Tim Hus has been described as a guy with a voice ‘sweeter than a Husqvarna chainsaw and a list of songs longer than a Saskatchewan fence line’.
The Alberta-based singer with the black hat and easygoing personality is a captivating performer who draws listeners into the settings of his storytelling country and roots music. He didn’t so much grow up in a musical family as a ‘storytelling’ family.
Featuring tunes from his latest CD Western Star, he performs Nov. 8 at The Hideout starting at 9 p.m.
“I would call it cross-country music,” explains Hus of his tunes in general. “Basically, it’s Canadiana roots music in the western vein. I’ve built sort of a ‘troubadour’ style career, and that’s what I was drawn to initially – the storytelling type of country and folk music. That’s kind of the path I’ve followed.”
Mentored by the late Stompin’ Tom Connors (he was part of two national tours as Tom’s opening artist and backup band), Hus carries on the tradition of writing songs about working Canadians and the nation’s rich history.
Looking back to his formative years, Hus’ dad was something of a relentless globetrotter back in the day, having visited or worked in about 100 countries.
Needless to say, there were plenty of stories to tell about his experiences, and it was in this environment Hus grew up. His family wasn’t overly musical, although his father had bought a guitar – which he didn’t really learn himself.
But Hus, who grew up in southern B.C., picked it up as a teen and a gift for songwriting began to surface.
Still, music wasn’t a career he originally envisioned. Over the years, he’s been everything from a beer truck driver to a sawhand, a salmon farmer to a tree planter and a cabinet maker to a well driller. As to music, his career unfolded rather naturally.
Family and friends were quick to recognize his talents, and encouraged him to develop his craft.
And as his discs have taken shape, he’s been singing about all of it. With his band, he brings his music to small town community halls, international festivals and just about every truck stop in between. He racks up about 200 shows a year.
“I consider myself to be fortunate, in that I get to see the country every year. Sort of at a ground level, too, in a lot of ways.” Many of the same folks come out to his shows when he’s in a given town, so it’s kind of like a reunion of sorts, he adds.
Meanwhile, Western Star is his fourth CD of original songs. Recorded in Nashville, Hus had ace producer and session drummer Harry Stinson in his corner for the recording as well. Stinson, who has worked with artists including Steve Earle, Trisha Yearwood, Ian Tyson, Corb Lund and Kevin Welch, brought in an A-list of veteran musicians.
Guests on Western Star include Kenny Vaughan (Marty Stuart, Lucinda Williams), Hank Singer (George Jones), Wanda Vick (Porter Wagoner), and Chris Scruggs (the surname needs no introduction) who added some stellar lap steel to a couple of tunes.
“It was really a lot of fun. I’ve known Harry for quite some time. I had always self-produced, but it was more a matter of how you have to keep growing and challenging yourself. I didn’t want to make the same album over and over again.”
So Hus and Stinson found the time last year and settled in for a few weeks of recording. “It didn’t take long to record – it was done more of less ‘live off the floor’ but it took longer to mix it because you only have a day or two between tours to work on it.” Stinson is a busy guy himself, also being country singer Marty Stuart’s drummer.
“I’m really happy with how it’s turned out. We’ve also been getting rave reviews on it – the best we’ve had.”
Fans of acoustic and bluegrass music will also be pleased to hear that Glen Duncan made guest appearances throughout the CD on banjo and Tim Graves on dobro (nephew of Uncle Josh Graves – the dobro player for Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys).
Hus is certainly looking forward to taking Western Star across Canada and beyond. Joining him on tour will be his band, the Rocky Mountain Two, featuring Billy MacInnis on fiddle and Riley Tubbs on upright string bass. Meanwhile, the passion to make his ‘artistic’ mark continues.
“There’s a father and son in Ontario that always come and see us. They had never been to western Canada until last summer. They said because of my songs, they finally took the trip and went to all the sites I’ve written about in my songs. That’s pretty exciting to me, that it connects to people in that way,” he says.
“I’ve also been blessed in that it’s always been supported,” he adds of his music. “I think I’ve played about 1,700 shows by now in my career, and knock on wood, we’ve never played anywhere where we haven’t been asked back yet.”