Switchback | American Roots and Celtic Soul Live, Vol. One

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Folk: Modern Folk World: Celtic Moods: Type: Live Recordings
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American Roots and Celtic Soul Live, Vol. One

by Switchback

This album captures the soul of Switchback that you just don't get in the studio, with all the energy and purity of a live performance. Recorded in various settings, from barns to tents to theaters, these tracks are the perfect weave of songs.
Genre: Folk: Modern Folk
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Wrong You Can Write
3:54 $0.99
2. Banshee Gumbo
3:13 $0.99
3. Stellar Jay's Wing
4:04 $0.99
4. Swingin', Rockin', Rollin'
3:21 $0.99
5. Connemara Man
4:16 $0.99
6. The Fire That Burns
4:30 $0.99
7. Spancil Hill
5:02 $0.99
8. Nancy Whiskey
3:41 $0.99
9. Drunken Sailor
4:21 $0.99
10. Ain't Going Back
3:02 $0.99
11. Danny Boy
5:08 $0.99
12. Twister in a Trailer Park
4:40 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
American Roots and Celtic Soul (Volume 1)

OK...so my name is Jim Sundberg and my wife Karen and I have toured the world with these guys since 2005. Karen is the marketing coordinator for the band and I book most of the shows for them in Michigan and Ontario, and sometimes over in Ireland and Italy. Several years ago when we first met the band, I was absolutely overwhelmed with the variety of songs they had written and played while out on the road. And after we got to know them, I felt compelled to document their travels. The crazy thing is that they let me tag along! I have recorded hundreds of hours of audio and video, and have shot thousands of photos of Switchback in some pretty amazing locations.

One thing I should mention is that photography and videography is my real job, but doing it for Switchback is a whole lot more fun. I mean who wouldn't have a great time traveling all over Ireland, Canada and the U.S. with these guys and getting served free Guinness at the shows (hey I was with the band, I had to take the free beer).

Switchback doesn't just play music; these guys are great comedians, storytellers and historians. And after you see them play a few shows (and you should) you start to appreciate the little things, like how they can tune their instruments in-between songs while giving you a fascinatingly obscure history lesson about the city in which they are currently playing (yeah, they do their homework). Oh, and did you know that an Englishman wrote the Irish classic Danny Boy? You would if you'd ever been to a Switchback show.

With so much material gathered over the years, it was inevitable that we would release a series of live albums. This very first live album contains 12 incredible performances, recorded over an 8 year period in the USA and Canada. We selected these tunes to give you a true flavor of a Switchback concert, with all the energy, enthusiasm and eclecticism (one of Marty’s favorite words) that comes from these two guys every time they perform. Switchback LIVE, American Roots and Celtic Soul (Volume 1) is your own personal, hand-crafted Switchback show. Sit back and enjoy (free Guinness not included...sorry)!

Bass and vocals: Martin McCormack
Guitar and vocals: Brian FitzGerald
Percussion: Jim Marshall

1) Wrong You Can Write (written by FitzGerald & McCormack)
2010 - Royal Canadian Legion Branch 054, Haileybury, Ontario, Canada
How far away is Haileybury, Ontario, exactly? Let me give you an idea: St Joseph Island is about eight or nine hours from Chicago and the band has played there about a dozen times over the last seven years. Haileybury is another six hours north and east of St Joseph Island. The trip we made for this recording was a treacherous one, with pounding rain and wind for most of the drive. When we got to the Legion we met up with Lee Marshall, a mountain of a man with a voice to match (the voice of Canadian television). He was our host for the show and we also stayed with Lee and his wife Lucy at their beautiful home in Haileybury. I was still setting up the recording equipment when Lee introduced the band and I really wish I had that today, because with Lee’s rich, deep voice it turned out to be one of the most impressive Switchback introductions I have ever heard.

2) Banshee Gumbo (written by FitzGerald & McCormack)
2006 - Crooked Tree Arts Center, Petoskey, Michigan, USA
Legend has it, this was the first song Marty and Brian ever wrote together. The night this was recorded was the night they dubbed me “The Colonel” (after Colonel Tom Parker of Elvis fame). The guys were getting kicked out of their dressing room so it could be used for a weekly meeting (even though the kitchen was wide open!). I just couldn't believe how the band was being treated and I took the situation in hand to re-secure their dressing room. There were some other issues that had to be dealt with that night and I forever became known as "The Colonel" (please don't tell anyone). Petoskey percussionist Jim Marshall showed up late to meet the band for the first time with the flu and a raging 100+ degree fever. The sound guy refused to let us mic him. (Jim later passed out from delirium and exhaustion in the front row and was non-responsive when Marty invited him from the stage to return for a few numbers.) To add insult to multiple injuries, at show time we discovered one of the speakers had gone out. On the plus side, the house was packed. On the minus side, only half of them could hear the band! But the crowd loved them after all, and we did raise a lot of money for a church in Petoskey and their needy family fund.

