply in a professional manner.  In the end though, for our own sanity, we remember these helpful quotes:

  • “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”  –  John Lydgate
  •  “The only taste of success some people will get is when they have a bite of you.”  –  Zig Ziglar
  •  “Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner.” — Lao Tzu
  •  “You can’t please everyone, so you gotta please yourself.” – Ricky Nelson

Winning the Battle With Bermuda…(Click Here For More)

**Warning:  Anne is going to talk about gardening again, you have our permission to skip this Blog, LOL.

Spring is the obvious time for most of us to be outside doing yardwork. If you can’t tell by looking outside, you can tell by all the television advertisements for yard maintenance stuff.  The weeds already have a head start, and it seems by the time you notice one, there are millions of them everywhere!  For now, I’m ignoring the milkweed and letting them grow.  Milkweed is supposed to be good for butterflies and bees, but what I’m actually seeing on the milkweed is lots of ladybugs, and I want them to stick around to help me in the garden.  I’ve started tomatoes and cucumbers, the lettuce and strawberries are going strong and I have lots of seeds and seedlings waiting for me to put them in the ground!

Most importantly, this is my 4th and (hopefully) final year in my plan to eliminate the Bermuda grass from my back yard.  Oh you may laugh, ho ho, and say, “Anne, it’s impossible to eliminate Bermuda grass!” and you would be right.  I will never totally eliminate the Bermuda, but now I think I can see the light at the end of the tunnel!

We have lived in this house for about 38 years.  The Bermuda grass was there before we moved in.  Someone probably planted it on purpose, Bermuda is a popular choice for a tough, heat loving, drought tolerant lawn.  Over the years, any effort on my part to plant a garden or flowerbed has been thwarted by Bermuda grass running into it and choking out everything else.  Bermuda is a survivor….it has 3 ways of spreading, and it spreads fast!   

1) Seeds that blow in from other areas or carried by birds or other animals  

2) Spreads across the ground surface 

3) Spread by tough, thick stems that go deep underground. 

I’ve tried many organic (and non-organic) methods of eradicating Bermuda.  After so many years of trying, I got tired of waiting for my dream-garden-food-forest so I decided to start digging! I had to eliminate all of the stems that were underground because any piece of a stem left in the dirt can grow roots and start a new patch of Bermuda.  The new seeds that sprout from the top are easily pulled out annually with the rest of the spring weeds, but what happens underground becomes a big problem!

Every year for the past 4 years, I’ve spent my “home time” (the very brief amount of time we actually are at home between concert tours) planting, harvesting and pushing back the Bermuda.   I sit under my trusty umbrella (5 square feet of life-saving shade!) I push the Bermuda back, and I plant garden rows in its place, with a generous mulched area in-between so I can watch for new patches of Bermuda that might appear from below.   

Looking at the picture on the left, Jim (blue shirt- working on irrigation) is standing by the tan-colored barn.  The little red house on the left is a utility/laundry room.  Bermuda eradication started at the barn, and now the only Bermuda that remains is the small patch in the foreground with the milkweed.  The picture on the right shows how deep I have to dig to get the stems out from underground.  So far I’m lucky, I haven’t found many stems going deeper than 1 foot (but google says it can go underground up to 3 feet!  Yikes!). 

I am happy to see the end of this chore.  I would like to focus all of my time and attention on growing food and truthfully, at my age and into the future I won’t have the strength to be pushing around so much dirt!  It’s good though, to set a goal and see it through.  Even though it took a very long time to figure out HOW to do it, there is a lot of satisfaction in getting it done.  

Are you working on a project that you’ve been dreaming about?  Let me know about it in the comments!

Controlling the Nerds (Click Here for More)

One Eye on Jim, The Other on Conductor Lee Holdridge

This past month, we were honored to perform our John Denver tribute show with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.  This is the 2nd time we’ve been asked to perform with the BPO –  and it was just as amazing as the first time (several years ago).  Performing with a Symphony Orchestra has GOT to be the highlight of most musicians’ careers.  It certainly has been for me.  Anyone who has mastered their instrument to the level that they are in a Symphony Orchestra is someone that has worked hard, practiced long hours and sacrificed much to become a true professional at the top of their field.  To be perfectly clear, we are performing WITH the Symphony, not IN the symphony…symphony musicians are on another level far and above what we do and we are lucky to have the opportunity to do a show with them.

It’s thrilling and intimidating!  When I stand on the stage with the orchestra, I am a jumbled bag of emotions, it feels as if parts of my personality are trying to break out and take over, while I struggle to hold it together and ‘BE’ a professional.  There’s no time for me to geek out and no room for fear or high emotions.

Here’s what’s happening with my personalities:

  • The Music Nerd: I’m actually on stage with an orchestra!  I love to hear the music swell all around me and feel it in my feet.  In fact, I’d love to lay down on the stage and feel it through my whole body….is that weird?
  • The John Denver Nerd:  Hearing the orchestra play the exact notes that Lee Holdridge wrote for John Denver, brings such a strong sense of nostalgia as a John Denver fan.  Knowing John himself loved singing with an orchestra makes me feel so happy and sad and wistful and joyful… I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.
  • The Hospitality Nerd: I know there must be other John Denver Nerds out in the audience enjoying John Denver’s Music with a Symphony Orchestra.  It gives my ‘hostess’ side great satisfaction.  I enjoying watching the audience enjoying the music!
  • The Spiritual Nerd: This is magical, it’s surreal.  I can’t believe I’m here!
  • The Mandolin Nerd: Oh God, this is the most pressure I’ve ever had to keep my mandolin in tune!

