THEATER REVIEW | “Country Roads” with Dennis Curley: At the Bryant-Lake Bowl, John Denver’s music is as sweet as ever


Dennis Curley brings the music of John Denver to the Bryant-Lake Bowl in Country Roads: Dennis Curley Sings the Music of John Denver. If you are not familiar with the theater at the Bryant-Lake Bowl, let me tell you that on May 4 I felt like I was sitting in Curley’s living room surrounded by friends and family. This is the magic of John Denver’s music: it connects people to a simpler time and to shared memories. Not to mention that the audience did consist of friends and family of Curley and the four musicians who shared the stage with him—along with people like me, who love the music of John Denver.

I saw a much different show at the State Theatre when members of John Denver’s band reunited for a tour that included video of Denver performing as a backdrop to their live performance. That show got me thinking about John Denver the man: how forward-thinking he was in the causes he championed but what a troubled personal life he had. However, I did not feel nearly as connected to Denver the musician as I did when I listened to Dennis Curley sing.

I appreciated the fact that Curley covered many of Denver’s best-known hits but also introduced me to several songs that I was not familiar with. It makes we want to go back and listen to all of Denver’s music again and discover other gems. In Country Roads, Curley is supported by talented local musicians Tony Wirth, Leo Lenander and David Weeks-Wynne. A special mention needs to go to Lisi Wright, who provided back-up vocals; a duet performance with Curley; and fiddle playing that really shone in the final song of the evening, “Thank God I’m a Country Boy.” Dennis Curley and his band will be at the Bryant-Lake Bowl through May 11.

For me, listening to Curley performing was like seeing John Denver: his lyrics that bared his soul and his music that at times created a voice of its own. There was almost no mention of Denver’s life or his struggles; this show is all about how music forms the backdrop for so much of our life history. I think that, at least for me, it is the happy memories that this music evokes—and it is those memories that make me smile, along with that sunshine on my shoulders.