3) Stellar Jay's Wing (written by FitzGerald & McCormack)
2006 - Crooked Tree Arts Center - Petoskey, Michigan, USA
This is a great example of Switchback performing a song in progress. Written just a few days before on the back of a McDonald’s bag en route from Colorado to Illinois, this love song written by Marty for his girlfriend (now wife) Annie may sound complete in this recording, but it was really just being taken for a spin in its earliest stages before the audience.

4) Swingin', Rockin', Rollin’ (written by FitzGerald & McCormack)
2008 - Black Cat Concerts, Charlevoix, Michigan, USA
Just before this song was recorded, Marty and Brian were both giving each other a hard time about what the next song was going to be. I thought it would get a little tense, but it became clear that their sniping was all in good fun. Finally, they decided on “Swingin', Rockin', Rollin'.” You can hear the smiles and laughter from their banter spill over into the song. They gave a very tight performance even though Marty and Brian both seemed like they were still sticking it to each other during the entire song. Maybe that added to the energy, and the crowd certainly joined in on the fun. After finishing this song, Marty went off mic to sing “Ave Maria” because an older woman in the front row heard from someone else at the show that he could perform that song, and so she requested it. Right after “Ave Maria,” the band launched into another request – the Rolling Stones’ "Paint it Black." After the second song the woman in the front row looked at her friend and said, "It’s not every day that you hear those two songs in the same show!" It’s true, these guys can switch gears and genres faster than most people can change their socks.

5) Connemara Man (written by FitzGerald & McCormack)
2008 - Royal Canadian Legion Branch 374, St Joseph Island, Ontario, Canada
This was recorded at the benefit concert for the 49th Regiment troops from the Algoma region that were serving over in Afghanistan. We were running a little late getting up to the border because we had a late night at the last show. All the way through the Eastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan Marty and Brian were practicing the words and music for the Canadian National Anthem. They had prepared a very special version to play along with the slideshow of pictures from the base in Afghanistan. We rolled into the border crossing with the van full of gear and Marty was still singing the anthem. We had a letter with us from the Legion stating that we were coming up to St Joseph Island to perform at a benefit concert for the troops. Border services took one look at the letter and asked us what we were doing. Not trying to be cute, I said, "The letter says what we are doing." Well, that was the wrong answer and he asked us to pull over and go into the customs building. We pulled over next to the building and Brian was the first one to get out. An officer shouted, "Sir, get back in the van!" Brian slinked back into the van and the customs guy asked us what we had in our vehicle. We explained that we were going to St Joe Island to play at a benefit for the troops. He leaned into the van, gave us all a stern look and said, “I didn't ask you what you were doing. I asked you what you had in the van.” I tried to show him the letter, but he took one look and said, "Go inside and take the letter to the man at the counter." We went in and presented our precious letter from the Legion to the man at the immigration counter and had visions of the men outdoors tearing into the gear in the van. The man at the counter looked over the letter and then disappeared into a small office in the back. Marty was turning white right before my eyes. Brian just shrugged with his classic "Whatcha gonna do?" look. We waited for over 20 minutes with no word from the back room. Then all of a sudden the officer came out, handed us the letter, and said, “OK you’re good to go.” By this time Marty was almost drained of color and sitting down. We took the letter (and the whiter shade of Marty) and went on our merry way to the island for the show. At the concert that night Marty and Brian performed their amazing version of the Canadian National Anthem for the first time. Because their version is so different it took the audience, military guests included, about 15 seconds before they realized what the song was. They jumped to their feet and many sang along, some with tears in their eyes. One of guests came up after the show and said, "Your version made me realize, for the first time, what a hauntingly beautiful melody that song has, and it made me cry."

6) The Fire That Burns (written by FitzGerald & McCormack)
2006 - Crooked Tree Arts Center, Petoskey, Michigan, USA
This was recorded the same night as “Banshee Gumbo” and “Stellar Jay’s Wing.” By this time, feverish Jim Marshall had gathered enough renewed strength from his front row cat nap to rejoin the band for this poignant number. The sound guy did not want me to mic Jim's hand drums, but while he wasn't looking, and before Jim woke up from his nap, I was able to toss a mic on a rag out onto the stage under his drums.

