Switchback joins forces with the
Grand Pops Orchestra of Dubuque
By Sandye Voight
Dubuque Telegraph Herald
The 30-piece Grand Pops Orchestra of Dubuque will join the award-winning duo Switchback for the first performances of "Falling Water River," Saturday-Sunday, Sept. 8-9, at the Grand Opera House.
An Irish Blender
By Ryan Smith
The music of Chicago’s Switchback is a warm and inviting blend of styles combined from an eclectic mix of musical influences, prominently featuring American and Irish folk traditions. Read entire article here
City hosts world premiere of Hibernian Mass music
By Judy Russell
The Oshkosh Northwestern
Another first for Oshkosh — it will be the host for the world premiere of new Hibernian Mass music as part of Oshkosh Irish Fest... Marty McCormack, composer of the new music, said he wrote this for Irish festivals, but that the Mass at Oshkosh Irish Fest will be the first performance.
Switchback brings blues, jazz, rock and Celtic to Bay City's State Theatre
By Pati LaLonde For Mlive.com
May 14, 2012
It all started in a neighborhood tavern in Palatine, Ill., in a place called Durty Nellies, where Switchback was born. “Marty (McCormack) was there playing with his family band,” said Brian Fitzgerald. “He's one of 10. Marty pulled me up on stage with his family to play. I recognized him as an amazing tenor. It wasn't so long later, we teamed up.”
Switchback, Namoli Brennet in concert at Steyer Opera House Saturday, April 14
Celebrate community radio at the Steyer Opera House in the Hotel Winneshiek Saturday, April 14, for the 2012 KPVL Spring Membership Soiree featuring a special performance by Celtic and Americana Roots duo Switchback. Read entire article here
Sounding Irish: Emerald Isle duo returning to Munster for early St. Pat's show
By Phillip Potempa
Northwest Indiana Times
March 9, 2012
When asked how to describe their show, entertainer Marty McCormack, one half of the performing duo Switchback, says the Irish term "hooley" best sums up the fun.
"A 'hooley' is a party and celebration with others," McCormack said. "And our show is filled with song, some humor, a little storytelling, dance and of course, great music."
Read entire article here
By William Smith
January 6, 2012
If you're itching for a live band to start off the new year, look no further than the unique music of the American roots and Celtic soul band Switchback. The duo will perform at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Starr's Cave Nature Center and at 8 p.m. Saturday at the American Legion Hall in Donnellson, and they plan on bringing down the house with the kind of music a lot of Iowans grew up on.
By Sarah Ward
Elk Rapids News
January 5, 2012
Brian FitzGerald and Martin McCormack (the American traveling duo) will make any Irish eyes smile, and ears, too. Bringing a Celtic flare to traditional holiday tunes and engaging the audience with good old tasteful humor, Switchback gives back. A portion of the proceeds from Thursday evening’s concert event benefited the Historic Elk Rapids Town Hall Association’s efforts to preserve and maintain this unique venue.
Benzie County Record Patriot
December 14, 2011
BENZONIA - The Mills Community House presents a special holiday benefit concert by the international-touring band Switchback on Wednesday, December 28 at 7:30 p.m. The concert supports the Mills House ongoing efforts to operate and maintain the historic building as a community venue. Featuring Chicago musicians Martin McCormack, Brian
FitzGerald, and Nick Hirka, Switchback plays over 200 engagements each year, many in support of historical performance venues.
By Lisa Brainard
Bluff Country Reader
August 15, 2011
I have another worthwhile event I'd like to note. It will occur the weekend of Aug. 19 to 21 - the Haybarn Rendezvous at The Natural Gait, rural Marquette, Iowa. I attended this last year and, boy, was it fun...The excellent Irish singing duo known as Switchback will headline the show...
By Jeremy D. Bonfiglio
The Herald Palladium
of Southwest Michigan
July 22, 2011
THREE OAKS - Marty McCormack and Brian FitzGerald have collected a lot of memories in the 18 years since forming their Americana/Celtic band Switchback, but none of them stand out more than a 1996 concert in Lansing, Iowa, on the shores of the Mississippi River.
By Shelly Sparks
The Chronicle of Grand Lake
March 31, 2011
The beautifully restored, historical Coleman Theater in downtown Miami, Oklahoma played host again to the enchanting music of Switchback. With the unmatched acoustical perfection the theatre structure provides, paired with the talent of Martin McCormack and Brian Fitzgerald, pure magic was achieved. Read entire article here
By Kimberly Watley
Sauk Valley Newspapers
March 14, 2011
DIXON – You’d never know by looking at him that 24 hours earlier, Takeshi Horiuchi was experiencing a natural catastrophe. In fact, at the time, he didn’t realize how bad it was, either.
