Rawlins Cross, one of Canada’s most accomplished and beloved Celtic bands, was formed in St. John’s in the late 1980s by songwriting brothers Dave Panting (guitar and mandolin) and Geoff Panting (keyboards and accordion) and Ian McKinnon (highland pipes and tin whistle). Since then, Rawlins Cross has been at the vanguard of the fusion of Celtic traditional music with the rhythms of rock, pop and worldbeat music. Equally at ease with a soulful Highland Air (MacPherson’s Lament) or a raucous party song (Colleen, Reel ‘n’ Roll, Rock Steady), Rawlins Cross never fails to electrify its faithful fans. Over its nearly 30 year run, Rawlins Cross has always been a “fan favourite” on the North American and European concert and festival circuits.
The band burst onto the East Coast recording scene in late ’89 with its first indie recording, A Turn of the Wheel and a video for the single Colleen. Just weeks after its release, Colleen scored a top ten radio slot on Toronto’s influential CFNY station and Rawlins Cross was on its way.
In 1992, the band released Crossing The Border, which further developed the ground-breaking fusion of highland bagpipes, mandolin and accordion with a rocking rhythm section. A year later the band recorded Reel ‘n’ Roll, which would prove to be its best-selling commercial success and launch a national radio hit with the title track. With the solid rhythm section of Halifax bassist Brian Bourne and Ontario-based drummer Howie Southwood, Rawlins Cross enlisted PEI singer Joey Kitson to complete its signature sound.
Already one of the top concert draws in the region, and with a growing fanbase across Canada and in Europe, Rawlins Cross released Living River in 1995, which garnered two Juno Award nominations. The band toured Canada three times that year and signed a licensing deal for its music in Europe.
During that period Rawlins Cross performed live on the nationally-televised East Coast Music Awards before an audience of two million viewers.
The band expanded its international audience by headlining the 9th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Celebration Festival in Germany and also representing Canada at the Expo Cumbre de las Americas in Santiago, Chile.
Two more albums followed: Celtic Instrumentals in 1997, a retrospective collection and the studio album Make It On Time, which would prove to be the band’s last album for more than a decade. With total album sales topping 100,000 units, Rawlins Cross has been one of the region’s most successful bands.
In 2008 Rawlins Cross reunited after a several year hiatus and released Anthology, a compilation of its best recorded songs. In Fall 2010, the band released Heart Head Hands (GroundSwell/ Warner Music). This marked the band’s first full album release in 12 years. Around that time, the band performed for Queen Elizabeth II at a large outdoor event in Halifax.
Rawlins Cross, has, again, rekindled their magic with their six-track EP, Rock Steady, released December 1st, 2017 through GroundSwell Music. Rock Steady was co-produced by Jon Landry and Geoff Panting. This collection of new songs along with a string of successful festival performances, has added some spring to the step of this venerable East Coast act.
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