Irish duo Switchback returns with “Celtic Soul American Roots”

Irish duo Switchback performs "Celtic Soul American Roots" at the Oak Park Arms Retirement Community The Monday Night Concert Series continues with a performance titled, “Celtic Soul American Roots,” performed by Irish duo Switchback at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 19, at the Oak Park Arms, 408 S. Oak Park Ave.

For more than 20 years, Brian FitzGerald and Martin McCormack have been entertaining audiences around the world with their unique American Roots music blended with Celtic Soul. FitzGerald plays guitar and mandolin, and McCormack plays bass and guitar. They both perform the vocals.

In 1986, FitzGerald was a mandolin student of Jethro Burns and had already been touring with Clifton Chenier when he met McCormack, an award-winning voice student of Whelma Oshiem at the American Conservatory of Chicago and a member of the Star Search-selected band, Beyond Blue.

Both were chosen by legendary County Kerry composer and concertina master Terrence ‘Cuz’ Teahan to join his traditional Irish group. Teahan taught FitzGerald and McCormack the old country techniques of Irish musical entertainment making them one of the last generations to be directly influenced by a master of this musical genre.

Teahan, and the power of seeing such Texan greats as Stevie Ray Vaughan, Joe Ely and Rodney Crowell, fueled FitzGerald and McCormack’s songwriting which led to the formation of Switchback in 1993.

Their first album was a commercial success with Chevrolet using one of the songs to promote its Chevy Blazer. Switchback has shared the stage with such notable Celtic musicians and groups as Cherish the Ladies, Gaelic Storm, Liz Carroll and John Williams.

FitzGerald and McCormack annually tour Ireland and frequently perform at the County Mayo’s Westport pub owned by The Chieftain’s Matt Malloy.

Switchback also conducts educational programs and songwriting workshops for school and community organizations. The duo has developed several instructional sessions, and they can customize programs to fit the curriculum or concepts of the clients. Many of these seminars are held in elementary and high schools and libraries, but have been conducted in settings as far-ranging as juvenile detention centers and church camps.

Wherever they play, no matter the size or age of audience, Switchback always captivates and charms folks with their energy and creativity.

The Oak Park Arms is a rental retirement community which provides independent and assisted living apartments and a full schedule of activities and services. Furnished apartments are also available for a short-term stay – a weekend, a week, a month or longer.

The event is free and open to the public. Call Jill Wagner at 708-386-4040.


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