In January of this year, award-winning musician Keith Mullins embarked on a once-in-a-lifetime journey to Cuba where he and producer Chris Kirby cut the bulk of Keith’s latest record Island Sol.
To help him realize his new album, Mullins put together a group of accomplished Cuban musicians. Among those featured on the record is guitarist Jorge Chicoy whom Fidel Castro called “The Jewel of Cuba” along with drummer Oliver Valdes Rey, pianists Silvio Pupo and Tony Rodriguez as well as Avi Garcia (bass).
The resulting effort is a percussion-heavy album that at times is steeped in Cuban tradition but also offers much in the way of modern flavour.
Performing at Parkindale Hall this evening, Keith says there are many similarities to be found between Cape Breton and Cuba, as unlikely as it may seem at first glance.
“When I went to Cuba, I found that I really connected with the people there as well as with the music scene,” Mullins explains. “I think a big reason why I connected with Cuba so much is because it reminded me of Cape Breton in terms of culture and the spirit of community. When you a resident on an island, whether that means Cuba, Cape Breton or Newfoundland, you are forced to be resourceful because you are cut off from the rest of the world in some ways. I feel it plays a big part strengthening the culture.”
Having earned his degree in classical music, Mullins has performed with some of Atlantic Canada’s biggest names including Jimmy Rankin, Lennie Gallant and Gordie Sampson.
Mullins’ 2011 album Localmotive Farm won the East Coast Music Award for World Album of the Year. His children’s album The Wood Buffalo Youth Song Project, a collaborative effort with Thom Swift won the Children’s Album of the Year at the same edition of the East Coast Music Awards.
World music is something that has long run through Keith’s veins. As an appreciator of rhythm, Mullins admits that he could have taken the easy road and chose to release a contemporary pop album in lieu of Island Sol. He says there is no doubt that a pop record wouldn’t have proven to be quite as artistically fulfilling and therefore has no regrets about his decision.
“There are a lot of people who settle on making pop records these days and while I could have gone that route to try to please people, I was too excited to have this project see the light of day to consider anything else,” says Mullins.
“I spent approximately four months in Cuba prior to going down to make Island Sol and had the good fortune of studying with musicians that are world-class players. The guys that I had perform on the album were as close to perfect as they come; I am very lucky to know them and to have written a record that they could identify with. I don’t know that I will be able to create anything better than what we captured on Island Sol.”
What: Keith Mullins
When: Saturday Oct. 18, 8:00 p.m.
Where: Parkindale Hall, 3434 Route 895, Parkindale
Tickets are $10, available at the door. Tickets may also be reserved via email: email@example.com