Horiuchi, a drummer with the Irish band Switchback, boarded an airplane in Japan on Friday. About 20 minutes later, while sitting on the tarmac, he heard the pilot over the intercom asking everyone to buckle up. Unaware of the magnitude, he knew it was an earthquake...
“The plane was shaking like turbulence, but we were on the ground. We had limited information and no idea how big it was. We did not know about the tsunami. We stayed for 7 hours on the ground before takeoff.”
By Megan Hart
The Muskegon Chronicle
Irish-style band Switchback will perform at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church at 1 p.m. Sunday to raise money to feed the hungry. “It'll really be a treat,” Our Lady of Grace parishioner Greg Russick said. “We'll be able to break bread with a lot of people and enjoy this band that people flock to every Irish Fest.” Russick and his wife, Penny, are members of the church's Contemporary Music Ministry Group, which had played Mass
with Switchback for the Michigan Irish Music Festival. Read entire article here
By Don Weeks
Elk Rapids Live
It’s amazing how much sound can come from two guys with guitars, using no percussion other than foot-stomping and guitar-slapping. No electronic mumbo-jumbo like beat boxes or pre-recorded back-up music was present, which is a welcome treat and a tribute to tradition...
Martin McCormack and Brian FitzGerald have been performing together for a long time, and it shows. Their camaraderie is obvious and their timing, accompaniments and harmonies are impeccable. Also impressive is their sense of mixing up the selection and tempo of the songs they play—a wonderful mix of ballads, rabble-rousing, original and traditional.
Read the entire review here
By Daniel Durchholz
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"Ghosts of the River Folk, the latest album by American roots music and Celtic soul duo Switchback, has a St. Louis connection: the late banjo virtuoso and singer-songwriter John Hartford, who grew up in University City. "There's a song on the album that is really the centerpiece, called 'The Mayfly Dance,'" says guitarist, mandolinist and vocalist Brian FitzGerald. He and Marty McCormack, who plays bass and also sings, were "fortunate enough to open for John Hartford once in Lansing, Iowa. It was right on the shores of the Mississippi, which was very near and dear to his heart."
By Howard Dukes
South Bend Tribune
Brian FitzGerald proudly describes Switchback as a Celtic soul band.
“Both (FitzGerald and Martin McCormack) have that in our ancestry,” he says. “The old sod of Ireland is in our DNA.”....“I knew (that Irish music) was somehow important to me,” he says. “(When) I was in grade school, I heard my mother listen to recordings of ‘Danny Boy’ and crying. It evoked a lot of emotions and it was very powerful.” Read the entire article here
By Scott Smith
The Times Record, Ft. Smith, AR
It's amazing what sounds and vibes can happen with so few on-stage players. That less-is-much-more mentality is what drives the musical engine that is Switchback, an award-winning, Celtic duo. "Sometimes, two people can sound like four or even six musicians," said Switchback guitarist/mandolin player Brian FitzGerald. Read the entire article here
By Lisa Brainard
Bluff Country Reader
"I had just the right dose of music and nature a couple weekends ago when I attended The Haybarn Rendezvous at The Natural Gait, situated between Harpers Ferry, Marquette and Monona, Iowa. My favorite Celtic/folk band Switchback was there, as well as Big Blue Sky Band, one-man folk legend Dave Moore and newcomer Mark Kuhmala from London, Ontario, whose acoustic guitar music I really enjoyed." Read the entire article here
North Bay Nugget
"The Soup Kitchen Community Centre is switching it up, so to speak. A weekend fundraiser will be the first of its kind for the James Street facility... Calna McGoldrick, soup kitchen co-ordinater, said band brass contacted the facility, offering Switchback's services as the band planned a swing through the region. The band, whose musical style ranges from Celtic to Cajun, is also slated to play Blind River Thursday and Thessalon Friday. The former gig is a fundraiser for the Blind River District Health Center Foundation and the latter is a benefit dance for Algoma Manor and the Royal Canadian Legion...Band members Marty McCormack (bass and vocals) and Brian Fitzgerald (guitar, mandolin and vocals) both have Canadian roots, so international tour schedules often include stops north of the 49th parallel." Read the entire article here
by Brian Fox
"Marty and Brian are on their annual summer Northern Ontario tour and they are making a stop on St. Joseph Island to perform at this very important benefit.."
