Last Articles - 2010 (January-June) update on June 22, 2010

01/23/10 - Deric Ruttan talks about Jimmy Rankin

02/02/10 - Up North With The Rankin Family Band

02/10/10 - Rankins, MacIsaac added to ECMA gala

02/24/10 - Singers form triumphant trio

02/24/10 - Rankin, Church and Crowe play two local shows

03/20/10 - Jimmy Rankin to share songs

Canadian country's rising star: Self-managed Deric Ruttan in U.S., Canuck hit parades. Concert Preview

January 23, 2010 -

By CanWest News Service

Deric Ruttan is one of the more successful Canadian country artists of our time, and definitely fits the description of a rising star.

The Ontario-raised singer-songwriter has enjoyed Top 10 successes on radio, with songs like Good Time and First Time In A Long Time, had a number of Canadian Country Music Award nominations in a variety of categories, and has been rewarded for significant songwriting collaborations with American star Dierks Bentley, with the No. 1 Billboard hit What Was I Thinkin' heading a lengthy list.

As the years go by, Ruttan continues to till the country-music soil. Today, his current single Sing That Song Again is charting well across the country, while another tune he wrote titled Hell On The Heart is blazing a trail up the charts in the U.S., aided by the performance and voice of Eric Church.

With his impressive and growing resume, one would think that Ruttan's career was being guided by a major management team, and that he'd be able to focus strictly on the creative side.

"Not so, I am self-managed and have to make a lot of decisions every week. It's not that I don't want management – you have to find the right person who understands your goals," says the singer, who has just kicked off a Canada- wide tour that lands in the Edmonton area this weekend.

To his credit, Ruttan took care of all the logistics for his latest sessions that delivered his new album, Sunshine. He also books rehearsal time with his band, takes care of the travel arrangements, makes sure the right calls are being made on publishing deals and then finds time to tour.

While best known early on in his career as a gifted writer, Ruttan has the convincing vocal chops necessary to win over an audience. By the time his First Time In A Long Time disc was released, he was turning a big corner toward becoming a performing artist.

"Live performance is a totally different game than writing songs. Plus, with touring, you have to learn how to stay healthy. It's like you are living in a 40-foot germ tube called a tour bus," laughs Ruttan, who grew up loving the sounds of John Fogerty.

With material from three albums to construct his set lists, Ruttan will be focusing on tunes like Sing That Song Again, We're Alright and Up All Night, from the new release.

The latter tune is another gem he wrote with Jimmy Rankin of the Rankin Family. Ruttan loves the fact that, when the two get together, "things can take shape quickly."

Just as 2009 was coming to a close, Ruttan and Rankin were among a number of artists honoured at Toronto's Roy Thomson Hall, by the SOCAN organization, for their songwriting successes.

"Jimmy and I also wrote the title track, First Time In A Long Time, for my last album. It got a tremendous amount of video play, along with the radio airplay. So there I was, sitting behind Gordon Lightfoot and Tom Cochrane at the SOCAN awards. It was a big thrill."

Keeping good company has served all parties well, but Ruttan always gives the final nod of appreciation to his wife, Margaret Findley, when it comes to singling out the rock in his close-knit circle.

"She's a songwriter as well, and she was a single mother of five kids when I married her. The kids can still remember when neither of us had anything going on. But she's the eternal optimist."

Playing intimate theatres on this 22-date run that takes him out to the Maritimes, Ruttan will be able to perform a few of his songs in an acoustic setting, before rocking his way out of the night.

Up North With The Rankin Family Band

February 2, 2010 - The

By Ken Morton

Far north in the Canadian Maritimes–not quite to where the roads run out–lies the small community of Mabou, on Cape Breton Island. In this tiny town, music is the tie that binds people, the local sound boasting a heavy Celtic influence brought over from sea-faring imports of generations past.

Mabou’s Community Hall is the heart of all things musical here, so it’s fitting that adjacent to that hall sits a home that houses the town’s most musical family, the Rankins. Each of Kathleen and Buddy Rankin’s twelve children (yes, twelve) were encouraged–and expected–to be involved in a musical community that included performing at church and on the local fair circuit. Sets of siblings formed singing groups over the years, but it was a particular set of five of that would find the perfect formula to catapult them from Mabou to Canada’s biggest stages.

