As the most wonderful time of the year draws ever closer, Jimmy Rankin brings his holiday tour to Casino New Brunswick.
The acclaimed singer-songwriter, who takes the stage Saturday night, first came to national prominence in the ’90s as a part of the Rankin Family, one of the biggest names to come from Cape Breton Island. With more than a half-million records sold in Canada, the group disbanded in the late ’90s before reuniting again last decade.
Rankin’s career boasts multi-platinum sales both as a part of the Rankin Family and for his solo work. It was during the Rankin Family’s original break that Jimmy found his voice as a solo artist.
A performer with a wide demographic appeal, Rankin’s live shows draw from an impressive catalogue of hits that effortlessly move between roots, country and pop music. He released his solo debut, Song Dog, in 2001. Like his work with his siblings in the Rankin Family, subsequent releases — Handmade (2003), Edge Of Day (2008) and Forget About The World (2011) — easily found an appreciative audience.
Rankin’s most recent effort, Tinsel Town, was released in November 2012. The album is comprised of four Rankin-penned originals alongside traditional holiday songs such as “White Christmas,” “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” and “Let It Snow.”
As the end of 2013 comes into view, Jimmy reflects on the year that was with a feeling of gratitude.
“The past couple of years have been very good for me, not just the past year,” he says. “Forget About The World kept me rather busy touring the country and then, of course, we got to tour right across the country again late last year to promoteTinsel Town. From a career standpoint, there has been a lot of positive happening. It has really been great.”
Rankin is now relishing the opportunity to indulge in a pre-holiday tour across this great land of ours. His 29-show tour, slated to feature a classic mix of holiday songs along with fan favourites, began late last week in Glace Bay and will keep him busy through to Dec. 21 when the tour wraps up in Windsor, Ont.
Rankin’s upcoming tour serves as a break from work on his still-untitled next studio album. Due for release in the spring of 2014, Jimmy is making the album with producer Bill Bell who also oversaw Tinsel Town. He says that while he has dabbled in country music territory on his previous records, his next album is the most definitive move towards the genre that he has made.
“It really isn’t that much of a big shift for me in the musical sense but there is definitely more of a country flavour to the new record, including the use of traditional country instruments like the dobro, mandolin and banjo. It is very exciting, as I have never really dove into the genre this deeply in the past,” he says.
Although Rankin’s prior albums may not bear all of the hallmarks of what constitutes a country record in this day and age, he acknowledges that the country music industry has always welcomed him as one of their own.
“I haven’t always made it easy for country radio to play me,” Jimmy laughs. “But they have been very supportive of my solo work as well as the music I have made with the Rankin Family. I’m making it a little easier on them this time around by including more traditional country music elements.”
As one of the country’s most lauded musicians, Jimmy can lay claim to five Juno Awards, 28 East Coast Music Association Awards, two Music Nova Scotia Awards, two Canadian Radio Music Awards as well as seven Canadian Country Music Association Awards. Despite this impressive tally, Jimmy maintains a completely grounded approach when it comes to writing new music.
Rather than making the songwriting process a solitary event, Jimmy has spent some of the last two years writing songs with some of his peers including Patricia Conroy and Gordie Sampson.
“I have always loved writing with others and gaining outside perspectives to what could help make a great song. In recent years, haven’t done quite as much co-writing as I would have liked to have done but have found that if you have the right person working with you, magical things can happen.”
What: Jimmy Rankin
When: Saturday Nov. 23, 8 p.m.
Where: Casino New Brunswick, 21 Casino Dr., Moncton
Tickets are $39.99 plus taxes and service charges. Advance tickets are available at the Casino Gift Shop, by phone at 1-866-943-8849 and online at casinonb.ca