Summerfest contract is music to this performer
by Greg J. Borowski
Pat McCurdy, with his acoustic guitar and offbeat sense of humor, is a fixture on the Milwaukee music scene and, of course, a regular performer at Summerfest. He estimates he has performed hundreds of times at the festival over the past 20 years. He has performed as a solo act for the past nine years, usually delivering his send-up songs and satirical banter from the festival's Piggly Wiggly Big Gig Stage. With Summerfest and the city poised, after years of backbiting and bickering, to announce a new 20-year lease agreement today, McCurdy offered some thoughts on the long-running negotiations. He spoke with City Hall reporter Greg J. Borowski.
Q. If you performed 23 times at Summerfest last year, and the new lease runs 20 years, sounds like the real winner in the lease talks is Pat McCurdy.
A. I would say so, even though they didn't consult me on any of the details of the lease. But that would be another 460 shows.
Q. As a regular Summerfest performer, let me ask this: Do you think it's financially advantageous for Summerfest, as a non-profit organization, to enter into an agreement through which the city, taking advantage of its ability to secure more favorable interest rates than Summerfest itself could on the open market, will borrow money for the first phase of the festival's capital improvements to the grounds, with Summerfest agreeing to repay the city the principal as well as interest and administrative costs associated with the borrowing over the duration of said lease?
A. Ummm. Yeah.
Q. You're known for composing offbeat songs about all sorts of topics. If you had to write a song about the Summerfest lease talks, what would it be like?
A. It would have to be some sort of epic drama, pitting (Summerfest Executive Director) Bo Black against (Mayor) John Norquist, maybe. We do have a big choice of elements. It would have to be like the "Edmund Fitzgerald" of Milwaukee.
Q. As a music fan, who would you like to see as one of the headliners at this year's festival?
A. Oh, gosh, there are so many. I like the less-known, more-obscure artists. You got me here. I'm excited about Bon Jovi, but they're already coming. I don't know if I could pick someone your readership would know. OK, I'd like to see Cotton Mather from Texas. It's a pop band. The singer sounds just like John Lennon. And I would like to see my own show there, of course.
Q. Speaking of your show, don't you wish they would put you on a stage that doesn't have a giant inflatable pig head on top of it?
A: That giant inflatable pig head has been comedy gold, especially last year when they hooked up a special speaker inside the head just for my shows, so I could do the voice of the pig speaking to the people of Summerfest. I wouldn't trade it for anything.