Jimmy Rankin has packed up his gear, hit the road down Route 19 and crossed the Canso Causeway out of his beloved Cape Breton to execute an extensive 29-date tour taking Rankin and his band right across Canada through late September and October before returning home for a five-date Christmas tour of the Maritimes.
Purpose of this tour is to promote his latest studio release, `Moving East’ an album released September 2018 which documented Rankin’s move back home after a seven-year sojourn in Nashville which resulted in writing songs about true stories, sea shanties and ballads which all reflect a distinctive East Coast flavour.
Co-produced by another Nova Scotian musical icon, Joel Plaskett in his New Scotland Yard studio in Dartmouth Nova Scotia, `Moving East’ features 11 tracks that recapture Rankin’s East Coast Folk-Rock sound, also featuring fellow Cape Breton musicians; fiddle star, Ashley MacIsaac, guitarist J.P Cormier and pianist Hilda Chiasson. “I am putting the party back in kitchen,” Rankin boasted when he released the record, alluding to the record’s live sound which reflected a local tradition of staging impromptu ceilidh parties.
For an artist who has earned five Juno Awards, 27 East Coast Music Awards and seven Canadian Country Music Awards, both with The Rankin Family and as a solo artist, Rankin has returned to his East Coast roots with lyrics about local characters; “The Rawleigh Man”, “Thin Ice”, his Scottish heritage “The Highlander”, the dangers of Cape Breton roads; “These Roads”, lyrics which reflect a love of his homeland; “No More I’ll Go Roving”, “Been Away”, “Turn That Boat Around”, “Down At The Shore” and dealing with a local problem of whale beachings on “Haul Away The Whale”, the suggested solution being to blow it up with TNT.
“I read somewhere that they tried to do this in Connecticut but they only succeeded in blowing huge whale chunks all over the place,” Rankin laughed.
Probably the most authentic track on the album is a good ole fashion fiddle instrumental “Dirt And Potatoes” which gives the colourful Ashley MacIsaac a turn in the spotlight. “Most fiddle musicians recorded their music on cassettes because they couldn’t afford to record CD’s so when Joel and I recorded that track, we wanted Ashley to capture that sort of dirty, raw fiddle sound,” Rankin explained.
Asked why he moved to Nashville in the first place, Rankin said he had always travelled to Nashville during his time with the Rankins and while recording his own studio albums because it is the mecca of all country music recordings. “I didn’t originally plan to spend seven years there but it’s such a creative place, all the top songwriters are here and I was looking at co-writing with other people. There’s such a glass ceiling in Canada, there are limitations on what you can achieve up here,” Rankin explained. “That’s why so many Canadian Country Music artists gravitate there, as are all trying to expand their careers.”
Rankin notes that the residual fall back to this Nashville movement is that so much of the resulting recordings fill Canadian radio playlists meaning there are few openings on the charts for domestic-based artists. “It really is hard to find space on radio for a local artist, I don’t even know why they bother with that Can Con stuff. There really are limitations to what gets played.
He acknowledged that his current material has little chance of getting airwave exposure but Rankin is fine with marketing product to his fan base and selling discs at his concerts. “Social media is a necessary evil,” he laughed. “But it’s the way things are done these days. Moving forward, the trick is to be true to yourself, if you do that, your real fans will find your music and attend your concerts.”
For more information on Jimmy Rankin’s current tour please link to jimmyrankin.com
by Keith Sharp