November 21, 2009 - Belleville Intelligencer
By Luke Hendry
Christmas takes on a Celtic sound this season at
the Empire Theatre.
"We do have a great Christmas season coming up," said Andy Forgie, the
Empire's promotions manager.
This year the lineup has an unintentional East Coast focus, he said.
"That kind of act has always done well here."
And several of those acts are now back on the bill.
It begins with John McDermott and Friends' A Family Christmas show
"John will bring his kind of Celtic balladry that he's famous for
doing," said Forgie.
"He always brings a great special guest," said Mark Rashotte. This
time it's Russell deCarle, frontman of Prairie Oyster.
"That'll be fun," Rashotte said. "It makes the show very interesting."
Country singer George Canyon arrives Nov. 29 to perform both his hits
and Christmas tunes.
The Rankin sisters leave behind the rest of their family for a
maritime concert Dec. 10.
"The Rankin sisters are a great bunch of girls -- such great talent,"
Rashotte said, noting the show will have a Christmas feel but will
contain largely of other material.
Another family act is back Dec. 15. The Leahys haven't performed as a
group on the Empire stage since its 2003 opening season. Hailing from
Lakefield (on the east coast of Peterborough), they'll continue the
Closing out the season is the Dec. 19 Quinte Ballet School performance
of The Nutcracker.
But it isn't just holiday music on stage this month and next. Crooner
Matt Dusk is here Nov. 25.
Rock band The Stereos perform Nov. 26 and is aimed at a younger
"It's a different demographic than we normally get at the theatre,"
said Rashotte. "It's going to be a great night."
He said booking acts that aren't geared toward the theatre's usual
crowd is "worth the risk" because it may build an audience for a
One no-brainer, though, is Blue Rodeo. The crossover country-rock
band's two shows aren't until March 7 and 8 and already the first
level of seats has sold out.
"They're an institution in this country and their fans will travel to
see them," Rashotte said. "It's exciting to have those acts here
because I know they could be playing two hours from here and all their
fans from Belleville would probably get in their cars to see them.
"It's really nice to see that we are very much on their radar screen
as a place they want to perform."
Several other early-2010 acts have also been booked.
They include Colin James, guitarist extraordinaire and another
reliable ticket seller.
"He always reinvents himself each time -- whether it's his big band,
his small band, or in this case his blues band -- it's great fun,"
* The ballet school will hold a Dirty Dancing fundraiser Nov. 28.
They'll both perform their own take on the movie's style and screen
the movie itself.
Rock artist and activist Matthew Good and opening act Mother Mother
arrive Dec. 8. Comedian Derek Edwards makes his third Empire
appearance Dec. 11. (Watch The Intelligencer next week for an
interview with Edwards.)
* Country veteran Tommy Hunter comes back Jan. 24 to play for his very
"He's going to have a video component this time," noted Rashotte.
* Comic Jeremy Hotz appears Feb. 27.
* Eclectic musician Matt Andersen and guest act WIL appear Feb. 26.
* Steven Page, recently of Barenaked Ladies, appears March 11 as part
of the Art of Time Ensemble concert series which last featured Sarah
Slean. He'll be doing a variety of tunes, including those by Leonard
Cohen, Jane Siberry, Radiohead and more.
Also coming soon is a better view for fans in the back half of the
Late this year or early next, Rashotte said, "we'll have video screens
so people in the balcony can see people's faces a lot better." The
screens will be placed mid-house.
Looking even farther ahead, the Empire's owner said acts for the usual
blockbuster summer concert series haven't yet been confirmed, but he's
working on it.
"Everything's in high gear," said Rashotte, hinting the dates and
formats may get a shuffle.
Many of the theatre acts announced to date, meanwhile, are already on
sale. Showtimes vary. Call 613-969-0099 or visit theempiretheatre.com
November 26, 2009 - Truro Daily News
TRURO – Jimmy Rankin is one of four Nova Scotian
singers taking the Marigold Cultural Centre stage this weekend.
On Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Rankin will participate in a songwriter’s
circle in which musicians will discuss their songs and inspirations.
Rankin, from Cape Breton and originally with The Rankins, has
accumulated numerous accolades and nominations including East Coast
Music Award for Country Artist of the Year in 2002; a Canadian Radio
Music Award for Best New Solo Artist – Adult Contemporary, numerous
ECMAs and two Juno nominations, to name a few.
