Date:   12/19/2009

Switchback; A Midwestern Christmas

Switchback's Brian FitzGerald and Marty McCormack will give a special holiday performance of “A Midwestern Christmas” at the Thrasher Opera House on Saturday, December 19 at 7:30 p.m. Included in this show will be Christmas favorites such as “Oh, Holy Night,” “Jingle Bells” andAway in the Manger” from their holiday CD "A Very Switchback Christmas" (2005), as well as Irish melodies, lively reels and jigs, and original songs. 

Since Switchback formed in 1993 in Illinois they have released eleven albums that include rock and blues classics, traditional Irish stylings, foot-stomping country and their own unique brand of rock. The duo hits at the heart of what unites Midwesterners through their Celtic soul and American roots music.

FitzGerald has been dazzling audiences on guitar, mandolin and vocal since his college days in 1984. His guitar style is built upon classical training and sessions spent developing the "Freddy Green" rhythm method with jazzmen on Chicago's Hubbard Street. FitzGerald also played electric guitar for the late Clifton Chenier, and as an accomplished mandolin player he studied bluegrass and jazz standards with Jethro Burns.

McCormack adds the bass, guitar and classically trained tenor vocals to Switchback’s energetic sound. He began his Irish music career early in life, heavily influenced by his grandfather from County Mayo and encouraged by his mother to learn traditional Irish songs. He and his nine siblings formed the singing group The McCormack's that performed throughout northern Illinois. In college McCormack received awards and scholarships for his singing and with his brothers went on to form the Chicago rock band Beyond Blue. Whether he's bellowing out a Switchback original or a bawdy Irish bar tune, McCormack's bit of brogue, gift of gab, and generally wandering way of being has waxed productive since the duo met 16 years ago

Switchback’s 2006 CD "Falling Water River" is a tremendous addition to an already impressive catalog of music, including their 2002 "The Fire That Burns," which was selected by Performing Songwriter magazine as one of the 12 best independent releases of the year. "Falling Water River" certainly deserves to be rated as highly.

They’ve since released two DVDs; Americana Sessions, Vol. I & II and Celtic Sessions, Vol. I & II. Both recorded at the famed Soundstage Studio A at Chicago PBS Station WTTW, these DVDs capture the excitement and fun of live concerts featuring all original Americana music written by the duo, and the original and traditional Celtic music performed in an exciting style unique to Switchback.

Switchback may show their Celtic souls with the best of them, yet they've gone a note further than many of their contemporaries, taking the dirt-driven tenacity of their potato-planting ancestors and gnawing out serious American roots. FitzGerald and McCormack continue to contribute to the increasingly popular grassroots Americana music movement, and will bring that passion to their holiday performance.

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts, Kindred Hearts of Green Lake, and the Alliant Energy Foundation. 

Note: Every month, the Green Lake County Food Pantry provides emergency assistance to hundreds of families and individuals in need, which means that the shelves need replenishing on a continual basis.  Please join us in support of the Green Lake County Food Pantry program by bringing a donation of a non-perishable food item to the
Switchback: A Midwestern Christmas performance. Whether a can or a case, your gifts will help make the holidays brighter for area families in need.    


Tickets for this special holiday concert are only $13 and available at the Thrasher office, Knowledge Emporium, Green Lake Bank (Green Lake); Pick N’ Save, Ripon Drug (Ripon); Twister (Princeton) or by calling (920) 294-4279.  Online tickets available at


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