2018-10-11 / Around Town

Curley’s Dreams Coming True

By Mark Gorman

Drummer musician Fran Curley. Drummer musician Fran Curley. We musicians owe a huge debt of gratitude to our parents, most of whom bought us our first instruments and encouraged our musical interests. But this week’s featured musician, drummer Fran Curley, had to wait a while before his parents got him his first drum kit.

“It took me three years to get a drum set, being one of 11 children and having a father who was a janitor at a Catholic school,” he said. “As you can imagine, no one wanted the added noise of a drum set in a house with 13 people and one bathroom.”

Curley, who grew up in Waterbury, Connecticut and now resides in Newport’s Fifth Ward, started his music career at the tender age of 12. “I began as a singer in rock bands in grade school and during breaks I would sit in on the drums. I was self-taught,” he said.

Curley played in the popular Waterbury band Sextant, and later with the group Added Touch. “But by 1985 my lifestyle caught up with me. I was in a near-fatal car accident, which was a life-changing experience. I’ve been in recovery since that day, for the last 32 years,” he said.

Mark Gorman is a retired high school guidance counselor and guitarist-vocalist who performs locally each week. Mark Gorman is a retired high school guidance counselor and guitarist-vocalist who performs locally each week. He moved his family to Lenox, Massachusetts, in the Berkshires, and taught music privately, while pursuing a career in pharmaceutical sales. “Newport and Lenox are similar in many ways. They are both tourist destinations and they both have links to the Gilded Age,” he said.

Curley’s musical tastes have changed over the years. “I started out with rock music and then went on to playing funk, and then to general business (weddings and other functions) and society gigs, and now I play mostly jazz,” he said. “My taste is now for straight ahead jazz standards, bebop and some funk and jazz fusion.”

It’s often been said that our local music scene is comprised of generous musicians who look out for each other. Curley concurs, and went out of his way to thank local bassist Alan Bernstein for his kindness.

“Alan has helped me immensely breaking into the Newport jazz scene. Now, Alan and I help each other out, filling in with local gigs and private events,” he said.

This gifted drummer’s life seems to have come full circle, as he now gets to pursue his two passions: helping others and music.

“After 20 years in pharmaceutical sales, I left the business,” he said. “Now, I am able to do two things that I love: I’m a substance abuse counselor at SSTAR in Fall River, where I’m doing my part to help with the opioid crisis. And I get to be a jazz musician and I have the luxury to play the music that I love.”

For more information, follow Curley on Facebook.

To Go

WHEN: Sunday, Oct. 21, Noon - 3 p.m.

WHERE: The Fifth Element, 111 Broadway


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