Read the entire article here
By Tom Vranich
Elk Rapids News
Grass River Natural Area is staging a special benefit concert featuring the award winning band Switchback at Peterman Auditorium in Elk Rapids. Switchback is on their annual tour through northern Michigan and northern Ontario and they are making a stop in Elk Rapids to play at this very important benefit event. If you have never heard this amazing band, here is your chance to enjoy a truly unique musical experience. Read the entire article here
By Will Blanchard
Joplin Globe Staff Writer
Martin McCormack and Brian FitzGerald place their duo Switchback’s musical thesis on the performance of both traditional “Celtic soul” and “American roots,” but according to the group, the differences are few. “There’s a direct lineage between Irish and Americana,” McCormack said. “Americana has its roots in Celtic music and really encompasses the traditions for us.” Read entire article here
By Wes Franklin
Their music has been described as "celtic bluegrass that rocks."
Fans say they’re “one of the best live acts” ever seen.
They’ve played with the likes of such musical entertainers as Moody Blues, Kansas and Leon Russell. And they’re coming to Miami’s Coleman Theatre. Read entire article here
By Pete Maher
Publisher & Editor
Midwest Irish Focus
Spending some time with Switchback's latest release "Ghosts of the River Folk" I could not shake a sense of déjà vu...Then it hit me that what I was hearing was very similar in tone and delivery to one of my favorite periods in rock history - that innocent period just after the break from traditional folk but just before drugs began to become commonplace. A time when lyrics were cleanly delivered, the melodies were catchy and the message was optimistic. Click to read the entire review.
The words “American roots & Celtic soul” only begin to describe this unusual act, whose vocal prowess is as pure as it is unique. While there is a modern folk-pop sensibility here, the trad roots of Brit and American folk clearly resonate in “The Mayfly Dance,” “Absolutely Stunning,” and “Black Mountain,” and it makes for a curious concoction, especially due to a distinct throwback aspect that lends a formality and rigidity to the performances. Still, there is no denying the stunning vocal blends that are achieved by this duo. Click to view magazine pdf
by Mary Palmer
Former Director of Regional Programming for High Plains Public Radio and Avid Switchback Fan
That is NOT Switchback...oh, wait! That IS Switchback. You won't believe your ears when you hear the newest CD, "Ghosts of the River Folk". Think Beatles/Pop/Snap infused with all the wholesome goodness Switchback brings to every project. I heard there was a Beatlesque sound to the new CD and almost tossed it aside and yet, it is Switchback so I HAD to pop it in. Yes, there was Marty and Brian without a doubt but they were somehow channeling some of the sounds from my big sister's transistor radio through them. They have pulled the best of what Pop has ever had to offer with the clear, evocative and soul-stirring storytelling that we've come to expect from these kings of Indie music. Timeless tales of love and heartache woven through every song with the sharp needle of current culture. It is pure Switchback and you are going to love this latest turn they take.
by Rick Minerd
Writer/ Author/ Former Broadcaster
Marty McCormack and Brian FitzGerald have created another collection of amazing songs in their latest package of musical jewels called Ghosts of the River Folk.
I was expecting their very familiar and often raucous Irish blend of folk and pure Celtic Soul, but what I found was ten songs that seem to represent an extension of this amazing duo's endless ability to be familiar as well as original.
Every piece of music these guys share with their legions of fans sounds as if they got there first, whether it is a well-known ballad or something from their impressive vault of personal creations. The music they make and share, either in live performances or on recorded disc is distinctively theirs and if you've ever heard them you know it's them when you hear it.
But this new CD sounds to me like they have reinvented another good thing. Every cut on this album is similar to the original "Switchback" sound, but to me, and maybe only to me, I can hear something very close to the British sound that changed pop music forever when it first made its way into our culture.
As bold as this sounds even to me, I hear shades of "Rubber Soul" here. A lot of Marty and Brian's music takes as much energy to listen to as it might take for them to perform it. Yet this is another pleasant surprise, a collection of songs that is as easy to hear first thing in the morning as it is as I compose this essay about it.
I am listening to it for the second time as I write, and I'm liking it more than the first time. And in addition to what I can only describe as Beatle-esque, I am reminded of many of the other British and American music that I grew up with and later played as a radio disc jockey. Yet every song sounds new, and every song is new.
I cannot call out my favorite on this one. But if Marty and Brian said, "Pick oneor we will never come back to Columbus and play for you, "I might say, "Rock Your Heart. " But then I would probably say, "Wait a minute..." It would be that tough, and I remember thinking the same thing about "Rubber Soul." See for yourself.
