They are alley warriors with the gentlest of souls, these two musicians alleged Martin McCormack and Brian FitzGerald who are the bandage Switchback. And they will acquaint you that there abide abundant adventures and appropriate joys afterwards about 30 years of arena and autograph and traveling together.
“One year we absitively to log the afar we were driving. It was added than 35,000 and we absitively never to log the afar again,” says FitzGerald. “Now, if I capital to be a blue Irishman, I would acquaint you that there is a semi out there about with our names on it. We’ve been actual lucky.”
They accept additionally been actual good. “Fighting adjoin actuality pigeonholed,” as McCormack puts it, they accept finer circuitous the genres of American roots and Celtic soul, autograph and arena songs that accept created a characteristic and agreeable anatomy of work.
They accept produced, through their absolute Way Acceptable Music label, added than a dozen albums as able-bodied as three PBS specials and some concert DVDs. For three years in a row, the brace was alleged the Top Irish Accumulation by the Irish Musicians Association. They accept opened for Jethro Burns, John Hartford and Leon Russell, aggregate stages with Gaelic Storm and Chicago’s fiddle-playing admiration Liz Carroll.
Praise has appear easy, as this from Music Connection Magazine: “The words ‘American Roots & Celtic Soul’ alone activate to call this abnormal act, whose articulate accomplishment is as authentic as it is unique. There is no abstinent the beauteous articulate blends that are accomplished by this duo.”
Then there is this from the liner addendum for their 2005 album, “Falling Water River,” a accolade to collapsed soldiers in a wars, accounting by above Chicagoan Ron Pen, who was a music assistant at the University of Kentucky: “(This) is an amazing constitutional through the affection of Americana soul, a adulation adventure ambrosial of Walt Whitman’s agreeable verse. … It is the complete of America itself.”
But there are, on a constant basis, subtler rewards.
“If you absolutely appetite to accomplish music for a active and for a life, you accept to get out there and comedy everywhere,” says McCormack. “We will allotment our music through association outreach. We comedy retirement homes, we comedy churches, we comedy schools and we comedy prisons.”
“It is a acceptable affair to get off the baffled path,” says FitzGerald. “There are a lot of baby towns area bodies accept a absolute ache for alive music. There is article about religious and article absolutely bewitched about a alive performance.”
They told me that bristles years ago and they told me that afresh a few weeks ago back they chock-full actuality to comedy this year’s one and alone bounded appearance.
“We are still at it. Two hundred shows a year and there are a lot of added artists accomplishing the actual aforementioned thing, toiling away, active from abode to abode to allotment their music,” says FitzGerald.
Their alley began in the mid-1980s at the bend of Bothwell and Wilson streets in northwest burghal Palatine. This was the area of a tavern/music club alleged Durty Nellies, and still active at 180 Smith St., its home back 2003.
McCormack was on date with some brothers and a sister. There were 10 kids in his family, a breed that fabricated up, as McCormack puts it, “the von Trapp ancestors of McHenry County.”
He was cutting a blooming V-neck sweater while arena bass, guitar and singing. FitzGerald, who has eight siblings, was in the admirers and was eventually captivated on date to comedy guitar and mandolin and sing. He and McCormack hit it off and would comedy calm for some after years in a bandage alleged the Wailin’ Banshees, which focused agilely and finer on acceptable Irish music.
“As a apostasy adjoin that, Marty and I started autograph our own songs and arena them amid sets. That basically alienated the others in the band,” says FitzGerald.
They captivated all address of sounds and words at FitzGerald’s, the Berwyn work of agreeable eclecticism calmly endemic by Brian’s ancestor and two of his brothers. “Our music and songwriting were so acutely afflicted by actuality there so much,” says McCormack. “It was our agreeable finishing school.”
In 1993 they formed Switchback and accept been on the alley anytime since.
Somehow, during all the shows and all the miles, they acquisition time to accumulate autograph songs as able-bodied as a active blog and newsletter. McCormack has additionally accounting a actual acceptable book about his growing up in Woodstock. Titled “Rose Farm Road,” it is now authoritative the circuit of publishers.
Sunday they are assuming at a abode alleged Shep’s Riverside Bar and Grille in Lansing, Iowa, almost 250 afar from Chicago and area FitzGerald lives with his wife, Maggie; they accept two developed children, Chris and Siobhan. McCormack and his wife, Anne Baudouin de Courtenay, alive in Rogers Park with their 4-year-old daughter, Aine.
Switchback’s agenda again takes them to Virginia, Florida and Colorado. In November, as they accept for added than a decade, they will be arch a accumulation on a bout of Ireland. Again in February they will commence on their third accumulation cruise to Costa Rica.
That Central American country is 3,500 afar from Chicago. You could drive there, of course, but Switchback and the 20 some bodies who will be aing them will be aerial (there are still spaces available; added at www.waygoodmusic.com).
“It’s an amazing country, a close Ireland, abounding with bodies who accept a 18-carat affection and faculty of amusement and an alacrity to get to apperceive you,” says McCormack. “We do wind up accomplishing a bit of active there and the anchorage are appealing rugged. But there accept consistently been acceptable angels attractive out for us, and if you are activity to hit potholes, why not do it back it’s 75 degrees alfresco and there’s a bar on the bus?”
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