If you are at all familiar with East Coast music over the past 20 years or so, you’ve seen Keith Mullins, at some point, playing percussion onstage with some of the region’s biggest names. Mullins has been playing music all his life. Raised in Howie Centre, Cape Breton County, his family played all styles of music—from the hits to jazz and Cape Breton fiddling to country—and music runs thick through his blood. A multiple award-winning songwriter with a degree in classical music, Keith has studied with master drummers in West Africa and Cuba, toured the world with the East Coast’s finest musicians, and has been facilitating drum workshops for more than 10 years.
Although primarily known, locally and in the industry, as a versatile and tasteful drummer and percussionist, Keith has also been recognized in the last few years as a talented singer and songwriter as well.
Mullins first solo album, Localmotive Farm, was released in 2012, as was The Wood Buffalo Youth Song Project, a songwriting collaboration with Thom Swift, Stephen Bowers and students in Northern Alberta. Both albums showcased Mullins’ songwriting and both won East Coast Music Awards that year.
Now, with a new record ready for release, Mullins’ songs are in the spotlight again. Last month, a song he wrote about the Fort McMurray fires, “Hard Working Hands in Tragedies”, was featured in Maclean’s magazine and this week, it’s “Just Another Day”, his co-write with Randy Jones, an editor on strike at the Chronicle Herald, that’s making news. And while neither of these songs is on the new release (he just wrote them, afterall), you can bet that in just over a week from now, it’ll be the songs from his new album, The Heart of Everything, that everyone will be talking about.
While Mullins plays all the instruments and does all the singing, there are some featured musicians on the album, including Colin Grant (fiddle) and Gordie Sampson. Sampson, Chris Kirby and Dave Sampson also figure in some of the songs as co-writers. The songs were recorded at Lakewind Studios, co-produced by Mike “Sheppy” Shepherd and mixed and mastered by John Kennedy in Nashville TN.
His third solo album, The Heart of Everything is available for sale now, through Mullins’ website, but the official release will take place Saturday, June 25 at the Highland Arts Theatre in Sydney.
Mullins has lined up an impressive band for the evening, including noted Cape Breton musicians Colin Grant, Kim Dunn, Angelo Spinazzola and Ed Woodsworth. The band will also be backed by choir consisting of 80 students from Coxheath, Marion Bridge, George D. Lewis, and Riverside Schools. One of Mullins’ musical passions is working in schools and with students. As a result, these students are very familiar with Keith’s music. Their contribution will make for an amazing night of music. All of the proceeds from this event will go towards the Cape Breton Music Industry Cooperative (CBMIC), a not-for-profit organization developed to grow and support Cape Breton’s music industry.
“I’m ecstatic about my new CD release show coming up at the Highland Arts theatre supporting CBMIC,” says Mullins. “The band is stacked with some amazing musicians, and a huge student choir. There’s nothing like the sound of children’s voices. And CBMIC does great things for Cape Breton and Cape Breton musicians, so come out and support this fantastic organization.”
Check out keithmullins.ca for loads of videos and more about his music, travels and collaborations.