In 1989, John Morris, Raylene, Heather, Cookie and Jimmy Rankin would release their first self-titled indie album. Five more albums followed over the next decade, including Fare Thee Well Love (1992), North Country (1993), Grey Dusk of Eve (1995), Endless Seasons (1995), and Uprooted (1998). Critically acclaimed and wildly embraced by several genres of Canadian music, the Rankin Family would be honored with 15 East Coast Music Awards, six Juno Awards, four SOCAN Awards and three Canadian Country Music Awards.

But in 1999–after ten years together–the Rankins went on an indefinite hiatus. Tragedy followed when, in 2000, John Morris died in an auto accident on an icy coastal road. While Jimmy and Raylene recorded individual projects, no Rankin Family recording or touring took place until 2007’s aptly named Reunion. In Winnipeg, the sold-out audience gave the remaining four members (who toured with John Morris’ daughter, Molly Rankin), a standing ovation before the concert even started. Reunion would bring the group their 16th East Coast Music Award for Best Roots/Traditional Group Recording of the Year.

In 2009, The Rankins returned to the studio and recorded another new album, These Are The Moments. Reflective of the group’s unwavering faith and optimism during these uncertain modern times, it is filled with that unique Celtic-influenced harmony-drenched sound that filled that Community Hall so many years ago.

The 9513 had an opportunity to talk with Jimmy and Heather Rankin about their Celtic influences, the ladies’ Red Shoe Pub, Jimmy’s upcoming Olympic performance and their latest album.

KEN MORTON, JR.: The Rankins have won several Canadian Country Music Awards, and even more Roots music awards, but have many more influences on your music. For someone who perhaps hasn’t heard a Rankins album, how would you describe it?

JIMMY RANKIN: That’s a hard one. Over the years, I’ve been asked to describe it and categorize it. Maybe contemporary folk? There are just so many different styles in there. There’s Celtic, and traditional and singer/songwriter. There’s original country and a little bit of pop and folk. I really don’t know how to classify it. And that, of course, is one of the challenging things we ran into over the years.

HEATHER RANKIN: It’s just Rankin music. It is hard to describe. There is no category that it falls into. It has influences from country music, folk, traditional and it’s one of the problems that we had when we first started playing in the community in which we were raised. I remember when we were selling CDs, when we were playing community shows out of the back of our cars. And after a while, we were selling so many records, it finally got the attention of the record people in Toronto. When we signed with EMI Canada, it was difficult for them to put us in a category, so people just started calling it Canadian Country. It’s something that’s most appealing to our music, it doesn’t just fall into one category. So to answer your question, or not answer it…I don’t know to answer that question.

KMJ: I know the group started with more of a Celtic influence in your music, and have evolved to a more mainstream sound over the years–or at least that’s my impression. Has that been a conscious decision or something that happened just based on your travel and expansion as artists?

JR: We played as a band from the time we were kids, you know? We would play around the county in Cape Breton where we’re from. We were a dance band and we played in the old dance halls there. That’s really where we cut our teeth in the music business. This was back in the 70s and early 80s. My brother played professionally with some fiddle music there. And that’s very much part of the culture there in Cape Breton. We sang other songs which were very traditional as well. And it was a dance, so we played old rock and roll and country music. We played anything to make people dance. We always had a big cross section of music. When we started making recordings in the late 1980s, we wanted to bring to a recording what we did in our band in those early days–which was a cross-styling of different styles of music.

Over the years, the Rankins records varied more from the traditional sound, but we’ve always tried to do different styles of music in our recording. Maybe we have evolved like that, but we’ve always had a strong traditional element to our group. I think it’s always rung through all of our writing.

HR: I don’t think it was a conscious thing. It’s interesting that you hear it that way. Perhaps it comes from working with different producers and different players. When we originally started, eighty-percent of our selections were traditional–probably because we were steeped in that from a very young age. We were throwing in material that we were doing for the first 20 years of our lives. As the years went on, we would do our songwriting–particularly Jimmy–and it’s kind of turned around to eighty-percent original. Maybe that’s where that change has come from. I don’t think it was a conscious thing. It just happens after people started writing.

KMJ: The group trades lead vocals pretty seamlessly. That’s rare these days. How do you go about choosing who sings what?

JR: There’s really four lead vocalists in the Rankin Family band. There are my three sisters, of course, and myself. When we go out on tour–and the last three or four years, we’ve been doing these cross-country tours–we try to feature everybody in the set list. But there are favorites that fans want to hear that are staples of the set list. When we were making a recording, we try to feature everybody at least twice on the record and have a group song that gets everybody involved. That’s always been just a trademark of the Rankins. That’s really just it.

