Chicago, United States
NEWS: James Curley's song 'A Townes Van Zandt Song' received Honorable Mention in the Mid-Altlantic 2014 Song Contest.
NEWS: James Curley's CD 'There Used To Be A Train' chosen 'CD of the Week' by Rich Warren of WFMT - Chicago's 'The Midnight Special' radio show.
James Curley's aesthetic life is densely populated with songwriters; he sees and hears the world through them, and they have informed his emotional and artistic life since he first heard 'Moon River' at the age of 5 and asked 'who wrote that?' (Henry Mancini) instead of 'who sang that?" (Andy Williams) .
And thus began the journey that is now like a subway car at rush hour teeming with the likes of Harold Arlen, Jimmy Webb, John Hartford, Steve Goodman, John Prine, Warren Zevon, Townes Van Zandt, Jackson Browne, Kris Kristofferson, Todd Snider, John Gorka, Ellis Paul, Dan Navarro and Eric Lowen, Tom Waits, Ricki Lee Jones, Joni Mitchell, Shawn Colvin, Bruce Roper, Nancy Walker, Sue Demel, Deb Lader, Bruce Cockburn and so many others that cram the mind of 'The Best Damn Songwriter You Never Heard' - James Curley
So it's fitting that this, James' 3rd CD - There Used To Be A Train - is thick with songwriter homage, both obvious and subtle. From John Lennon, Steve Goodman and Townes Van Zandt being directly referenced, and Warren Zevon's 'Mutineer' being covered, to the more oblique relationships like the one between James' 'The Virtual Waltz' and John Prine's 'Donald and Lydia' and the one between Steve Goodman's 'City of New Orleans' and James' 'There Used To Be a Train' - there are ghosts of James' songwriter influences at every turn.
Produced and arranged by John Abbey (who also played bass), the instrumental and vocal support from James' supporting musicians features a 'who's who' of luminaries from the Folk-Americana tradition: Dan Navarro (Lowen and Navarro), Steve Dawson (Dolly Varden), Sons of The Never Wrong, 2-Bit Palomino, Don Stiernberg, Ben Lansing, Gerald Dowd, Scott Stephenson, and the brilliant Jenny Bienemann whose singular vocals grace three tracks including a duet on 'The Virtual Waltz'.
Feast your ears on a collection of songs that will stay with you long after you've heard them - There Used To Be a Train is a record that flows from track to track, taking you on a river journey of insight, bittersweet regret, world weary advice and an entire range of emotional and intellectual experiences that tie the 21st century in America back to the great Folk-Americana song traditions of the past.
"The Best Damn Songwriter You Never Heard"
James Curley began writing songs in the mid 70s in his native Philadelphia, influenced mainly by his trips to the Philadelphia Folk Festival and to local clubs like The Main Point, Grendel's Lair and others. He appeared as a solo songwriter back then, opening locally for other artists of the day, including Artie Traum and Lou London.
Leaving Philadelphia, James played in Denver, Boulder, Eugene and other areas and eventually wound up in Houston, where he was heavily influenced by the Texas songwriter scene there at the time. Moving to Austin in 1979, he immersed himself deeper in the local songwriting scene and performed in venues there until moving to Chicago several years later.
Taking a hiatus from music from 1987 until 1997 to raise a family and start a small business, James took up songwriting with earnest again, and released his first CD - Tom's Cafe - in 2002, Several tracks continue to get modest airplay on indie, folk and college radio stations, as well as having been synced to film and cable television shows. The CD was produced by guitarist Larry Clyman (Big Shoulders, The Otters, Lonnie Brooks Band) and featured performances from some of James musical friends like Nancy Walker and Sue Demel (Sons of the Never Wrong), Jay Sebastian (Twang Bang) and others.
In 2007, James released his 2nd CD - Manufactured Meaning - again working with Larry Clyman. Larry had moved to upstate New York, and James collaborated there with local musicians like Tony Markellis (David Bromberg Band) and Rick Rourke (Lost Wages) to produce the record. Several songs from the record, especially Lay Down Big Easy - a lament for the post-Katrina reality of New Orleans - continue to receive radio airplay.
This 3rd record draws from all of James' history, touching on Chicago (Goodman's Shoes), Texas (The Blue Austin Waltz, A Townes Van Zandt Song) and other recent compositions that feature an all-star lineup of musicians.