By Janell Bradley, Editor
Not long after we’d arrived in Ireland, the first venue for our travel hosts, the Irish roots band, Switchback, was to play in a pub in Killarney. Traveling abroad with musicians is icing on the cake of what is already a great itinerary. Around 8 p.m., our group walked a couple of blocks from our hotel to OConnor’s, to get good seats. We ordered our pints of Guinness and soon our feet were tapping to Brian’s mandolin and Marty’s bass guitar as they performed some of the songs they’ve written, such as “Mayfly Dance,” and the “The Miser.” Click here to read the entire article
On Wednesday, Dec. 30. at 7:30 p.m. the Grayling Rotary Club is staging a Holiday Benefit Concert featuring the award-winning Chicago duo Switchback. Switchback is on a short tour up north over the New Year’s weekend and they are making a stop in Grayling to play at this benefit event. The proceeds from this concert will go to support the Grayling Rotary Club community efforts....Switchback tours the world every year playing festivals, performing arts centers, opera houses, theaters and pubs from Iowa to Canada and from Ireland to Italy. In 2008, Switchback traveled to almost half of the states in the U.S. and played to international audiences in The Netherlands, Ireland, England and Canada. This winter they are off again for tours of Ireland and Italy in January and February and on the way they stop over on an island in Northern Ontario to play at a sold-out performance this New Year’s Eve...Click here to read the entire article
By Peggie Miller
Two guys with an unlikely moniker — SWITCHBACK — came to town with guitars and a mandolin last week and left with a collection of hearts. Not in recent memory has the Crighton Theatre, through the MONTGOMERY COUNTY PERFORMING ARTS SOCIETY, hosted so personable a duo. The music they played was mostly Celtic, or as a publicity phrase put it, “American roots music with a Celtic soul.” Their voices blended in heart-tugging harmony, and they made more music with two guitars, a sometimes mandolin, and those voices than some six piece bands produce. Click here to read the entire article.
by Tori Brock
If St. Patrick’s Day is your favorite holiday and you can’t wait to celebrate your Celtic heritage next March, Switchback has an upcoming performance you won’t want to miss.
Switchback is a part-Americana, part-Celtic duo that has performed all over the world and now the duo is coming to the historic downtown Crighton Theatre Saturday, thanks to the Montgomery County Performing Arts Society. Click here to read the entire article.
By Peggie Miller, Performing Arts Columnist
Switchback’s music, ranging from “wild Irish polkas to sentimental ballads,” seems a little off the beaten path. But the harmony and musicianship of MARTIN MCCORMACK and BRIAN FITZGERALD appeal to a diverse audience. Click here to read the entire article.
Thank you for coming to our school. I really like your music. It was very interesting how you guys sang about history. Both of you are very talented. So thanks again. It was very fun watching you sing and play your instruments. I wish you guys lots of luck playing for everyone else in the world and I know they will enjoy you also.
Inland Lakes, Michigan
by Kristi Kates, Groupee.com Writer
Americana-Celtic duo Switchback have been doing the DIY band thing from their earliest beginnings 23 years ago in Illinois. Mandolin student Brian FitzGerald - the "elder statesman" of the band, as he'd already been on the road touring - met Marty McCormack, a voice student at the American Conservatory of Chicago (and a member of Star Search band Beyond Blue) through fortuitous circumstances. They were both chosen by legendary master composer Terrence Teahan to join his traditional Irish music group. Click here to read the entire article.
by Mary Stegmeir
Waterloo/Cedar Falls, Iowa
It can be somber and solemn, or witty and whimsical. Few other genres seem as well-suited to the array of human emotions as Celtic music, and the Irish duo Switchback is one of the best bands suited for the job...."Celtic music is a very tribal kind of music," said McCormack, who plays guitar and bass guitar. "Whether you're a Celt or not - Irish or not - you feel it. It's a music and culture that appeals to everyone."
A milestone was accomplished on July 16, when we had our first live web concert and chat room on the WayGood website. For those of you who missed it, it was an exciting evening at the Soo Theater for not only Brian and Marty, but the people in the audience. They were told that they were part of a bigger event with people watching and commenting from Germany to Florida. Watch the archived broadcast online...
from: Rick Minerd's blog "Life is a Jukebox"
Every time I listen to Marty and Brian I know how lucky I am to be a music lover.
As a broadcaster I cleared my throat and cut my teeth on rock & roll, but later came to appreciate country music and easy listening just as much. also dabbled with jazzy radio formats for a while, and with a few stations that specialized in the very basic American standards. I'm very at home with Frank Sinatra, Andy Williams, Bill Monroe, Waylon Jennings and Jimi Hendrix. And whatever falls between that eclectic gathering of music makers. Playing and enjoying songs written and recorded by the great masters ranging from Cole Porter to Jimmy Webb.