HR: Anytime we’ve gotten together to do a record, we’ve each brought in a handful of tunes. It was somewhat democratic that we’ve tried to select each person’s best tune out of everything else that went on the record. As time has gone on, it’s been more about picking the strongest song–perhaps the group tune–rather than being more even. It’s always been pretty democratic, though.

KMJ: You released a new album in 2009 called These Are The Moments. Besides the obvious fact that it’s a song on the album, why did you pick that as an album title?

JR: It was really just a lyric from a song that I had written. I think we were trying to make a CD that was, at the time, songs full of inspiration, songs that were in the moment and full of hope. That’s one of the lyrics that our producer Frank Davies thought would be an excellent title. Each of us thought, “Sure, that sounds like a really good title.”

HR: I think at the time, the world has been going through a financial downturn. There are Canadian men and women soldiers overseas dying every day. There are a lot of sad things happening in the world and we felt that we should try to look at things in a positive light and see how truly fortunate we are. We need to recognize that we need to take advantage of the good life that we lead and recognize how fortunate we are. We need to live each moment.

KMJ: American fans will recognize two of the album’s songwriters, Jim Brickman and Sarah Buxton. What made you choose the two songs written by those two artists?

JR: The label we were working with in Canada wanted to do a record with a contemporary sound. Frank Davies enlisted a guy that knows a lot of these songwriters. They brought these songs to the table and it really just happened to be that they’re really good songs. That recording session was a combination of Rankin songs and some of those really good writers. Victoria Shaw is one of the writers as well.

KMJ: I know you guys reworked a couple of your old classics for the album as well.

JR: They wanted to re-release a couple of songs like “Rise Again” and “Fare Thee Well” and “Feel The Same Way.” They wanted to remix these great old songs and bring them up to date sonically. You have to remember they were recorded back in 1989 or 1990. We revisited them and remixed them and I think brought the vocals to the front more. They shine just a bit more.

HR: We felt that those songs were very fitting with the message of the newer tunes. We were hoping to expose our music a little more to the American market. People in the production market hoped to showcase us to America a little more than we have in the past. It seemed very fitting to include a couple of our old inspirational songs and fit them in with these new songs of inspiration.

KMJ: Jimmy, how do you see your solo work different from your work with the Rankin Family?

JR: Essentially, my solo career was just to keep me occupied the last ten years. I took what we did with the Rankin Family, which was singing and playing guitar and songwriting, and applied it to my solo records. That’s pretty much it. I’m a songwriter. Most all of the songs on the records have been an extension of my songwriting, or sometimes songwriting with other people.

KMJ: Heather, while Jimmy and Raylene have done some solo work, you and Cookie have chosen not to. Any reasoning behind that?

HR: I never saw myself as a solo singer. I always felt that I was a cog in the Rankin wheel. It was never anything I was interested in. My interests have really been in acting. It’s something I studied in University. I got a degree in theater. I’ve pursued that on my own. And then I went into a show with my sisters Cookie and Raylene and we did a Christmas record. And each Christmas season, we do a show in and around that. We also bought a pub up in Mabou, Cape Breton, where we were born and raised.

KMJ: That’s called the Red Shoe Pub, I understand.

HR: That’s right. We feature local traditional music there seven days a week at some point in the day. It’s not all day long–usually it’s at supper time. Those things have drawn my energies. As far as a solo career, it’s not anything I ever aspired to.

KMJ: Does Jimmy have some elaborate concert contract and rider each time he performs in your pub?

HR: (Laughing) No, he’s been very good to come and play a tune or two. Cookie, Raylene, and I have done the same. We’ve actually never all played there together at the same time. None of us actually live up there now. We do all tend to go back there and spend time there. It’s a seasonal operation.

KMJ: Was that always a dream to own a pub?

HR: It was something crazy that we did. If you ever drive up the west coast of Cape Breton from the highway, it’s very beautiful. And you’ll meet some of the finest people in the world there and hear some of the best music in the world. But it is very rural and there isn’t a lot to do there except for the summer when there’s square dances and community events. You hear traditional music. A person had taken an old general store in our community and converted it into a pub. He had it for about five years and it gained a reputation for a place to go to hear traditional music. Unfortunately, he wasn’t successful in keeping it open for business and it closed. It was closed for two years. Every time we would go back there, we’d see tourists looking through the windows or front door. The three of us along with another sister couldn’t stand to see this vibrant little place of music not survive. So we did a crazy thing and got together and bought it. And for the first seasons, I managed it. And that was an even crazier thing to do. Fortunately, we succeeded. And now we have very capable people to run it and it goes very smoothly. Tons of people come from all over.

