MUSIC: Life in Nashville isn’t forever for Jimmy Rankin, who goes acoustic for show in Surrey

The Rankin Family's chief songwriter does concert on Friday, Jan. 27 at Surrey Arts Centre

Jimmy Rankin performs at Surrey Arts Centre on Friday

Jimmy Rankin performs at Surrey Arts Centre on Friday

SURREY — Jimmy Rankin is a Nova Scotian at heart, and he really does miss the ocean – just two reasons why he doesn’t intend to live in Nashville forever.

The music mecca in Tennessee has been his home for close to seven years.

“I’ve coming here since the mid-1990s to make records, including several with the Rankins and also solo records,” the singer-songwriter told the Now on the phone from Nashville. “It’s a fantastic place, because you bump into musicians and writers everywhere, and it’s an easy place to meet people.

“I just wanted to be in that environment, but I don’t intend to stay here forever, I just wanted to experience it,” Rankin continued. “I’m a Canadian first, especially now with the current situation with politics here. I won’t mention names, but it’s a fascist regime so maybe it’s time to leave.”

In Surrey on Friday, Jan. 27, Rankin will launch a four-show acoustic tour of B.C. that includes concert dates in Nanaimo, Salt Spring Island and Sidney.

Rankin’s performance at Surrey Arts Centre’s Mainstage will include the guitar-playing talents of Jamie Robinson, a longtime collaborator of his, and opening band Mainstreet Muze, a new roots/blues/rock trio featuring Babe Gurr, Steve Hilliam and Adam Popwitz.

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“For two guys we make a lot of noise,” Rankin said of his work with Robinson. “The songs are mostly from my solo albums and then I’ll always include Rankin Family songs I wrote back in those days.”

Back in the early 1990s, the Rankins scored a massive hit with Jimmy’s song “Fare Thee Well Love,” named Single of the Year at the Juno Awards in 1994.

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“I have sung that song as a solo artist and with choirs and orchestras, and ironically it’s not usually a song I include in sets because it was a duet – it was written for one person but then it turned out to be recorded as a duet,” Rankin recalled. “But I got this email asking about it and that got me thinking I might dust it off and take it out again. It’s a song I just don’t sing that often, but it’s the biggest song I’ve ever written – most popular song, anyway.

“It’s sort of taken on a life of its own out there, sort of like true folk music, and I probably should sing it more often,” he added. “It’s funny, a lot of people think because it’s such a Celtic-sounding song that it’s a traditional song, and people are surprised to hear that it was actually written by somebody who’s still living.”

Much more recently, in 2014, Rankin released “Back Road Paradise,” an album blessed with some country-pop goodness.

The video for the single “Whiskey When the Sun Goes Down” was filmed by Stephano Barberis, the award-winning director who lives in Cloverdale.

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“We shot that in a small warehouse space off Clark Drive (in Vancouver),” Barberis told the Now. “He’s utterly hilarious. Jimmy has a very sharp sense of humour – not for the sensitive! He’s so East Coast. Fantastic guy. Love him. A bit of a living legend, and so talented.”

Looking ahead, Rankin is planning to release a new record in 2018, maybe sooner.

“That’s my plan, and I don’t want to jinx it at this point, but I’m thinking it’ll be very much a different record that what I’ve been making – a 360 or 180 or whatever, so probably a more roots-y record,” Rankin revealed. “That’s what’s in my mind right now, but sometimes things don’t work out that way. I’m just putting together the songs now, so we’ll see. It’ll depend on who I work with and how it all turns out.”

Tickets start at $35 for “An Acoustic Evening with Jimmy Rankin” at Surrey Arts Centre. For details, call 604-501-5566 or visit Tickets.Surrey.ca.

tom.zillich@thenownewspaper.com