7) Spancil Hill (traditional)
2006 - Royal Canadian Legion Branch 374, St Joseph Island, Ontario, Canada
Switchback’s rendition of this Irish ballad is performed with an upbeat Americana twist. This is one of my wife Karen's favorites and also one of mine, not only for its music, but for the story behind it. I was amazed at the number of verses this song has when I looked it up online. One day, I asked Marty if he knew all the verses and he calmly said, "Yeah." It is amazing to me that Marty and Brian know the words and music to hundreds of Celtic songs, not to mention over 200 of their own and the probably 200+ old classic rock, blues, jazz, gospel, and bluegrass tunes. That is one of the best things about Switchback. You can travel with them to a dozen shows (and we have done this over a two-week period several times) and each show has a different set list tailored to the crowd and the mood of the evening.

8) Nancy Whiskey (traditional)
2007 - Royal Canadian Legion Branch 374, St Joseph Island, Ontario, Canada
I was at the door setting up the cash box and a man came in and handed me his ticket. He said, "These guys are good....right?” I replied, "You are in for quite a show tonight!" He glanced up at the stage and saw Brian arranging things. "What kind of guitar does he play?" "I think he has the Yamaha tonight," I said. Brian walked out the side door of the Legion and this gave the man a chance to walk up to the stage to carefully survey the band's equipment. I have to tell you that back then Brian was playing his favorite "Old" Yamaha; just picture Willie Nelson's guitar with different strings or Glen Hansard's guitar in the movie "Once.” The man walked back up to me and said, "So what kind of Yamaha is that?" The ticket area was getting busy and, probably not thinking, I just said, "I don't know, I think it's the fast one." He didn't like that answer too much and went over to his seat, slumped down and folded his arms as if to say, "OK 'guitar boy' show me your stuff." Well of course Brian did, and at the break the man tracked me down again and with a sly smile said, "You were right....it is the fast one."

9) Drunken Sailor (traditional)
2008 - Black Cat Concerts, Charlevoix, Michigan, USA
It never fails – Switchback could be at a convention of Professional Live Music Ignorers International and their unique, seductively accelerating version of “Drunken Sailor” would make the crowd sit up and take notice. By the end, Brian’s mandolin-picking hand moves so fast that it pretty much becomes invisible. Like the antithesis to “Danny Boy,” it is similarly one of the most requested and beloved tunes played at any Switchback concert.

10) Ain't Going Back (written by FitzGerald & McCormack)
2006 - Crooked Tree Arts Center, Petoskey, Michigan, USA
This is the title song of the album that started it all. After holding down day jobs and playing together in other bands for years, Marty and Brian finally partnered up and debuted as Switchback with “Ain’t Going Back” in 1994. It was a time of cassette tapes and payphones, and these young guys just starting out as a new band figured that success wouldn’t come overnight. A common sound at Switchback concerts in the ‘90s, this track is a rare treat at shows nowadays, but better than any other Switchback composition, it reflects the determination and steady attitude that has kept them playing together with bigger and better success well earned over 20 years.

11) Danny Boy (traditional)
2011 - Historic Elk Rapids Town Hall, Elk Rapids, Michigan, USA
This was the second year for the Historic Elk Rapids Town Hall benefit and we tried to stream the show to the world...trying to be all techy and stuff. Everything worked great; we even called someone in Iowa and had them test the connection online to make sure it was working out in the far reaches of the Midwest. But when the nearly 200-person crowd came in, we started to have problems and could not figure out what was going on. I looked out into the crowd and noticed a few people taking pictures of the band with their smart phones. That's when it hit me: "The wireless network is trying to service all of these people and their internet connections… plus the video for our live streaming." In other words, our connection turned to mush (a technical term). The video was now going out to the world at around 4 or 5 frames a second...and even that was off and on all night. But all was not lost: the real video and audio recording for this song was excellent, ranking up there with the top versions of “Danny Boy” on the internet and currently has over 40,000 views on YouTube.

Bonus Track – Twister in a Trailer Park (written by FitzGerald & McCormack)
2007 - Royal Canadian Legion Branch 374, St Joseph Island, Ontario, Canada
“Twister in a Trailer Park” is a song that is hard to fit into a Switchback album of heart tugging ballads and serious foot stomping Celtic or Americana tunes. But it does show off their seriously eclectic and humorous tendencies, and it is one the most requested original songs in their catalog of more than 250 handcrafted tunes. They wrote this song on a dare from a music producer in Nashville who told them, "Boys, you are just not country enough." So they set out to write the ultimate Midwestern country love ballad, and as you can tell from the extended barking sequence, this is a very sad, tender and thoughtful country song - "Her love hit me like a Twister in a Trailer Park."

© 2013 Switchback | WayGood Productions | ASCAP

Produced by Jim Sundberg and Dylan Sundberg
Live recordings by Jim Sundberg
Mixed by Dylan Sundberg at Brick House Interactive
Photos by Jim and Karen Sundberg
Album art by Jim Sundberg

WayGoodMusic.com | BrickHouseInteractive.com

Switchback® is a registered trademark of WayGood Productions, LLC, registered in the U.S.



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