Through it all, I must keep calm and be a professional.  The job cannot be done properly if I let the ‘nerds’ take control.  Don’t be scared, don’t be intimidated…deliver the BEST music with the BEST musicians to the BEST audience and everything will be okay.  Oh, and don’t lay down on the stage….not cool.

I’m sorry that we are not allowed to take pictures of the symphony (a big union no no) or video (even bigger no no).  We did get a surprise after the show when a group of young men approached us at the meet-and-greet and asked for pictures and autographs.  We don’t see many youngsters at our concerts so we were very happy they stayed around to introduce themselves.  They are a group of friends and pilots (some are pilots and some studying to become pilots).  Some from Buffalo and some out of State.  They took the opportunity to get together at our concert and hear music they love written by a pilot they admire…..

Jim Curry With a Group of Young Pilots and John Denver Fans!

The More We Get Together (Click Here for More)

My friend Ann posted last month on the blog page that I’ll be in my usual cheerful mode when I get back on the road again, and of course she is 100% correct! All this month we have been doing concerts and making new friends.  It’s like the song:

The more we get together, together, together,

The more we get together the happier we’ll be.

‘Cause my friends are your friends and your friends are my friends,

So the more we get together the happier we’ll be!

All I have to do is scroll through my facebook pictures for a few seconds to be reminded of how many smiling faces we have met, and how many fun adventures we have had. So many!

Sorry if I missed anybody, this was just a few seconds of scrolling and a small sample of the fun that we’ve had over the years!

Sharing music and making friends is an important part of living the human experience and something we all need to try to do to be healthy and happy.

You all know that….thank you for reminding me!!

Is THIS the END? (Click Here for More)

The month of January was pretty laid-back for us….. 

Because of the Omicron surge, the only concert we had scheduled for January was cancelled.  Jim and I mostly cooled our heels at home.  We did some yard work and we worked on our taxes.  

One thing we DID do, was visit some iconic So Cal tourist spots.  We had some friends from Texas come and visit us for a couple of days so we did a lot of tourist-y things with them.  One of the places we went to was the Santa Monica pier, a nice place to see the Pacific Ocean and the sunset.  Santa Monica is at the end of route 66 – there is a marker there so we dutifully took our photos and continued on.

Santa Monica – End of Route 66

Today I’m looking at the picture and I notice something is missing.  I looked at the picture of each side of the sign…..is this only the end?  Shouldn’t it also be the beginning?  The entire route goes all the way from Chicago to California – and it ALSO goes all the way back to Chicago.  I think one side of the sign should say “end of the trail” and the other side should say “beginning of the trail…”

It’s very possible that struggle to get back to normal is starting to get to me.  It feels like I’m looking at all the signs that say our professional road is at the end, yet I am waiting and hoping that there will be a new beginning here somewhere.  A smarter person might have already started something new instead of waiting….jobs are plentiful so I hear, but I’m not ready to say, “Do you want fries with that?”  I don’t mean to be depressing, I just want to be smart.  If this is the end of the road, I want to find the beginning of the new road instead of languishing at the end of the old one.  Languishing does not pay the bills!

Hopefully, the new road leads to more singing, more concerts and less Covid!  We begin mid-February in Texas, then on to Florida.  Once we get started again I know my spirits will rise, after all, this is just the beginning!

How Jim Almost Met John Denver – A Throwback Blog (Click Here for More)

People STILL ask if Jim had ever met John Denver…..it is one of our most frequently asked questions – so please forgive me for repeating an old story that has been repeated before.  I originally wrote this story in 2012, but I updated it and posted it here so I can tell people to read it in the blog when they ask.

Jim and Anne Curry, 1978 – This is the oldest photo I have of us on my computer.  I know there’s another photo from when we dated in 1974, but it’s buried somewhere I can’t find it….I’ll keep looking.

As long as I’ve known Jim (almost 50 years now) I’ve known that the one person in the world he most wanted to meet was John Denver. It’s a common question we get at every one of our concerts, and we’ve met so many people and heard so many stories of how they met John and how nice he was to them. Jim has never met John, but not for the lack of trying.

The summer after Jim graduated from high school, he bought tickets to see a John Denver concert near his home in Houston, TX. Somehow he obtained a precious backstage pass….this was his chance to meet John! Jim went to the concert with a girlfriend and two other friends from high school. Being a gentleman, Jim handed the pass to his girlfriend and said, “We’ll take turns, you go first.”

But she didn’t return to share the backstage pass.

Jim and his two other friends found themselves waiting for her in the parking lot after the concert. They were an hour away from home, and they didn’t know if they should leave her there, and how they were going to explain to this girl’s parents how they lost her in Houston. After about a half hour, she finally returned to where they were waiting in the parking lot. She was overjoyed and full of stories about how she met John Denver and the entire band, and how nice everyone was, and what a wonderful time she had…..

Not too long after that Jim moved to California to resume a relationship with me (we had dated earlier, before Jim’s family moved to Texas). The rest is history, MY history. I kind of think it’s possible that if this girl had not been selfish, Jim might have been able to realize his dream to meet John Denver. But then again, he might have stayed with that girl in Texas instead of moving back to California.

Thank you John Denver, for changing my life.