KMJ: Jimmy, you’re going out to sing in the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, I understand.

JR: Yeah, I’m going out there to do a couple shows there. That’s correct. You’ve done your homework.

KMJ: That’s got to be pretty exciting to be there on a world stage in your homeland.

JR: I’m looking forward to it. It should be a lot of fun. I’m known as a singer/songwriter so those shows will just be me and a guitar player going through some Rankins stuff and some of my stuff–just my normal set list. It will be good.

KMJ: Looking back a bit, you guys decided to hang things up in 1999 together as a band. Why the break and why the reunion again nearly a decade later?

JR: When we set out to make recordings back in 1989, we started out grassroots without a manager or a record label or any knowledge of the music business. Growing up playing music locally, our goal wasn’t necessarily to get a record deal and tour and see the world. And I think we were thinking five years. As it turned out, it took off and kept us very busy for ten years recording and television specials and everything that goes with it. In those ten years, we went through everything you go through in the music business. Managers. Record labels. We learned all that. I think everyone thought it was just time. We saw major changes in the business at that time. We just decided it was time to hang up the gloves indefinitely.

Tragically, later that year, my brother John Morris was killed in a car accident. I think at that time everybody thought that was the finale for the Rankins. But in 2007, a promoter we worked with out west during our earlier career asked if we’d do a reunion tour. He thought there was a demand for us out there. People wanted to hear us and hear those old songs. It was just too good not to be heard. I got everybody back together and we gradually got it back together. It was without my brother, of course. But we found some people to do his job. We started on the west coast of Canada and headed east and amazingly played to sold-out houses everywhere we went. And that went so well, we did it again. People wanted to hear it. And we shot some television specials while we were out there. And it’s something we revisit every other year and do some dates. It’s really fun. And it just so happens that we’ve been placing some CDs as well.

KMJ: What’s next for the Rankins in 2010 and beyond?

JR: There’s talk of going out and doing an acoustic tour where it’s just myself and another musician and my sisters–just doing that acoustic folk with a focus on the vocals. We’d like to do that in smaller halls. That’s what we’re talking about in 2010. We’re just getting that started.

KMJ: And how about for Heather Rankin?

HR: After 1999, when we quit, we really felt like we were on a treadmill. We had started to lose sight of what we were doing this for. People really want to hear this music. It seems like now we’re taking this bi-annually. Hopefully the acoustic show with evolve and happen this summer, and every holiday I do the Christmas show with my sisters. Once in awhile, I’ll do some auditions for film or the odd musical. And there’s the pub that keeps us busy with hiring staff and doing that stuff year to year. I’m happy with the pace I’m living right now. Who knows what the future holds? For now, I’m content with touring with the family every other year or so.

KMJ: I’ve got one last question for you. What is country music to the Rankin Family?

HR: I think some people think country music is what you hear on the radio. Like Carrie Underwood. She’s a beautiful singer, sings fantastic songs, and a beautiful looking person. To some people, that is country music. But isn’t country music singing personal things about the place you come from and the people you know, the life you lead, the history of your place? That, to me, is country music. Hank Williams didn’t always sing about love. He sang about a lot of things in life- good and bad. That is country music to me.

Rankins, MacIsaac added to ECMA gala

February 10, 2010 - Halifax Herald

SYDNEY (CP) — Well-known Cape Breton artists will figure prominently into this year’s version of the East Coast Music Awards.

The Rankin Family and fiddling sensation Ashley MacIsaac will perform in the gala show at Centre 200 in Sydney on March 7.

The evening will honour the Island’s rich musical past with a performance by Grammy-winning artist Gordie Sampson.

Mary Jane Lamond will also be on hand to lend her storytelling talents to the show’s narrative.

The Rankin Family will receive the Director’s Special Achievement Award.

Singers form triumphant trio

February 24, 2010 - Okotoks Western Wheel

By Tamara Neely

A trio of seasoned singer-songwriters has joined forces and will take the stage together in a special concert in Bragg Creek.

Raylene Rankin, Cindy Church and Susan Crowe will bring more than 25 years of experience to the stage at the Bragg Creek Centre as they share their musical experiences through folk, country and jazz.

Crowe, who has released five solo albums and was named English Songwriter of the Year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards for her album Greytown, said her ability to translate an emotion into song, and have the audience share in that emotion, has come from a long career writing music.

“As an artist, I don’t try to do that,” said Crowe. “The minute you try, you undermine yourself as an artist. But I hope that people will be drawn into my songs.

