If you’re from the East Coast of Canada, the name Jimmy Rankin should be as familiar as Cape Breton’s Cabot Trail itself. Rankin has been a staple of the music scene in the Atlantic region for more than two decades. Though he got his start with his siblings performing in The Rankin Family, Rankin has since stepped out to forge a highly successful solo career for himself.
A couple of weeks back, Rankin released his fourth solo disc, Forgot About The World. His fans already include country superstar Keith Urban and Canadian songstress Serena Ryder (both of whom appear on Forgot About The World) and before long, the rest of the world will come to recognize Rankin’s talent.
Jimmy recently took the time to participate in the MusicNerd Q&A where he tells us about his first gig drumming for brother John Morris Rankin’s band as well as why he is unlikely to abandon Cape Breton on a full-time basis.
Where do you currently call home?
Between touring and recording, I spend a lot of time on the road. This year, I spent a good part of the winter in Nashville doing some co-writing and – major bonus – escaping the harsh Canadian winter. After all that, home is Cape Breton.
Why do you live where you do?
A lot of artists gravitate towards Cape Breton for it’s beauty, space and solitude which is incredibly inspiring and, I believe fosters creativity.
What is occupying your time these days?
It’s been a busy year – between recording a new CD, writing songs and playing, I spend as much time as I can with my wife and kids just doing normal family stuff.
First record purchased and at what age?
I was a little kid and used money I had earned from playing in my family band to buy a Stompin’ Tom record. When I was 8, I sang his song “Left Cape Breton on a Coal Boat”.
When did you start to play music?
Music was such a natural part of our lives that I can’t remember when I started singing – at birth? I started playing drums when I was twelve. I was playing out in the field one day and my brother, John Morris handed me a pair of drumsticks and said “You’re playing drums for the band tonight”. It was a live gig at the Mabou Hall – he gave me a quick lesson and away we went.
If we took a look inside the bedroom of a 13-15 year old you, what posters would have been on the walls?
Spiderman and lots of my own drawings. From an early age, I was very consumed by art. I used to do elaborate drawings and eventually, I went to art college (NASCAD). At that time, I thought music was my ticket to supporting my art habit.
What three records could you not live without?
That’s a tough one but I’d have to say… John Morris Rankin playing with Buddy MacMaster, Mabou Fire hall early 80s, singles by Hank Williams Sr. and Bob Dylan’s “Blood on the Tracks”.
Who or what is getting too much attention these days?
The royal wedding.
Who or what is not getting enough attention these days?
What has been your most memorable show?
Fortunately there’ve been a lot of great moments but one really cool one was when I was on the bill with Keith Urban for a big outdoor show in Halifax. We ended up jamming to Neil Young’s “Comes a Time” during his set then played my song “Lighthouse Heart”.
Worst career moment thus far?
I really try to focus on positive stuff so to me, the worst of moments are long forgotten history.
Most extravagant rider item?
Bottled water because I would rather not waste the plastic and have filtered tap water – if only it were available everywhere. After that, I suppose I would have to say new socks.