~ Chris Rawlings ~
Chris Rawlings is a honey-baritone singer, nimble-fingered guitar picker and gifted song-writer/composer/arranger whose originality and wit brighten up the folk festival stage.
Here is an encyclopaedic troubadour with a grand national folk repertoire in both English and French covering the past 300 years — an enormous span of Canada’s cultural history. And it’s not only about human events like the Halifax harbour explosion or a strike in Saskatchewan that he sings. His award winning ‘Rocks & Water’ album (1997) is a brilliant musical foray into the natural epochal cycles of earth and water science and man’s ecological impact on groundwater and wetlands. No one before or since Rawlings has taken a creative leap that works so well educationally and musically, with more than a pinch of protest.
Dissent hones a lot of Chris’ lyrics to a fine, cunning edge. Performing every genre from ballads and love songs to rags, country, blues and jazz, he sneaks up on you with devilishly innocent humour followed by a satirical right jab. Rawlings’ wry style is reminiscent of fellow Quebecer Mordecai Richler’s. It’s fun to hear and it’s a hopeful brand of ‘dark’, like that of Jane Jacobs or David Suzuki. The concert experience of Chris Rawlings’ music is totally entertaining for enthusiastic audiences from Morin Heights’ Wild Roots Festival to as far as Louisiana and even Bulgaria.
Chris can sound like John Denver, Leonard Cohen or the Everly Brothers. He charms with an easy voice that has mellowed over nearly four decades since the native Montrealer began performing in the 60’s. For longevity, that puts veteran Rawlings close up there with the likes of the legendary Tom Paxton. Playing his 64 year-old Gibson guitar, Rawlings embraces quick and complex chords and intricate harmonic and rhythmic structures. He adds authenticity to Celtic jigs and reels with a masterful touch on the recorder, and he’s a genuine Quebec clogger to boot.
The newest dimension in Chris’ music stems from his experience operating the Heath Apple Orchard in Quebec’s Eastern Townships, a property in his wife Lynn’s family for 200 years. To his already deep sense of the land he brings more of the poetry of the seasons. Better than ever, Chris’ hands-on musical sensibility engages people at festivals, county fairs or cultural events year round.
Chris Rawlings delivers on the folk community’s appreciation of roots and substance. Both lyrically and melodically, his original compositions stand with the best, as his forthcoming CD — his fifth album — will attest. Through previous associations with Acadian fiddler and folk artist Gilles Losier, Quebec fiddler Jean Carignan, Les Gens de Mon Pays, the National Film Board, the McGarrigle Sisters, Wade Hemsworth, Mariposa and others, Chris links audiences with the long tradition of music about who Canadians were and are. The emotional maturity behind his personal, social and political insight establishes a warm audience rapport, while his lovely voice and virtuosic playing go right to the heart.
Chris Rawlings Discography
Pearl River Turnaround, Cooking Fat Music (1972), first appearance on vinyl by Kate & Anna McGarrigle on background vocals; Soupe de Jour, Cooking Fat Music (1978), first appearance on vinyl by Grammy Award winner Cathy Fink (with Duck Donald) on background vocals; Les Flutes Canadiennes, RCI 507 (1980); Rocks and Water, Cooking Fat Music, produced by Manteca’s Henry Heillig (1997)