Pat plays it steady...and often!
by Jeremy Johanski
For anyone to be popular through all of high school or college years was a rare feat right? Imagine just trying to be popular for four years with the same group of people...then see a Pat McCurdy show and you'll see a man that has grown and maintained a fan base for nearly two decades!
Brookfield, Wis., native Pat McCurdy hit the road as a solo act at the start of the '90s and really hasn't stopped since. This multi-talented musician, singer, songwriter, comedian plays to crowds all over the state of Wisconsin and its neighbors, on just about every night of every week.
"I've been a fan since '91. I first saw McCurdy at the Celebrity Club in Milwaukee...my fraternity brothers took me to see him," recalled Bill Andrus of Appleton.
McCurdy's largest fan base, or at least the origins of it, are within the college crowd. For years, thousands of "PatHeads" have come out to college bars and clubs to get their first taste of McCurdy's addictive antics.
McCurdy's off-beat humor fills local bars, clubs, theaters and private parties with a unique performance. I could call what McCurdy does an act, but it really is nothing of the sort...this is Pat McCurdy. His performances are who he is and what he does, besides being an amazingly dutiful husband and father while playing an average of about 340 shows each year! Yes...that's almost every day.
So there must be some monster vacations involved to give McCurdy a break here and there, right?
"Well I had a vacation in October and I just stayed home. I don't really want to go anywhere and when I play every day, I get in a groove," said McCurdy, a performer who really likes his life just the way it is.
If by this point you are curious to see more of what this McCurdy fellow is all about, take a peek at his "unofficial" website, patmccurdy.com. I say unofficial because, that's what it is. Fan and friend Mark Lippert heads up the site as webmaster entirely out of his own time. McCurdy avoids the "marketing slick" as he calls it, of an "official" website, although the site is closing in on one million hits!
Once on McCurdy's website, take a look at his rigorous schedule of playing all but two or three days each month. Note McCurdy does not play every day because of a contractual obligation to a record label, nor is it a contract with an agency that makes him perform. McCurdy performs because that's what he wants to do.
"This is my niche. It's a niche that's a little bit removed from showbiz," said McCurdy, who has been avoiding the hang-ups and obligations of the mainstream music industry since leaving his last band in 1991 to go solo. This was probably the best choice McCurdy made in his musical career, and certainly his innumerable fans would agree.
As McCurdy's fans started to grow in number so did his schedule. Ramping up quickly to a high-demand performer in the '90s McCurdy gained popularity across several area states and even joined the Miller Beer Rock network tour of colleges and performed on campuses across the United States. It has been a while though since McCurdy has been on a tour schedule, he prefers to make his own.
McCurdy has regular shows at the Beat Kitchen in Chicago on Mondays, Tuesdays at the Regent Street Retreat in Madison and breaks up the rest of his week schedule with visits across the area to places he's frequented for years, just as his fans have. McCurdy performs all these shows, and still gets to spend his nights at home usually, too.
McCurdy and "Pipe Jim" Schaufelberger, (his trusty audio operator, stage crew and all-round first class sidekick) typically travel overnight for shows no more than one night each week. A lot of miles have been put on vans driven by the pair over the years, but it is all worth it to have McCurdy satisfy fans and family.
"People think, oh, you work a lot, you're never home," said McCurdy. But a performer with 2 young kids and a wife, how can that possibly work?
"It works easy because I'm home during the day, so I've spent more time with my kids during the first 5 years of their lives...I was their caregiver during the day. So I'm home during the day, I get to see them and I get out of the house at the difficult part when they go to bed," explained McCurdy with a warm chuckle and smile.
So if McCurdy's job is easy...what does he think would be a tough day job?
"All of them," said a confident McCurdy with a laugh. "I've been lucky. I was born at the right time to be able to do this."
McCurdy credits some of his background and success to a little bit of fortunate timing. Granted, McCurdy has put in tireless years of education learning a laundry list of musical instruments that he was exposed to at a young age, he believes that the 1970s culture that he was growing up in had far more wide-open arms to accept a musical interests than the modern era.
"When I started music, music was really important to people...not just a certain type of music and not just a certain type of people. Everybody wanted to see live music," McCurdy recalled.
Well, whether the broad musical interests of American culture are waning today, Pat McCurdy's schedule and musical library are not. McCurdy has written more than 600 of his own songs and played more than 1,000 different songs throughout his career. Some songs last one or two shows and some have made it into McCurdy's favorite playlists, which have been immortalized on more than a dozen CD's throughout his career.
McCurdy may do the performing and writing, but he credits his unique audiences with the ideas for countless songs. That's something we can all appreciate, audience-influenced new music, and that's just how McCurdy prefers it.
"New (mainstream) music to me is like cheese, it's pressed and pasteurized," said McCurdy. His most recent CD 15 Favorites are not McCurdy's 15 most favorite songs of all time...but they are 15 of them.
Certainly others in the music industry have also recognized some of their own favorite McCurdy songs. McCurdy is an eight-time WAMI (Wisconsin Area Music Industry) award winner and has been Billboard Magazine's songwriting Merit Award winner twice as well. Indeed we do have to "love a guy who rhymes 'onomatopoeia' with 'South Korea'," says The Chicago Tribune.
If this writer can give you any singular piece of advice though in your own personal journey into becoming a PatHead it would be to see him live before you listen to his music. Go, ask a couple friends to join you (odds are someone has seen McCurdy before) and find a show near you for your Pat-virgin experience, I did.
McCurdy will even treat some of his new virgins to their own special song, which he'll sing for you after he sizes you up. I personally got to enjoy a short rendition of "Macho Man" played for me. I'm not certain if it made me necessarily want to hit the gym more, or simply laugh along with the rest of the crowd...I chose the latter...and almost everyone does after spending a few minutes in a room with Pat McCurdy.
The man makes people, laugh, smile, dance, sing and do all sorts of things. Pat McCurdy has been working daily to make us laugh and enjoy ourselves for almost 20 years and this new PatHead is proud to say he's had "Sex & Beer" with Pat McCurdy!
Go see him live...it's the only way you'll understand it, and I'll save my dignity.