“It’s not a conscious thing. It’s a subconscious thing. From the time I was very young, writing was a way of being in the world. It was my way of expressing what I felt. We all get better as we get older, as long as we keep our eye on the work and never lose the appetite for connecting with the human experience and reflecting it.”

The trio’s website, , has samples of two songs including “Where the Redwood Grows” and “Fell Back Up”, which were written by Crowe and featured on Rankin, Church and Crowe’s debut album. Crowe and Church write most of the songs for the trio with Rankin enriching the vocal harmony.

The songs display such mastery of melody and lyrics that within seconds of the song’s beginning, the music reaches inside the body to where the emotions hide.

“Everyone has a different relationship with a song and it becomes yours, in a way,” said Crowe. “If you have an emotional experience, you are creating it and I am only facilitating it.”

The song “Where the Redwood Grows” is about missing the west coast, while being back in the east coast. Crowe’s lyrics invoke a visual picture of the trees, birds, flowers that are ubiquitous on the west coast and absent in the east.

“The redwood trees, the white roses, the bluebirds, they all represent something,” said Crowe. “They are underscored with meaning. When I play that song, still, I feel a bittersweet, melancholy. Yet, it has this under layer of beauty.”

The harmony achieved by three women’s voices is also a thing of beauty.

Rankin and Church both have a long history of refining their talent before audiences and in the studio.

Rankin has been singing since she was four years old. Now almost 50, Rankin has decades of experience connecting with audiences alongside her siblings performing around the world as The Rankin Family.

The Rankin Family is world renowned for their east coast sound and has been honoured with 15 East Coast Music Awards [2], six Juno Awards [3] and three Canadian Country Music Awards [4].

Since 2003, Rankin has embarked on her own solo career, then teaming up with Crowe and Cindy Church in 2007.

“The show (at Bragg Creek Centre) is a collection of songs we all bring to the table,” said Rankin. “Some with our past careers, as solo performers and some is stuff we’ve written together.

“You won’t see a Rankin Family experience. It’s a different texture, harmony, a totally different vibe.”

In 2007, with a live concert at Alderney Landing in Nova Scotia, the trio found they had some musical chemistry. Their musical backgrounds are a big part of who each woman is, but together they have a fresh dynamic.

Church brings a country and folk edge to the group. Years ago she toured and recorded with Ian Tyson and later in the group Quartette with Sylvia Tyson.

She has also released three solo albums and is currently a member of the popular Lunch at Allen’s, which is a collaborative venture with Murray McLaughlin, Ian Thomas and Marc Jordan.

Rankin, Church and Crowe perform at the Bragg Creek Centre on Saturday, Feb. 27. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the performance begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are $33 for adults, $25 for seniors and $15 for youth. For tickets or more information call 403-949-4114.

The Bragg Creek Centre is located at 23 White Avenue.

Rankin, Church and Crowe play two local shows

February 24, 2010 - Cochrane Eagle

By Lindsay Wilson

Raylene Rankin, Cindy Church and Susan Crowe are three of Canada’s most highly respected singer-songwriters in the music business today.

C0ming from varied musical backgrounds, but all tied to their East Coast roots, these three friends have formed a strong musical alliance.

And they are making their way to Beaupre Hall Feb. 26 and the Bragg Creek Centre for Performing Arts Feb. 27.
After doing a number of shows over the last couple of years they have decided to take to the open road for a series of shows in Western Canada.

“It’s one of those situations where you think you’re doing one show, and then there’s chemistry, and it takes a life of its own,” said Cindy Church of her collaborative project with Rankin and Crowe.

Each member has built impressive resumes over the course of their music careers.

Raylene Rankin, perhaps best known for her role in the Rankin Family and the Rankin Sisters, has also had comparable success in her solo career. Her debut solo album in 2003, Lambs In Spring, earned her an East Coast Music Award nomination.

An experienced singer, Rankin has spent a lifetime developing her songwriting abilities highlighted by her unmistakable Celtic groove and signature crystal-clear voice.

She continues to perform with her family members, as well as the RCC project.
Cindy Church has cut out a definitive place in the Canadian music scene over the last few decades, both as a writer and as a vocalist.

There is a warmth in Church’s versatile vocals, making it easy to listen to this country-rooted singer.

