Beatroute Magazine - June 2010




MUSIC - ROOTS

TIM HUS

COWBOYCULTURE AMBASSADOR


By Spencer Brown
It’s not often you’d think of country music as a cultural ambassador – a cowboy hat diplomat? – but that’s exactly what Tim Hus is. A champion of all things Canadian, Hus has found acceptance not only from east to west but overseas as well. Speaking from his home in Calgary, Tim is on his way to Rocky Mountain Cowboy Festival in Nordegg, Alberta. “It’s a lot of boots and hats for sure,” says Hus, “and it celebrates western culture. There’s a number of them around western Canada and the western United States. There’s western art, saddle making, leather work and then there’s a music festival with bands and cowboy poets and that kind of thing. The festival has been going for five years and I played the inaugural edition and now, I’m ready to make my triumphant return,” chuckles Hus. For those curious about attending, rest assured you don’t need a bull rider’s belt buckle to get in. “I would recommend it,” says Hus. “It’s a lot of fun; the people are friendly and open. It’s like a folk festival except where a folk festival is more world music, cowboy fest is more like a western Canadian festival with good food, people and atmosphere.”

Tim Hus is preparing to premier his newest album, Hockeytown. When asked if it’s a concept album about the game, Hus reveals the meaning. “I did a big tour with Stompin’ Tom from Ontario to the Maritimes last summer and it went really well. This summer we’ll be doing the western leg of it. The album is from that experience and approach: all the songs are about Canada coast to coast and everywhere you go in the country, it’s always a hockey town.” As for Hus’s hockey passion, he fondly recalls playing hockey growing up and still keeps on top of the game, but declines to name favourite teams in the spirit of his “coast to coast” music.

While this Canadiana may be part and parcel of Hus’s music, he notes that it wasn’t always viable to be a Canadian artist passionate about your own country. “I think it’s getting better after stuff like what I’ve been doing and what Corb Lund has been doing. But we’re still largely influenced by the American music industry. We do have our own scene and we do have people who are champions of Canada and Canadian culture, for example, the Corb Lund song ‘Hurtin’ Albertan,’ which I co-wrote with him.”

This pride in being Canadian and representing the country has “led to an interesting thing that’s happened to my band as of late,” says Hus. “We’ve become a cultural ambassador. Last year we played at the Vancouver Olympics in that role (and) we recently played Martinque, a French island in the Caribbean, and we were told we were the first Canadian band to ever perform there. Last month I was over in South Korea playing at universities and Europe not long before that… Just because it’s Canadian music doesn’t mean it’s just for Canadians. We’re taking it around the world and giving everyone a taste of the culture.” In terms of the reaction, Hus says, “It’s gone over great everywhere. There’s a lot of interest but it’s always received differently, it’s not so relatable for some of them, so it’s more they’re experiencing something not familiar to them.”

In true Canadian fashion, one of the more memorable experiences comes from visiting our neighbour to the south. “We played the States at the Dollar Watch Jamboree in Washington. We headlined the festival down there and a lot of the time I get criticized that my songs are too Canadian to work in the U.S., but we had the most merchandise and albums sold out of any band at that festival,” says Hus with some trace of pride.

Just how Canadian are his songs? “Well, on the new album I’ve got a song about hunting the Sasquatch; I don’t think you can get more Canadian than that!” he laughs. “A lot of my songs are stories from the road – places we travel to and people we met are all seen through my eyes and my pen,” says Hus.

Because of the common threads running through the songs, Hus says, “People come up to me and say, ‘That song, that’s about me,’ and that’s a nightly occurrence. I’m just thrilled with how things are going. Even in Ontario and the Maritimes people sing along. Some people will drive, six, seven, eight hours and book a hotel room just to see the show. They’ll hang out and go back home after.”

Tim Hus is touched by the personal connections he shares with his fans. “I feel my songs are all very relatable for people and to have someone tell you, you sing about everything I am, I guess it’s a dream come true. All kinds of songwriters try to relate to people and it’s such a great feeling when you accomplish that.” Hus looks forward to maintaining this relationship with his current fans and establishing that kind of connections with his new fans. He expects that with the release of Hockeytown, his fan base will increase. “Sonically, it’s the best sounding record we’ve ever done. We recorded it at Homestead in Edmonton (where the likes of KD Lang and Corb Lund have recorded) and I’m just really excited to hear it.” With the release of Hockeytown, Hus plans on doing the two things he loves best: touring Canada coast to coast playing his songs and learning their stories and spreading Canadian culture as far abroad as his music will take him.

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