Jimmy Rankin Rocking Across Canada This December

Jimmy Tinsel

jimmy rankin

A year ago I was delighted to kick off the Christmas Season with a concert from multi-award winning East Coast music star Jimmy Rankin’s Holiday Tour, which launched his 2012 album Tinsel Town. The record very quickly became a Christmas staple in our house and last night I was eager to get another chance to experience Rankin’s rollicking and soulful renditions of these songs live, this time at the Marigold Cultural Centre in Truro.

As it is still quite early in the holiday season, Rankin struck a nice balance in his set list between both his original and more traditional Christmas tunes, hit songs from his 2011 record Forget About the World, some classics from his earlier work with his siblings, The Rankins, and, luckily for us, a few songs from his brand-new forthcoming record, which will be launched at the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium in Halifax in March.

There are a great many moments in this concert that harken back to Rankin’s days playing and singing with his siblings for the Christmas dances at the Mabou Community Hall. His jaunty and bluesy renditions of “Winter Wonderland” and “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” as well as his own “Boogie Woogie Christmas” make the audience want to get up and groove along with them. It is particularly incredible in this concert to see how much rock n’ roll star power can be conjured by two incredible musicians with guitars. Rankin only needs the backing of the multi-talented and multi-charming Jamie Robinson to create the illusion and the ambiance of having a full band behind him. Robinson’s gorgeous vocal harmonies give added depth particularly to the quieter songs, such as the record’s titular track “Tinseltown” and Rankin’s distinctive “Silver Bells.” One of my favourite tracks on Tinsel Town is a song that Rankin first heard on John Denver’s Rocky Mountain Christmas (1975) called “Christmas For Cowboys.” I was so glad to have the opportunity to hear him perform it live at the show in Truro. It’s a beautiful, sprawling, country ode to Christmas on the range that suits Rankin’s dreamy-smooth voice gorgeously. It’s one of those songs that swathes the listener like a warm blanket and I found myself listening to it when it came on my ITunes long after Christmastime was over. In general, I heartily recommend that you all make sure to add Jimmy Rankin’s Tinsel Town to your holiday collection. The tracks capture beautifully the jovial, winsome and wistful aspects of the holiday season and are perfect for playing at a Christmas party, while decorating or writing Christmas cards, or to keep car rides this season merry and bright.

We were also treated to four not yet released songs last evening in Truro and it sounds like Jimmy Rankin has another hit record up his sleeve. Following in a similar style to Forget About the World, these new songs are poetic reflections on love, adventure, dreams, travel and home. Meditations on the freedom of driving aimless with a lover in a “Cool Car” or hopping midnight trains to Paris, to building a first home and relishing in a Back Wood Paradise, Rankin’s sixth solo album seems to reflect the desire to find the balance between the excitement of exploring unchartered territory with the security of setting down deep roots. The dramatic tension is clear here between the idea of one being moved to go, yet also wanting to stay.

There were two little boys sitting behind my cousin Amy and I at the concert who I would gauge were both under seven years old and they sang along merrily to both “I’m Just Saying” and “Here in My Heart” and the younger one yelled out, “I LOVE IT” when Jimmy asked the audience how they were doing after the Intermission. It’s clear that his music has a wide, mass appeal that crosses borders of provinces, countries and generations. Rankin encouraged the audience participation even more during the older songs, such as “Movin’ On” and the Rankins’ pub dancing favourite “You Feel The Same Way Too,” the latter of which the audience sang more than Rankin did in a boisterous, yet melodious, chorus. These earlier songs, including “Orangedale Whistle,” which started off the evening, have become East Coast classics throughout the last twenty years and it’s nice to see that Rankin has been able to rework them with Robinson and the rest of his band so that a new generation of audience has the opportunity to experience them.

If you have never seen Jimmy Rankin in concert and you live close to one of the stops on his Holiday Tour I cannot recommend enough making plans to share a cup of cheer with him this Christmas. If you haven’t yet bought a copy of Tinsel Town, or you’re unfamiliar with his canon of music, I suggest that now is the time to get acquainted with one of Canada’s most successful, earnestly soulful and diverse singer/songwriters.

You won’t want to say goodbye to Christmas anytime soon.

Jimmy Rankin’s 2013 Holiday Tour Dates are as follows: 

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