Backstage (May 1991)

Night Sites and Sounds May 1991

Backstage
Pat McCurdy

by Mike Chevalier

He's funny, he's wacky, and he's snotty. He'll make you happy and he'll make you think.

Michael Jae's Cantina often plays host to Wisconsin's own Pat McCurdy and is an ideal site for his crowd pleasing antics. Barring the name change, Jae's is no longer different from the former Baxter's (except they no longer have a cover charge, they don't raise drink prices when the entertainment begins, and the staff doesn't seem to be so uptight).

Tonight (April 4) a full house is on hand and ready to snap. McCurdy crouches quietly near the stage, intently contemplating something. Then he disappears. His cohorts, Waz (sound man) and Pipe Jim (lights) lead off the show by launching into Pat's intro hymn. Tonight it's William Shatner singing "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds."

Pat takes center stage, all smiles. A surge of magnetism races through the crowd. Hair stands at attention. He's got us! Pat breaks into the show with his classic, "New Ferrari," then casually weaves his way through a varied repertoire of songs including his eclectic piece, "Festival of Guitar," which showcases his guitar skills.

Pat encourages the audience to participate, and challenges them to stump him. It is possible to catch him off guard, but it is a rare occasion. (He claims to know every song ever written. If he doesn't, he'll fake it.) The indoctrinated audience timely picks up on the participatory cues, but the uninitiated audience wonders what the heck is going on. By the end of the show, however, everyone is a seasoned veteran. Many newcomers walk away with a "Pat McCurdy Designer Series, Ltd." shirt (buy one; it might be worth something someday!).

Pat has been involved in the music scene for quite some time. He is former lead singer of the bands: Yipes!, The Men About Town, and The Confidentials. Currently, he moonlights a little with George Wood and Mike Sieger in a group called Le Dulce Trio (The Sweet Trio). However, it is his solo career that has become most successful. He performs about 28 days out of the month and has opened for such notables as R.E.M., B-52's, Kinks, Motels, and Cheap Trick. You can catch his act regularly at the Lounge Ax (Chicago), Funny Business (Madison), Michael Jae's (Green Bay), and his home base, Sherman's Celebrity Club (Milwaukee).

I had the opportunity to chat with Pat about his musical career. Many of his tunes are about work and relationships, but he also writes political satire. I asked him if his audience ever took these songs the wrong way. Pat emphatically replied, "Yeah! I do a song called 'God Loves The U.S.A.' I say in the song: 'God hates Iraqis, Russians, Jews, Libyans, and anyone else who isn't a white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant.' There are people who actually agree with that statement, or say, 'Oh yeah, that's what he thinks.' People take that the wrong way."

For a time, Pat was playing playing a special Thursday night performance at the Celebrity Club title, "Intimate Pat." It was to be different from his regular shows. Intended for his loyal audience. Pat would perform his quieter, more soothing and caressing music. However, "Thursday turned out to be just as crowded, so it's not that intimate anymore," he said with a grin.

Describing the challenge of his audience, Pat stated, "In some places it's like pulling teeth. You can't get people to participate because they don't understand it or they don't want to. When it's a good audience, it's fun for everybody."

Pat has come a long way and he doesn't seem to want to slow down. The seven time WAMI award winner is presently recording another album with Violent Femmes' Victor DiLorenzo co-producing. He's also on the verge of signing a recording contract with Warner/Chappel and will soon be going to California to entertain at a sales and marketing convention. Regarding his future plans, Pat declared, "I want to get in my car and go. I like to live the experience better than records. I don't care if I'm rich; I don't care if I'm famous. I'm my own boss and it's fun. If I can get away with that, then I can't ask for much more out of life."

Pat told me to tell you that he wants to meet you. He'll be your best friend. See him once, you'll love him forever.

Wham, bam, thank you Pat!
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