The event will also feature Steve MacDougall from SlowCoaster fame.
MacDougall’s song Spanish Bay won second place in the national song
writing competition in 2005. Since then, MacDougall has spent time
between Nashville and Nova Scotia co-writing with other songwriters
such as Gordie Sampson and Bruce Guthro.
Also participating is Truro’s Rick (Rock) Johnson.
Johnson, a singer, songwriter, and guitarist, has been part of the
East Coast music industry for 18 years, playing original music and
performing in cover bands across the Maritimes. Aside from his own
solo acoustic show, he is the lead vocalist for original rock act
Still In Stereo and cover band Broke On Payday.
Cape Breton’s Carmel Mikol rounds out the songwriter’s circle. Mikol
is fresh off a Canadian tour entitled Guess Who’s Driving with fellow
singer Kim Wempe.
Tickets for Saturday’s show are $30 and can be purchased at the
Marigold’s box office.
The Rankin Family, Scotty
Turner and Billy and Cornelia MacLeod are winners of the East Coast
Music Association's 2010 Honourary Awards.
November 30, 2009 - CBC Arts
The Rankin Family, Scotty Turner and Billy and
Cornelia MacLeod are winners of the East Coast Music Association's
2010 Honourary Awards.
Announced by the association on Monday, the winners have all made
substantial contributions to the East Coast music industry.
The Special Director's Award will go to the Rankin Family in
recognition of the Cape Breton group's contribution to the music
industry on a national and international level. In the 10 years
between 1989 and 1999, the Rankins took home 15 East Coast Music
Awards, six Juno Awards, four Society of Composers, Authors and Music
Publishers of Canada Awards and three Canadian Country Music Awards.
The group took a hiatus in 1999 so members could pursue individual
careers. But, in 2007, Jimmy, Cookie, Raylene and Heather reunited for
a Canadian comeback tour. This year, the Rankin Family released its
new CD, These Are the Moments.
Turner was posthumously awarded the Dr. Helen Creighton Lifetime
Achievement Award for his profound effect on Atlantic Canadian music.
He died on Feb. 9 at the age of 77.
Born, Graham Morrison Turnbull in Sydney, N.S., his career as
musician, songwriter, producer and publisher spanned more than 50
years. Turner was lead guitarist and writer for Tommy Sands and the
Raiders and joined A&M Recorders as writer/producer in 1963. In 1968,
he moved to Nashville to take over the country division of
Liberty/Imperial/United Artists. He composed more than 350 recorded
songs and co-wrote with Buddy Holly, Audie Murphy, Herb Alpert and
Tommy Sands, among others.
Cornelia MacLeod and her late husband, Billy, were honoured with the
Stompin' Tom Award for their sustained contributions to the East Coast
The MacLeods met in high school, and became musical fixtures in Cape
Breton, known for their country and Acadian sound. They spent 20 years
touring, performing in Europe, Africa, South America, Mexico and the
U.S., and released five albums and four 45 recordings. In recent
years, they lived in Fort McMurray, Alta.
Billy MacLeod died on Dec. 27, 2008, at the age of 57, a year after
suffering a massive stroke.
The honourary awards will be presented on March 5, 2010, at the East
Coast Music Awards, Festival & Conference in Sydney, N.S.
Billy and Cornelia MacLeod,
Scotty Turner also to be honoured
December 1, 2009 - Halifax Herald
By Andrea Nemetz, Entertainment Reporter
The Rankin Family will receive the Director’s
Special Achievement Award at the East Coast Music Association Industry
Awards brunch on March 5 at the Membertou Trade and Convention Centre
Other honorary awards recipients are the late Scotty Turner, who will
be honoured posthumously with the Dr. Helen Creighton Lifetime
Achievement Award, and Billy and Cornelia MacLeod, who will receive
the Stompin’ Tom Award.
The Director’s Special Achievement Award is the board of directors’
most prestigious award. It is presented in special circumstances,
intended to recognize an organization, individual or group that has
demonstrated an exceptional contribution to the music industry on a
national and/or international level.
The Rankin Family’s musical history began at home in Mabou, Inverness
County. During a 10-year period from 1989 to 1999, the Rankins were
honoured with 15 East Coast Music Awards, six Juno Awards, four SOCAN
Awards and three Canadian Country Music Awards. Among their albums are
the multi-platinum Fare Thee Well Love and North Country.
