A Magical Musical Place




There is a wonderful place located behind the National Gallery in Ottawa, Canada. It is called Nepean Point and is essentially a small hill from which there are stunning panoramic views of the Ottawa River and the Canadian Parliament buildings in the distance. Also on Nepean Point is an open-air theater, the Astrolabe Theater, which holds many fond memories for me because I spent many summer days there soaking up the sun’s rays and also many warm sultry and magical evenings there listening to enchanting streams of music performed by talented artistes in that intimate setting. With the view, atmosphere and music combined, I feel like I have been given a preview of heaven.

View of Parliament Hill from Nepean Point

On one occasion, I had the privilege of watching a young family band from Nova Scotia back in 1991. They had released two albums but was still not widely known yet. Their breakthrough was to come just 2 years later when they won all kinds of awards and became a household name in Canada. I can claim to have also enjoyed free concerts from Alanis Morrisette before she made it big and also Celine Dion while she was still a rocker and before she became Disnesque.

Anyway, this band was called The Rankin Family and consisted of the siblings Jimmy, Raylene, Cookie, Heather and John Morris. This lively group draws inspiration from their Celtic-Scottish roots and their Nova Scotia heritage and delivers both soulful songs as well as live affirming jigs. That night, their music had me enthralled. Later, I waited with the rest of the crowd to buy their CDs and to have them personally autographed. The signed CDs and a friendly kiss on the cheek from Cookie completed my capitulation to their charms (that’s my memory of the night and I am a sticking to it!).

They disbanded to pursue their own interests in 1999 and John Morris was tragically killed in a car accident in 2000. The Rankin Family rose again though to have a successful tour in 2006 and are active again this year. May their musical legacy “live on in the faces of their children” (lyrics from their song, We Rise Again) Now, through the wonders of YouTube, I hope to put you under their spell too.

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