Musical ministers travel through state and time

Saturday, October 20, 2001

OAK FOREST, Ill. -- For most of the year, Phil and Amy Switalski perform close to home.

Singing at weddings, village concerts and even Chicago's Comiskey Park and Wrigley Field, the musical married couple bring tunes from times past to a public they say has forgotten some great songs.

The Switalskis take that nostalgia on the road, on a historic bus tour of Route 66 that takes them and their passengers -- members of their church -- all the way from the south suburbs to a little resort town in the Ozarks.

The music ministers met while Amy was in high school. She was performing in a show as an amateur while Phil, who led bands, already was a professional musician.

Both started playing young -- Phil as a church organist in the second grade and Amy as a childhood pianist from a musical family.

They share the job at church and the rest of the time work on their professional careers as Music by Phil and Amy.

Four years ago, Phil found himself reflecting on childhood trips along Route 66 into Missouri and all the ways in which the historic highway has changed since that time.

So he and Amy organized a bus trip to Cuba, Mo., to the same resort where he used to stay, and took members of their church along.

Now "regular folks" are joining them on their treks, and Phil said it's become one more way he and Amy have brought what they find enjoyable and believe in to a public more used to the antics of ill-behaved rock stars.

"We've always tried to strike a balance so that 50 percent of what we do is entertainment, and the other 50 percent is church," Phil said.

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