Calgary Herald

APRIL 29, 2004


By Heath McCoy
Hit the highways of Western Canada and you’ll find them, strumming their guitars and singing their songs in every bar, honky-tonk and roots festival down the line.

They are Alberta’s cowboy troubadours; storytellers, purveyors of the province’s rugged country and western heritage. The sons of Ian Tyson, you might call them.

Tom Phillips, Corb Lund, Matt Masters, Dave McCann. There are some fine names atop the list and, since arrived in Calgary a little more than one year ago, Tim Hus has slowly been climbing his way into their ranks.

Hus’s new disc, Alberta Crude, which will be released Saturday at Merlot, further solidifies his place in the lineage.

The disc, recorded with Hus’s Rocky Mountain Band, finds the Nelson, B.C.-born songwriter singing old-school western tunes about oil booms, whiskey runners, forest fires, truck drivers, bullriders, fortune seekers and, of course, travelling guitar-pickers with cowboy hats.

It’s a well-crafted, warm, genuinely rootsy recording that was made as a tribute to Alberta’s centennial, which the province will be celebrating next year.

Hus, 26, became enthralled with the cowboy mystique, oddly enough, when he was working on boats in Nanaimo, B.C., studying fishery. He began performing in local bars, eventually taking time off work so he could play. This led to a gig in Germany, where Hus’s mother lives, singing in Canadian pavilions at trade fairs and exhibitions.

Hus was hooked and, when he came back to Canada, he decided to pursue his singing cowboy dreams.

“I ended up in Calgary,” Hus says, “because my theory was, if you wanna be a big country star, you go to Nashville. If you wanna be a Canadian cowboy singer, you come to Calgary, it bein’ Cowtown and all.”

And Hus comes by the western Canadian tales of which he sings honestly.

“I could sing you a song about Alabama and how I miss it, but I’ve never been there,” he says.

“I like writing songs about hockey and snowmobiles.

“I grew up rurally… My old man was a trucker and he worked for the CPR. Him and his friends would spend their time talking about vintage tractors… My brother worked on the oil rights… I try to write honest stuff about the things I know.

”If that’s his mission, Hus feels like he’s doing a fine job. He received that affirmation last year when one of his heroes, Stompin’ Tom Connors, gave the thumbs-up to Man With The Black Hat, a song off his last album, Songs of West Canada.

The tune was written as a tribute to “The Stomper” — in fact, it went on to appear on the Calgary-produced Stompin’ Tom tribute album, BYOP: Bring Your Own Plywood — and Hus took it upon himself to send Connors a copy.

Connors wrote the songwriter a letter expressing his appreciation, for both the tribute and for Hus’s work.

“I’ve also liked what Stompin’ Tom did,” Hus says. “To me, he’s Canada’s Johnny Cash, a travelling folk singer. I learned a lot from his records… When he wrote me back saying he liked my work, it was a proud moment.”

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