After taking a hiatus to pursue individual careers in 1999, tragedy
struck in 2000 when John Morris Rankin was killed in a car accident.
Nearly eight years later Jimmy, Cookie, Raylene and Heather reunited
with a Canadian tour that received glowing reviews in publications
across the county. This year saw the release of These Are The Moments.
The Dr. Helen Creighton Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes an
individual who has had a profound and lasting effect on the Atlantic
Canadian Music Industry. The award was renamed after Creighton when
she received the award in 1991.
Turner, from Sydney, was a record producer, musician, songwriter and
publisher. He was the lead guitarist and writer for Tommy Sands and
the Raiders and joined A&M Records as writer/producer in 1963.
He became executive producer of the country division at
Liberty/Imperial Records and in 1968, was transferred to Nashville to
take over the country division of Liberty/Imperial/United Artists. He
was also an independent producer for Slim Whitman, Del Reeves, and
Jimmy Clanton and won gold records on four of Whitman’s LPs.
Turner composed over 350 recorded songs and co-wrote with Audie
Murphy, Nilsson, Buddy Holly, Herb Alpert, Mac Davis, John Marascalco,
Alex Harvey, Red Lane, Tommy Sands, Diane Lampert, Charlie Williams,
Doc Pomus, Guy Mitchell and Cliffie Stone. He died Feb. 9, 2009.
The Stompin’ Tom Award was conceived in 1993 when Stompin’ Tom Connors
was presented with the Dr. Helen Creighton Lifetime Achievement award.
Instead of accepting the award, he requested that an award be created
to honour musicians who have made long-term contributions to the East
Coast music industry.
Cornelia (Boucher) MacLeod met Billy MacLeod in high school. They
released five albums and four 45 recordings as Cornelia and Billy.
They spent 20 years touring, making stops in Germany, Switzerland,
Austria, France, Ecuador, Africa, Mexico, Japan and the United States.
The two became fixtures in Cape Breton, specifically Richmond County,
and appeared on such televisions programs as the Tommy Hunter Show.
across the GTA
December 6-13, 2009 - Corriere Tandem
By Kerry Doole
Let’s face it. Christmas and the weeks leading up
to it can be a stressful time, so it’s smart to relieve the pressure
by checking out one (or more) of the excellent Christmas-themed
concerts on offer throughout the G.T.A. Many of these have now become
seasonal traditions, proof of their crowd-pleasing nature.
One we can heartily recommend is the fifth annual
Andy Kim Christmas show, at The Mod Club on Dec. 9. Kim is the veteran
pop singer/songwriter best known for such huge international hits as
“Rock Me Gently,” “Baby I Love You,” and “Sugar Sugar.” Yes, he’ll
sing the hits, but you may also get to hear material from his upcoming
new album, Happen Again. At press time, the full guest lineup had yet
to be announced, but you can be sure of an impressive list (members of
Broken Social Scene and Jully Black are set to perform). In past
years, such stars as Barenaked Ladies, Serena Ryder, Larry Gowan,
Rush’s Alex Lifeson, and Ron Sexsmith have performed on the show.
Proceeds will go to a very worthy cause, The Regent Park School of
Music. Check out www.andykimmusic.com for more info.
Another veteran Canadian vocal star with a popular
annual concert is tenor John McDermott. This year, on Dec. 22 and 23,
it’s held in the intimate setting of The Glenn Gould Theatre, and
McDermott has recruited heavyweight musical pals to participate. These
include jazz great Guido Basso, musical comedy troupe The Arrogant
Worms, rocker Gowan, Prairie Oyster singer Russell DeCarle, and Erica
On the roots rock side, you can’t go wrong checking
out The Skydiggers’ Christmas shows at The Horseshoe Tavern, Dec. 18
and 19. Something about the sensual voice of Andy Maize fits the
season like a warm glove. For a raucously rockin’ and highly
entertaining seasonal spectacle, there’s El Vez at Lee’s Palace on
Dec. 8. Yes, the chicano Elvis is a sure-fire crowd-pleaser, and
opening the show are American roots-rockers Los Straitjackets.
If your tastes lean to the Celtic, then a treat
will be The Rankin Sisters (yes, of Rankin Family fame) and their A
Maritime Christmas performance in the superb facility that is The
Richmond Hill Centre For The Arts, on Dec. 5. The three talented
siblings that comprise The Ault Sisters celebrate the season with
their third annual matinee at Hugh’s Room on Dec. 13 (noon-4 p.m.).
