Elk Point native releases second CD of piano music
By Julie Weeder
Sioux City Journal – Sioux City, IA
Published November 24, 2003

One might think it gets easier as you go.

Not so for Joe Curry, who composed, wrote and recorded his first compilation of instrumental piano music in a year. The second CD, just released, took four times as long.

Of course, the 22-year-old Elk Point, S.D., native had college to contend with while doing the second CD. “I tried to fit it in between college classes and exams,” Curry said via phone from Minneapolis, where he now resides and works at a public relations and marketing firm. “But having four years to develop the songs gave me more time to find out what I wanted to put on there.”

Curry, who has played piano since age 6, released his first CD of self-composed tunes, “Milestones,” in 1999 as he graduated from Elk Point-Jefferson High School. His follow-up CD, “In Focus,” comes after his graduation from the University of Minnesota-Minneapolis in May.

Expect more from the second one, Curry said. This is “piano music that paints a picture.”

“One of the things I tried to do when conceptualizing each song was picture each image as something in nature or life and try to declare that with music,” Curry said. “‘Trail Ride’ is one song. I did a lot of horse-back riding when I was younger in the sand dunes of South Dakota, so I tried to paint that picture in my music so that others could listen to the song and visualize what that meant. It’s more meaningful, too, if you can relate that song to something.”

The songs on the first CD didn’t have as strong of a connection for him. “These are a little more complex musically,” he said. “That’s something you learn along the way as you practice music and become a more developed composer.”

Curry, also a singer, penned some vocals for one of the pieces. The song “Three Shadows” contains layers of Curry’s voice, each recorded separately to make a harmonic chorus.

The beginnings of that song were woven in a music shop in Paris, Curry said, while he spent five weeks studying abroad in Europe.

Curry also found himself more self-critical the second time around. “I could sit down at the piano and create something on the spot, but it might not have the same quality I was looking to produce on a CD,” he said.

Of the 1,000 “Milestones” CDs Curry paid to have recorded and produced, he sold 800, enough to break even and pay for production of “In Focus.” And if he does well on this CD, he wants to do a Christmas album with friends and add more instruments.

Curry will perform his music at a CD release concert Friday at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Elk Point, the place where he first debuted his compositions several years ago.

To add effect, Curry plans to compose a song on the spot based on three notes selected by an audience member. He’s done it before. His mom hit three notes on the piano and it turned into “Harvest Moon,” the third track on his new CD.

A visual slide show will accompany the music concert. The free concert is at 7 p.m. at the church, 605 E. Main St. Autographed CDs and sheet music will be available for purchase. Curry’s CDs are also available for sale at his Web site, www.joecurry.com, and at the Sioux City Art Center, Pioneer Drug in Elk Point, and Victorian West and Nook ‘N Cranny in Vermillion.