I can feel as melancholy listening to Johnny Cash as easily as I do when I hear Ricky Nelson or The Beatles. And, I can also jump to my feet and join everyone around me during a raucous Irish Jig just as quickly as I can while being serenaded by flaming bluegrass jams. Okay, maybe not as quickly as I could have ten or forty years ago, but the mind remains just as eager and the heart still pounds pretty soundly when I hear Switchback fusing all of that together. That is what Marty and Brian do, they grab the various musical genres by the guitar strings and fuse it all together to create absolute symphonies, of everything we music lovers are passionate about.
Celtic music by any other name is defined by what this duo is able to do with a song, whether one of their own, or one made famous by someone else in another era. It all sounds new when Marty and Brian touch it personally. With that constant passion for getting it right and making believers of audiences around the globe, their music speaks universally.
A few times each year we get an opportunity here in Columbus, Ohio to enjoy this world class act without traversing the planet in search of them, or someone like them. And there are other singers and musicians like them, as a matter of fact, the guys credit them during every show. They're called influences. And that list includes the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughn, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and The Beatles among many others.
Clearly they have been influenced by the best from the Celtic stages as well, and if I had been paying closer attention to that musical theatre I would probably be able to name some of them. But I only joined this theatre of sound about a year ago. One of my better decisions.
Switchback is Marty McCormack and Brian FitzGerald and they tour year round. Sample their music at www.waygoodmusic.com/ and then check your local entertainment listings to see when they will be in your area. This is a favor that any music lover, or just someone wanting to feel good can do for themselves.
Rick Minerd - Freelance writer Photographer Former Broadcaster WCOL WMNI WRFD WNCI WTVN Retired Chief Of Police Former Deputy Sheriff, Franklin County Sheriff's Office
Keokuk High School Choir students listen as Brian FitzGerald, guitar, and Marty McCormack on bass perform one of their songs. The duo, known as the band Switchback, are Artists in the Schools, visiting Keokuk Middle School, the high school, Kid Zone and Southeastern Community College, Keokuk, this week.
From a review for Falling Water River
"On Falling Water River, Brian FitzGerald and Martin McCormack take a minimalist approach... However, they aren't above using ethereal sound effects, which give the album an inviting dreamlike quality. 'Looking at Love' is a bluegrassy tune that recalls Nickel Creek, while 'The Loneliest Road' may remind listeners of Simon and Garfunkel. 'Requiem,' sung entirely in Latin, is something you might take out of an early Moody Blues playbook."
From "Festival brings 'Switchheads' back year after year" by Marla Miller:
"Many people don green at an Irish festival, but this group of women had t-shirts specially made for the occasion. The back of the shirts read 'Switchhead Sisterhood' above the outline of a fun-loving female figure. Below her, the phrase 'American Roots, Celtic Soul.'"
From "Cream of Cornfest"
by Donna Schell
"Canada has a mystical and geneaolgical hold on Switchback . . . But the duo, who have toured together for the past 20 years throughout the United States and Europe, have not, until now, strummed their stuff north of the 49th parallel. 'We are real excited to be making our debut in Ontario in a matter of days,' said McCormack in a recent interview. . . The singer-songwriter duo will be one of six acts performing on the main stage at the 36th annual St. Joseph Island Cornfest Saturday."
From a review for Bolinree by Tom Nelligan:
"The familiar Star of the County Down is emphatically rocked up with some buzzing electric guitar. The title track is a sentimental original song that recalls rural life in the west of Ireland from an emigrant's perspective. And there are a couple hot jig sets, too."
From an interview with Marty and Brian:
What is the hardest thing about being in a band for this genre?
Stereotyping. Pigeonholing. It's a constant proving that you have what it takes to be a professional musician. It's like being on the campaign trail all the time. You are working for respect, recognition and exposure.
From a Bolinree review by Donna Eckberg:
"Lloyd Maines has once again produced a masterpiece for the duo. The Wobbly Jigs treats your ears with a luscious, full sound and introduces you to the special guest artists featured on this release: fiddler Liz Carroll, an all-Ireland champion; a Chicago squeeze-box legend, John Williams; and percussionist Jim Hines. Each of these fine artists adds Celtic credibility to the CD as they mingle with Switchback's pop/rock sensibility."
Switchback's show featuring the release of Bolinree at the Focal Point was singled out as a "Don't Miss" event.
One of Marty's famous high kicks is captured on film while the band entertain a young audience. Switchback were honored to be part of the Dubuque Arts Council's artists-in-residence program.