Hillbilly Highway – Pit stop with Tim Hus

Tim Hus is a Canadiana Country singer based out of Calgary, AB. Born in Nelson, B.C., Hus has traveled the Hillbilly Highway back and forth across the Great White North countless times, by train, by truck and by thumb. On Thursday, October 20th, he rolls into the Times Change(d) here in Winnipeg for an intimate set in one of his favourite watering holes.

Hus’s latest album, Hockeytown, is a Canadiana beauty in the vein of classic Canadian storytellers like Stompin’ Tom Connors and Ian Tyson. The title track is arguably one of the best hockey songs ever put to tape, up there for certain with Tom’s own classic and Propagandhi’s “Dear Coaches Corner.” I caught up with Tim as he was rolling through rural Quebec, after spending Thanksgiving playing shows on Prince Edward Island, and we quickly got talking about the Jets.

“I’m absolutely thrilled that Winnipeg has the Jets back again,” Hus told me. “I always figured that if there was ever a Canadian city that should have a hockey team, it would have to be Winnipeg. So, I was disappointed when they lost the Jets, and I’m thrilled that you’ve got them back.”

“I think Winnipeg has one of the best music scenes in the country,” he continues, as talk moves from hockey to honky tonk. “It seems like all the best musicians come from Winnipeg. The Times Change(d) is a fun little club… I’ve played there a couple years ago. Then last year, I opened up for Stompin’ Tom at the Centennial Concert Hall.”

Hus spent a few months in 2010 playing in Tom’s band and opening shows for the ol’ Stomper from coast to coast. Crossing the country with Tom was quite the experience for Hus, who counts the Stomper among his top influences.

“I remember that show stood out on the tour with Stompin’ Tom quite a bit,” Hus recalls. “I don’t know, it just seems like there’s big music fans and big country music fans in Winnipeg. I remember there were even guys who rode their horses to the Centennial Hall there for the show. I thought that was pretty cool for a downtown show.”

Hus, who has five albums under his belt buckle, has become a bit of a road dog himself of late, playing over 200 concerts a year with his band, the Rocky Mountain Two. I ask him if the Road has become his first home these days?

“I guess maybe it is my first home at this point,” he admits after a pause. “We definitely spend more time away from home than at home, that’s for sure. But you know, I consider it a real privilege. Canada is such a wonderful, great country, the best country in the world as far as I’m concerned, and a lot of people don’t get to see it like we do. We play all the provinces every year, we get to travel around and see all parts of it. Most people, if you’ve got a regular job, you only get a few weeks of holidays every year. It’s a big country, you can’t really drive very far in just a few weeks. So I consider it to be a real privilege that we get to travel around and see the country that we live in.”

Traveling the Hillbilly Highway from coast to coast, and even overseas, is where Hus draw much of his inspiration for songs from, using his lyrics to paint pictures of the people and places he visits along the way. Many folks would even consider him to be the heir apparent to Stompin’ Tom’s black cowboy crown as Canadiana’s top troubadour.

“I just kind of started writing songs about stuff that I knew,” Hus says humbly. “And you know I’m from Western Canada, so that made them pretty Western Canadian songs. My first album was pretty BC flavoured, cuz that’s where I’m from, so there was some logging and salmon fishing songs on there. And then as I traveled further — this band is based out of Alberta now — I got a lot of prairie songs now. And traveling around all the time now, I got more songs, but usually the songs I’ve written are storytelling songs, folk songs more or less.”

To catch this truck-drivin’, foot-stompin’ Canadiana country singin’ son-of-a-gun in the flesh, you best make your ass down to the Times next Thursday, or you’ll be missing out. Big time. See you there, turkeys.

– Sheldon Birnie of Stylus Magazine

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