Prime Minister Stephen Harper just doesn’t seem like a Rawlins Cross fan, somehow. He’s hard to picture rocking out to “Reel and Roll” or singing along with “Colleen.”
He is a fan, though — so much so that he took it upon himself to learn how to play one of the band’s songs.
The song is called “Grandmother’s Song,” and Harper heard it when Rawlins Cross performed it during Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Halifax last June.
“Of course the Governor General was there and Stephen Harper was there, and all the usual dignitaries,” bandmember Dave Panting said of the royal performance. “We got up and performed, and shortly after that we received a request from Stephen Harper’s office for the sheet music for ‘Grandmother’s Song.’
“I have to admit, my politics probably don’t line up with Mr. Harper’s, however, he’s a fellow musician. I’d rather have him in the band!”
“Grandmother’s Song” was written by Dave and inspired by his own grandmother, whom he credits for giving him his first taste of music when he was a boy of three or four.
“One of the first musical sounds I ever heard was my grandmother in the kitchen singing Scottish things, mostly, and it really stuck with me,” Dave explained.
Dave and the rest of Rawlins Cross — his brother Geoff Panting, Ian McKinnon, Brian Bourne, Howie Southwood and Joey Kitson — are just finishing up an Atlantic Canada tour, and will end it with a show at the Rock House in St. John’s Saturday night.
After a seven-year hiatus, Rawlins Cross reunited to release “Anthology,” a compilation of some of its best-known songs, in 2008. Since then, the band travelled the country, performing at festivals and at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
In November, the band released “Heart, Head, Hands,” its first full-length studio album in 12 years, containing a dozen songs written by the Pantings and Bourne and four Celtic instrumental tunes.
Dave’s favourite is a song called “Kingdom Come.”
“That one started out as a blue song about mortality and how you’re trying to get home and wondering about life after death,” he explained. “It sounds grim, but it isn’t, really. We’re all going towards this place and we don’t really know where we’re going, but everyone ends up there.
“The song sort of turned into a reggae rhythm. We put our touch on it, and our music is a combination of a lot of things, so it ends up sounding like us. It’s working really well live, too.”
Once the tour comes to a close, Rawlins Cross will turn its attention to festivals across North America over the spring and summer, including (hopefully), the St. John’s Folk Festival, to which they’ve applied. While it’s too soon to talk about another CD, Dave said, he’s sure there’ll be more songwriting happening in the near future.
Tickets for Saturday’s Rawlins Cross show at the Rock House are $20 including tax, and are available at Fred’s Records and The Ship (cash only), as well as on the band’s website, www.rawlinscross.com.