Rawlins Cross bringing distinct Newfoundland flavour to New Glasgow

Published on June 24, 2014

Rawlins Cross, a six-piece Celtic rock group originating in St. John’s, N.L., is stopping in New Glasgow as part of their latest tour.


With little communication from neighbouring communities comes a unique musical sound.

That’s Dave Panting’s theory, anyway, on why Newfoundland music is vastly different across the island.

“It’s the land of individuals,” the Rawlins Cross guitarist and mandolin player said in a phone interview leading up to the band’s show at Glasgow Square in New Glasgow this week.

Their special spin on the Celtic sound is different even from other islands, such as Cape Breton, that bridge North America and the old world.

Though it might not be the case now with more exposure to music through media, there was a time when each area would breed its own tune.

He listed each region’s influence, French for the West and Irish for St. John’s, while noting the whole province is steeped in country as well as a good beat for step dancing.

“They had grown in isolation,” he said of the styles, adding that’s what sets them apart.

Panting knows his Newfoundland music, having been a part of the scene since he was 17, recording his first album at Jack’s Radio Shop, the only studio in St. John’s at the time.

“Someone still has that tape,” he said, laughing.

That’s when the bug was planted for his long career in the industry, making a four-track record – three of which were his own material.

After that group disbanded a few years later, he joined Figgy Duff in 1974 as bass guitarist.

They forced him to try mandolin, despite his argument that he joined the band for bass.

He didn’t realize how much he would come to enjoy the instrument.

“It was then that I got to explore the province and learn what Newfoundland is all about,” he said, noting that he hadn’t known much about his homeland when he was younger.

By the late 1980s, he was playing and writing for Rawlins Cross after teaming up with his brother Geoff and meeting piper Ian McKinnon at a party in St. John’s.

It took a few years to take off and underwent some changes in the lineup, but once the band was on its feet, it never sat down, playing upwards of 300 shows a year.

It’s slowed down in recent years with their last group album in 2010 and tours on a limited basis depending on band member availability.

They’re all still in the music business in some form or another.

They head out on a Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island mini-tour, starting June 26 in New Glasgow.

Tickets are $30 in advance and $35 at the door for the 8 p.m. show.



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