In an illustrious career that has spanned nearly 30 years, there’s one thing Jimmy Rankin hasn’t done in his journeys across Canada – he has never visited Kingsville. But that will change when the Cape Breton music icon hits the stage at the Kingsville Folk Music Festival on Saturday, August 12.

“One of the great things about the job I have is that I get to see places that I haven’t been and that I might not normally get to see,” says Jimmy. “I know I’ve been to Windsor and some other places around the area, but this time it’s a show for Kingsville and the people coming to Kingsville’s Folk Music Festival.”

Armed with an array of hit songs spanning an acclaimed solo career and an award-winning run as a member of the sibling group The Rankin Family, Jimmy has found a good balance between life and work with homes in both Ontario and Cape Breton and a touring and recording schedule that allows him to maintain a family life where he can conduct a phone interview while still watching his kids golfing.

“Right now I’m sitting here watching my kids drive golf balls into the abyss,” Jimmy chuckles.

He’s been playing since his early teens, when he joined his siblings in the internationally-acclaimed Rankin Family, from Mabou, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. His first major composition, Fare Thee Well Love, was the hit title track of the group’s smash album from 1992, a quintuple platinum album that in 2013 was voted the top East coast song of all time by CBC listeners.

More hits followed through the 90’s, including North Country, You Feel The Same Way Too, and Movin’ On, all from Jimmy’s pen. The Rankins became international stars and ambassadors for Cape Breton’s Celtic sound, performing all over the world, teaming up for recording sessions with The Chieftains, and winning six Juno Awards.

By the end of the decade, the brothers and sisters decided it was time to concentrate on solo careers. 2001’s Song Dog saw Jimmy’s single Follow Her Around become a huge hit, winning the SOCAN Award for Single of the Year, while tearing up the charts. The hits have kept coming through the years, with Midnight Angel, Morningbound Train, Butterfly, Slipping Away and Here In My Heart all becoming radio favourites.

His latest album Back Road Paradise produced the hip country hit Cool Car. So, with that in mind, the ultimate question had to be asked: “For a man who sings a song called Cool Car and stars in a stylish music video for that song, what kind of car do you drive?

“I actually have a very nice car right now to tell you the truth,” Rankin laughs. “It’s a pretty slick Mercedes, but I’ve driven quite a few beaters in my time. The song is more about the idea of a car making someone feel cool rather than the actual car itself. I love the music video we shot for it. It looks like a fancy car commercial as I’m driving a really luxurious sports car along the California coast. It’s a stunning video really and was so fun to shoot – I felt like a cool guy in a cool car.”

Jimmy will be bringing Cool Car and all the other hits, including a couple Rankin Family favourites to the Kingsville Folk Music festival stage for an hour-long set on Saturday night with co-headliners The Cowboy Junkies performing after.

The festival takes place at Lakeside Park (315 Queen Street, Kingsville) from Friday, August 11-13. Tickets and more information can be found at kingsvillefolkfest.org.

Watch out for a more in-depth discussion with Jimmy in our new Interviews section next week.

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