Press | McCurdy enjoys success in own unique category (February 23, 1988)

The UWM Post February 23, 1988

McCurdy enjoys success in own unique category

by Timothy W. Maier

As unbelievable as it sounds, you can actually go to a Milwaukee club and hear the words of the music. That might sound just a touch radical, if the last meaningful words you remember hearing in a club were "De do do do, De da da da," with the emphasis on the second "da" or the meaning is lost.

The place to listen to music is the Celebrity Club, 2203 N. Prospect, and the musician, Milwaukee's perpetual "next rising star," is Patrick McCurdy.

McCurdy, 33, is no stranger in the Milwaukee market. He has previously been with Yipes and the Men About Town. Presently he is with the Confidentials. But lately it's his solo act that's been worth seeing.

"I try all my new songs here," said McCurdy. "The best part about playing here is the freedom to sing anything I want."

McCurdy, who played Monday at UWM's Eighth Note Coffeehouse, is one of several musicians the Celebrity Club features free for the public. Tuesday and Wednesday belong to McCurdy and are by far the most entertaining nights the club offers.

There is no band questioning the purpose of eardrums — only McCurdy with his musical toys. The show starts at 9 p.m. or as soon as he finishes his ritual of playing darts.

McCurdy's first set is a round of "beat the band." That is, if you request a song that he can't play, you win and he won't play the song. More often than not, he will surprise you and play it note for note.

Requests range from a medley of Ricky Ricardo's greatest hits to Bob Dylan singing the Mickey Mouse Theme. He will honor them all except for particular songs that refer to or resemble food.

McCurdy has yet to publicly explain his fear of food songs, although it may be revealed sometime in the future. But as for now, Jimmy Buffett fans are out of luck.

McCurdy's music is more alive than most. How many musicians have you seen lately that are advertised as live, but look dead on stage?

McCurdy is so spontaneous that even his truest fans might even have trouble singing along. He says he's never played a song the same way.

"I'm constantly changing lyrics," said McCurdy. "I change them all the time."

Don't make the mistake of walking out of his show early. McCurdy's last set, which he calls "The Intimate Set," is worth your attention. You would expect something illegal here and to a working person, it probably is. What he does is sit down on the job.

Some of his best original music is played during "The Intimate Set." His antics subside and McCurdy's sensitive music takes over. Songs such as "How" or "Somewhere It's Spring" reveal McCurdy's soul.

It's not that often that a musician has something worthwhile to share lyrically. The trend lately seems to let the lyrics play second fiddle to the drum machines and the synthesizer effects. McCurdy is one of the exceptions.

When stripped of his band, McCurdy brings the emphasis back to the lyrics. Whether he is singing songs of America or broken hearts, McCurdy reminds us of who we are and where we could be going.

For McCurdy, success is slowly rolling in. He recently did a video with The Confidentials for a program on Viacom Cable. He and his band will also be releasing a 10-song cassette entitled "The Good Life." Last year he opened up for John Prine at the Avalon.

At the Eighth Note Coffehouse Monday, McCurdy gave the audience a preview of some of the cuts from the upcoming tape, available, he says, within two weeks. During McCurdy's one hour on stage, the packed audience had their requests fulfilled, and McCurdy was successful performing in styles ranging from polka to rock and roll.

For McCurdy, true success is doing what he loves most. And there is something refreshing about watching a musician who loves his art more than the fame that it sometimes brings.

"Nobody made any rules for the way you live," says McCurdy. "Being happy is what you do is most important."

The best thing about Pat McCurdy is that he is still in Milwaukee. The sad part is, true McCurdy fans know he should really be someplace else.