Proceeds from the show go to World Vision.
December 9, 2009 - Goderich Signal Star
By Carolyn Parks-Mintz
The audience was abuzz Friday at North Street
United Church in Goderich. They knew that they were in for a wonderful
night of music—Celtic, pop, East Coast, folk, country—whatever was on
the play list was bound to be good.
And they weren't disappointed. The multi-award winning and hugely
talented Rankin Sisters launched their annual Christmas tour in
Goderich Dec. 4.
"A Maritime Christmas" hit all the high notes—literally and
figuratively—as Raylene, Cookie and Heather Rankin filled the lofty
sanctuary with unique and matchless sound.
There's no mistaking a Rankin tune—the incomparable blend of voices
meant to sing together is distinctly Rankin—their signature sound
Hailing from Cape Breton Island and a family of 12, The Rankin's have
consistently produced brilliant material, either individually or as a
group, since their professional beginning in 1989.
The sisters' "Do You Hear …" Christmas album is no different. And the
gals delivered several cuts from it during the concert, much to the
delight of the fans packing the hall.
Backed by an excellent six-piece tour band, The Rankin Sisters pure
and crystalline soprano voices flowed from one piece to
another—interspersed with anecdotes and East Coast humour that
absolutely connected performers to audience.
Starting with Cookie's "I Wonder as I Wander", the music wrapped
listeners in a blanket of beautiful harmony and soaring solos.
Their angelic voices transported the audience to an otherworldly
place, to a place of peace and love—and fun.
Original arrangements of standards such as "Rockin' Around the
Christmas Tree" and "Do You Hear What I Hear" gave fresh energy to
The evening wouldn't have been complete without a taste of Rankin hits
such as Raylene's marvelous "We Rise Again" and Cookie's "Borders and
Regardless of who was singing lead or who was singing backup harmony,
the ethereal wall of sound the group produced was spectacular.
Band members, Wendy MacIsaac and first cousin Maddy Rankin were
outstanding on violins (or "fiddles" as they're called out east) that
alternately wailed and purred.
Just before the intermission, the audience was treated to East Coast
step dancing, first by Maddy and then by The Rankin Sisters
The Celtic flavour throughout the evening was further accentuated by
their flying feet, intricate steps and wonderful rhythms.
The finale of an incredible musical evening was the breathtakingly
beautiful carol "Silent Night." The audience hung on every note of the
trio's exquisite rendition of this traditional Christmas favourite.
Standing ovation, of course.
A Cape Breton version of "Joy to World" performed as only The Rankin's
can, was served up as the encore number, including more of the
sisters' great Celtic dancing, and followed, of course, by another
standing ovation from a wildly enthusiastic crowd.
Asked following the concert how they kept energy levels up during a
long tour, the gifted Rankin Sisters agreed that it's not difficult
for them because they love the Christmas music that's part of their
family tradition and that playing intimate venues is what they
Between now and December 22, "A Maritime Christmas" concert will
launch the festive season in 16 towns and cities in Ontario and the
December 22, 2009 - Fredericton Daily Gleaner
By Laverne Stewart
The Rankin Sisters' voices are a lot like eggnog
with a splash of rum; sweet and smooth with just a bit of a kick that
warms the soul.
The sisters, including Heather, Raylene and Cookie, will appear
tonight at The Playhouse. This is their final stop on their Maritime
Christmas tour. In a phone interview just before a sound check prior
to their concert in St. Catharines, Ont., Heather Rankin says she
looks forward to their return to Fredericton where she knows they have
some dedicated fans.
"We have always enjoyed going there and I love The Playhouse."
In true Celtic style, you can expect lots of fiddling. Band members
Wendy MacIsaac, who is Ashley MacIsaac's first cousin and the Rankin
Sisters' first cousin Mairi Rankin, are on the fiddles. There will be
lots of step-dancing too. After 20 years of singing and step-dancing
on stage, Heather Rankin says this high-energy dancing is still fun to
do and not that taxing.
"I think I am in better shape now than when I was in my 20s."