Church’s most recognized projects include Quartette (a project with Sylvia Tyson, Caitlin Hanford, the late Colleen Peterson and later on with Gwen Swick), Lunch at Allen’s (a collaboration with Murray McLauchlin, Ian Thomas and Marc Jordan) and The Nearness of You — a tribute to the music of Hoagy Carmichael (with pianist/composer Joe Sealy and bassist George Koller).

Church has been nominated for two Junos and by the Country Music Association.
Susan Crowe is best known for her finely crafted songwriting, demonstrated in her four CDs. She has been nominated for two Junos, East Coast and West Coast Music Awards, received the Music Nova Scotia’s Female Artist of the Year Award and a Woman of Excellence Award.

Her performances at festivals and shows across the country have secured her position in the music business.

She is known as a “writer’s writer.”

“It may mean that I’m respected more for my writing than for other aspects of our way of making a living. I’m definitely a bit of a lyric geek, and I think that shows in my work,” said Crowe.

For the collective that is Rankin, Church and Crowe, songwriting is the primary focus brought to life by three women in the form of stripped-down acoustic folk-based performances.

“I love the songs. It’s really about the songs and the singing and the sparseness of it — just three girls and a guitar player,” explains Church.

The girls have yet to record together, and while there doesn’t seem to be immediate plans to do so, these three women seem to be having way too much fun playing together to cease the project anytime soon.

“It’s easier to do this now than when we were in our 30s when we took everything so seriously,” explains Church, referring to the constant humour that exists between the trio both on and off stage.

At this point in their careers, there is a level of maturity that has replaced the anxiety generally experienced by younger performers who are trying to establish themselves in the highly competitive and constantly evolving world known as the music industry.

“By far, it’s one of the warmest, congenial groups in which I’ve worked. These women are treasured friends and it’s my great fortune to work with them,” emphasizes Crowe.

Tickets can be purchased for the Feb. 26 Beaupre Hall show at Java Jamboree for $40. For more information call Erin or Darcy at 403-932-3449.

For the Feb. 27 Bragg Creek show tickets can be bought by phone at 403-949-4114 or online at

Jimmy Rankin to share songs

March 20, 2010 - Sherwood Park News

Jimmy Rankin is packing up and moving out of town.

As if packing up his life and hauling boxes around isn't enough work, he's also playing at Festival Place on Friday at 7:30 p.m.

"It's a huge, huge endeavour," he said. "I've been in this house for 15 years."

For 10 years, Rankin was a member of The Rankin Family and has been going solo for the same length of time.

The awards started flowing in almost as soon as his career began.

Rankin has won four SOCAN-sponsored ECMA and Juno songwriter of the year awards.

"It's always a nice shot in the arm for what you do," Rankin said. "Over the years I have almost a whole room full of them. It's all in boxes, actually, now."

For the show, it will be just Rankin and a guitar player.

"It's more of a singer/songwriter show," he said. "It's not a sleeper show by any means."

Looking back, he appreciates his past more. A couple of weeks ago, he and his sisters received an award at the East Coast Music Association's awards for musical contribution to the industry.

He said people still call out requests and he plays off the cuff.

Packing for the show is nowhere near as intensive as moving.

"I travel pretty light now; I'll just bring a couple of acoustic Gibson guitars," he said.

Growing up in Cape Breton influenced Rankin's music.

"If I go way, way back to when I was growing up, there was this strong storytelling tradition there," he said. "People just naturally told stories about the events of the day. I'm inspired by that; that's reflected in my songwriting."

He said the isolation forces thinking inward.

Being surrounded by music all his life, he always had a piano in the house, played drums at the age of 11, and picked up the guitar in his early teens with a growing interest in music.

"It wasn't until my late teens and early 20s that something really happened," he said. "I sort of had an epiphany — something changed, something clicked and I really started writing songs."

His latest album, Edge of Day, was released in 2007 and produced by Colin Linden.

"It's very rootsy-rock, singer-songwriter, alt-country," he said. "The way it was recorded was very organic and very live off the floor with the band."

The video for "Slipping Away" was shot near the oil refineries in the Edmonton-area.

Rankin said the song has an apocalyptic feel and the director came up with the setting.

"It was as cold as hell shooting that video," he said. "We lost a lot of footage for technical reasons. I think the song calls to that kind of apocalyptic treatment."

Rankin recently played at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, but he is no stranger to that scene. He also played at the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics in Norway.

"It's just nice to be around those events," he said. "There are people there from all over the world. The place is just buzzing with energy."

Table seats are $36, box seats are $34 and theatre seats are $32.

Tickets are available at the Festival Place box office, by calling 780-449-3378, by visiting, or through Ticketmaster.

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