SMALL TOWN STORIES AND A SPARKLING TELECASTER
by Rick Overwater
Poised to drop Huskies and Husqvarnas, his latest album, Hus is still the traveling troubadour, immortalizing the unsung lives of hard-working people – most of whom have never spent a single workday under fluorescent lights. People who primarily live and work in the country, the all-but forgotten reason somebody once coined the term “country music.”
“I really try to be a grassroots kind of entertainer and those are the people who identify with me the best,” says Hus. “Those are the people that I get my stories and songs from. I’m not necessarily saying I’m always going to keep writing songs in this vein, but I have endless ideas to write about and I definitely had three albums worth of stuff I wanted to say.”
Primarily driven by his regular band, bass player Spider, guitarist Rick Preston, and occasionally drummer Pat Phillips, Huskies and Husqvarnas is a prime display of Hus at his best, spinning tales of beer haulers, train robbers, oilsands workers, bronc riders and down-on-their-luck farmers amidst the thump of a standup bass and the sparkling spank of a telecaster guitar. With a few ringers on hand, Calgary banjo killer Craig Korth, part-time Ian Tyson fiddler Myran Szott and Corb Lund, to name just a few, it picks up where Alberta Crude left off. God willing, it’ll bring more of the successes Hus experienced following the last record.
“We actually charted on some AM country stations, which was quite cool,” enthuses Hus. Of course those were largely rural stations where the connection to Hus’ subject matter is the strongest. “Yeah, the program directors seemed a little more lenient that way.”
Of course, with Hus’ reputation for racking up the miles between tiny hamlets and big cities – he’ll play ‘em all – there has to be some highlights on the gigging front as well.
“I really find it to be quite the thrill that we’re on the level where we get to do high-profile shows, like Alberta Scene, where we had back to back shows in Ottawa. And then we’re out in Castor, Alberta,” he laughs.
It’s pretty obvious which of those gigs are just a showcase for Hus’ style and which are the ones who make him what he is.
“I’m not ashamed to say we spend a lot of time in small-town saloons,” Hus states. “But we’re all from small towns, so sometimes we prefer it that way. I think it is kind of a niche market.”
For a storyteller like Hus, these are prime hunting grounds for the material he proudly weaves into factually-accurate yarns, and most nights its easy hunting.
“I can hardly imagine being in a bar somewhere and somebody just says ‘Well damn, I don’t have any story to tell. Go to the next town if you want to talk.”
So when Hus finishes unveiling Huskies and Husqvarnas in the big cities, it’s back to those same small burgs. You just know there’s bound to be one drunk who takes rejection of his Brooks and Dunn request personally, or a bunch of small-town rockers voicing disapproval because they’re stuck with Hus in the town’s only watering hole.
Not to worry, unruly audiences keep Hus entertained.
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