After 20 days on the road and 16 shows on this tour that started in
Ontario, the sisters and their band members are, understandably, ready
to get off the road after hours of driving each day in a 15-passenger
As soon as tonight's show is over, they'll be making the final push to
spend the holiday with their families. Depending on the weather,
Heather Rankin says she might encourage everyone to drive right
through the last 10 hours on the road because she is anxious to get
back to Cape Breton where she has a lot of work to do. She's married
to a man who is also from Mabou. They will spend their holiday there.
On Christmas Eve she has planned to have 25 people in for a big
Christmas Eve feast. She has some of the cooking already prepared and
in the freezer but the day of the dinner party there will be
vegetables to prepare as well as a delectable pork crown roast. She
will not be left on her own. Her husband, she says, is a great help to
her in the kitchen and indeed all around the house with the cleaning.
"My great-aunt Susie Wright said 'He's better than most women in the
kitchen. He's the bee's knees.'"
While she has lots waiting for her when this tour is finished, tonight
her full attention, and indeed that of her sisters and the band, is
making sure they give their fans a wonderful Christmas memory. Tonight
The Rankin Sisters will sing lots of favourite Christmas music.
"Christmas music has a tendency to bring you back to earlier years
when everyone was around and together and healthy. As we get older and
we face more challenges, we tend to look back and appreciate those
The Rankin Sisters are three of a family of 12 from Mabou, Cape
Breton. Their parents are no longer living and their brother, John
Morris Rankin, died in January 2000 in a car accident. Even though he
is gone, Heather Rankin says her brother's spirit is still very much
with them whenever they are making music and singing the songs that
meant so much to him.
At tonight's show the audience will also hear some of the music The
Rankin Family became famous for with such hits as We Rise Again and
Borders and Time.
The sisters' voices have been described as angelic and sweet. Fans
will enjoy listening to spiritual songs of the season, such as Do You
Hear What I Hear? and their versions of holiday standards like Rockin'
Around the Christmas Tree.
"We try to keep it upbeat. It's quite a lively show. There's lots of
traditional fiddling, Rankin tunes are thrown in there and there's a
smattering of step-dancing and a number of traditional carols done in
The Rankin Sisters love to perform Christmas music. It brings back
happy memories of when they sang carols in church and when the family
was all together celebrating the season, she recalls. Distance
separates many of the Rankins now as some members of the family live
in other parts of the world so it is not easy to all get together, she
The Rankin Sisters have made their Christmas show an annual tradition.
Their beautiful three-part harmonies are the result of singing
together since they were barely old enough to hold sheet music and
sing in their church choir, Heather Rankin recalls.
No Rankin show would be complete without a few laughs. In true Cape
Breton style, these sisters know how to keep the party going with a
few laughs and stories of Christmases past and present.
It was 12 years ago while the Rankin Family was on hiatus that the
sisters decided to create a holiday album. Do You Hear ... Christmas
with Heather, Cookie & Raylene Rankin is still one of the best-selling
Christmas recordings in Canada.
"It sells pretty well during our shows. We tend to cover a number of
the tunes on the record during the show. I think people leave the show
with a good feeling and they want to take a piece of it home so they
want to pick up a copy for a gift or to play for themselves."
When The Rankin Family was formed in 1989, Raylene and John Morris
Rankin managed the group through its first two years and two albums
and did all of the promotional work as well. Now The Rankin Sisters
have others managing and promoting their work so when they sing
together, she says, they are able to concentrate on the music.
They put out an album with brother Jimmy Rankin in 2007 and did a
national tour together at that time too which was a huge success. They
are talking about doing an acoustic tour with him, possibly in 2011.
What do the sisters do when they aren't on tour? Cookie Rankin lives
in Tennessee where she is married to a music engineer and producer.
Raylene Rankin is busy with her family life in Halifax but she still
performs as a solo artist and with her family.
Heather Rankin, who also lives in Halifax, has always had a passion
for performance and theatre. When she isn't performing with her
sisters, she will sometimes audition for live theatre or for movie
The Rankin Sisters are all part-owners of The Red Shoe Pub in Mabou
which is open in spring, summer and fall. Heather Rankin says it's a
place to come and enjoy a beer, some great food and good music. For
the first two years she managed the pub.
"Singing comes a lot more naturally to me. Not to blow my own horn but
I did do a good job and we did survive those two years but it is very
time-consuming. It's in very good hands there now."
If you see The Rankin Sisters' Maritime Christmas show you will come
away filled with Christmas spirit, she says. It is their chance to
spend the season together and it is a chance to celebrate the season
with their fans.