Elk Point native returns home for holiday concert
By Joanne Fox
Sioux City Journal – Sioux City, IA
Published November 23, 2007

Coming home for the Thanksgiving holiday is a tradition most folks embrace. What makes Joe Curry’s visit home to Elk Point, S.D. unusual is that he includes a performance. Curry will present a free concert at 7:30 p.m. tonight at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Elk Point, the place where he first debuted his compositions in 1998.

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,” came after his graduation from the University of Minnesota-Minneapolis in 2003.

In August of 2005, he moved to South Bend, Ind., to work on a two-year MBA program at the University of Notre Dame. During his studies he released a Christmas album, “Midnight Clear.” He spent a good part of the summer arranging and recording the music. “It was a fun project,” he admitted, “but at times, it was difficult to envision songs like ‘Frosty the Snowman’ during the intense July heat.”

Curry made the move to the Hoosier state after working two years at a public relations and marketing agency in the Minneapolis area. Not content to stay in one area for any extended length of time, Curry resided in downtown Chicago across from the Chicago Theater while he was a strategy intern at Wrigley gum.

“Last fall, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to study abroad in Beijing and Shanghai, China for two weeks, followed by a quarter of classes in Santiago, Chile,” he said. “In May, I graduated from the University of Notre Dame with an MBA. Currently, I live in Chicago and work at McDonald’s Corporation in corporate communications and volunteer for the employee taste panel.”

But the siren’s song continues to bring him back to Elk Point and Curry said there’s a reason for that. “St. Joseph’s is where I first began publicly sharing my music, aside from annual piano recitals,” he said. “Many of the people who have attended my concerts remember when I started playing at church at 13 years old. Much of my family lives around Siouxland, so at the holidays, we’re all gathered there anyway.”

But the Catholic church in Elk Point hasn’t been the only place Curry has performed. Over the years, he’s played at a number of Sioux City venues, including ArtSplash, Sioux City Art Center, Sioux City Public Museum, and Convention Center. “But probably my most memorable and fun performances were at the Sioux City Community Theater, where I was in ‘Grease’ and a Cole Porter musical review,” he said. “There’s nothing quite like the dynamic performance of live theater.”

Curry shared an unusual gig that came about from a school assignment. “This past spring, I had a class project researching how people buy shoes, and after interviewing a store owner, I gave them my student business card,” he said. “They found my Web site and two weeks later, I was performing in their shoe store for a Cole Haan VIP trunk show. “It was perfect,” he added. “I got to observe people shopping for shoes for my homework while I played piano and earned some textbook money to boot.”

For the Elk Point concert, Curry will be performing songs from his 2005 Christmas album, as well as some of his original music, like “Trail Ride” and “Snowflake.” “Most of the songs are what I’d perform if you invited me to play piano in your home,” Curry said. “During December when I was growing up, my mom would often have the record player spinning a Christmas LP at 6:30 a.m., waking us up to the sounds of Bing Crosby. I’d be at the piano practicing Christmas songs at 7 a.m. before school, after school and before going to bed.”

With all the attention Curry has given to his art, it remains a passion, but still a hobby. “It’s a great way to relax and unwind at the end of the day,” he said. “Maybe someday it will evolve into something more. My grandpa would always tell me that ‘nothing is automatic’ and also ‘if God gave you any talents, you need to use them.'”

Among his strongest supporters are members of his family who all come off the bench for Curry’s concerts. “From moving church furniture, decorating, publicizing, baking treats, videotaping, and the sales table, pretty much everyone is involved behind-the-scenes before I even play my first note,” he said.

Calling himself, “fairly tech savvy,” Curry said he works hard to stay on top of the digital age. “My music is now available on iTunes and other download sites,” he said. “I’m also exploring the possibility of adding a music blog or podcasts to my Web site (www.joecurry.com).