Switchback Road was first formed in 2005 by Mike Kirley with his sons Dan and Colin and Derek Pert on banjo. The band had a regular gig on the Danforth in Toronto and during that time developed into a solid driving group with strong traditional influences from bluegrass greats like Bill Monroe, the Stanley Brothers, Jim and Jesse and more. They have been nominated for "Most Promising New Band" at the Central Ontario Bluegrass Awards. Their original composition "That Old Kitchen Floor" was included on the "North To Ontario" CS Sampler that was released in 2007. In 2009 the group took a break from performing when other responsibilities forced son's Dan and Colin to leave and pursue music teaching careers. Switchback Road has since reformed and under Mike's and all the new members' continued efforts and love of traditional bluegrass, has developed into a solid bluegrass group with strong harmonies, driving traditional sound and innovative original music.
Mike Kirley (mandolin and vocals) has been involved with bluegrass for over 30 years. He is the workshops coordinator for the Tottenham Bluegrass Festival (http://tottenhambluegrass.ca/) as wes as being the slow jam coordinator for the Waterloo-Wellington Bluegrass Music Association (https://www.facebook.com/groups/166127452746/). He is also editor of the Bluegrass Music Association of Canada magazine (https://www.facebook.com/bluegrassmusicassociationofcanada.ca). He has played mandolin with Hometown Bluegrass from 1985 through 2014.
Mike's solid Monroe style of mandolin playing and prolific songwriting skills provides Switchback Road with a unique blend of old and new.
Denis LePage (banjo) has been part of the Canadian bluegrass scene since the early '70's. As a member of the London Ontario based Dixie Flyers and Hamilton based Station Road, Denis played numerous festivals and concerts, recorded several albums including two banjo instrumental albums. He has also recorded with many other artists and commercial sessions and has had an influence on many banjo players throughout Canada. Denis continued his bluegrass career through the mid 80's with Limited Edition and Niagara Blue before leaving the professional musician's life for many years. We are happy to have him back on the scene and his innovative combination of driving Scruggs style and creative melodics adds a new dimension to Switchback Road.
Al Neff (guitar, vocals) has been raised in a Bluegrass family from the Kingston area. He is also treasurer of the Waterloo Wellington Bluegrass Music association. He often helps Mike with the Slowjam on Tuesday nights at the Galt Legion. Al has been playing guitar since he was a boy. His influences are John Hartford, Jim and Jesse McReynolds, and Chris Thile.
Drew Elmer (bass and vocals) has been singing since the age of 5 when he and his sister regularly sang in church. In his teens he performed at the Ford Centre for The Performing Arts with the Achill Chorale Society with the Hereford men's choir visiting from England. In 1993 he got involved with the Tottenham Bluegrass festival and that's when the bluegrass bug took hold.
Drew began playing bass around the age of 21 after being challenged by a friend to take up the instrument at a newly formed jam that was taking place at a local pub. He has developed into a solid and innovative bassist and his playing is the backbone of the Switchback Road sound.
Drew is also the lead singer and plays guitar and bass with his father in the popular Celtic band ScIrish. He has also played bass and sang with the bluegrass band Beeton Creek Rising.
Samuel Ganton: (fiddle and vocals) is a Cambridge-based fiddle player and architecture student who stumbled into bluegrass while working in Saskatchewan in the winter of 2014, and hasn't looked back. He may occasionally look sideways, as he still pursues Celtic and prairie old-time styles of playing, and teaches young violin students. But he's working to get more dirt into his bow-stroke and more grunge under his strings. He's played for years in churches, in a family band, and more recently at acoustic brunches in Saskatoon. Samuel is excited to join Switchback Road for a winding journey through the pulsing soundscapes of contemporary and classic bluegrass.