Brian FitzGerald and Martin McCormack combined instrumental music talent with great vocals to give the audience a wonderful show at the Pearson Lakes Art Center on Wednesday night. They call themselves Switchback.
FitzGerald is from Lansing, in the far northeast corner of Iowa. McCormack is also a Midwesterner. They both embraced their Celtic heritage but also spun some great Americana into their show.
Skilled guitarists, they stand on wooden platforms and tap their toes (and sometimes heels) to provide the sound of drums in keeping the beat. It was resourceful and effective.
McCormack has an impressive vocal range. They both talked between numbers; giving us background information about the songs they would perform. They could also joke with each other and us quite easily.
The duo has been doing this for a long time and are very skilled at it. They will be releasing their 15th album in August.
I found cute the song they did about the stellar jay, a relative of our blue jay, found in Colorado.
Fitzgerald's superb talent on the mandolin was showcased in the song "Birds of Prey." After a few ballads, they cut loose with a good lively beat on "Rocky Mountain Express."
McCormack explained the story about the tune and then creation of the lyrics for "Danny Boy." We have all known the song our entire lives but the explanation made it mean so much more. McCormack did the most beautiful version of that classic song that I have ever heard. It was so beautifully sung that the entire audience sat spellbound. When it was over I saw men wiping tears from their eyes and the crowd cheered loudly. He held that one note for at least two minutes without wavering at all. I will never forget him singing "Danny Boy."
He also did a song about his family roots in Ireland that was awesome. He paid homage to his heritage with "Bolinree" and I loved it.
The audience participated in a question and answer session after the intermission before joining in on the tune "Holy Saints of Ireland." It was about Saint Brendan, Saint Patrick, Saint Bridget and Saint Malachy. Obviously we all received a lesson in Irish sainthood and it was most interesting.
They rounded out the show with "A Simple Benediction." The duo came out to visit with the audience in the common area during intermission and at the show's conclusion and encore. They seemed to have as good a time with us as we did with them, both on stage and off.
Switchback was a thoroughly entertaining evening of music and I, for one, hope they return to do it again someday.