You don’t get to pick up the mantle of Stompin’ Tom Connors without seeing a few things, meeting a lot of people and logging a whole lot of miles back and forth across Canada. Tim Hus has done the things, and he’s got the songs to prove it.
He’s been a fisherman, a sawhand, a well driller, a brewery truck driver and held a host of other jobs that have provided the experiences related in his poignant lyrics, delivered in the style of Stompin’ Tom, Ian Tyson, Corb Lund and Johnny Cash.
Over the last decade, the 33-year-old Nelson, B.C.-native has crisscrossed the country, playing some 200 shows a year and picking up yet more stories along the way. His most recent tour had him setting out from his Calgary home Thursday, with stops in the likes of Winnipeg, Wawa and Oakville before arriving in Maryhill to play the Commercial Tavern Aug. 3.
The heavy touring schedule is all in a day’s work for Hus.
“Some people wouldn’t envy me for the amount of miles we put on. I feel lucky that I get to see the entire country every year,” he said in an phone interview from his home just before hitting the road yet again.
Every tour and every stop is more potential material for his storytelling style of writing songs. The first song he ever wrote was about the logging camp where he worked after graduating high school. Moving out to the coast, he got a job on a salmon boat. That spawned a song about his experience there.
“It just kinda grew from there,” he explained.
His first album – 2002’s Songs of West Canada – contained a lot of songs about B.C. He then moved to Calgary and began touring more extensively – he figures there have been 1,500 to 2,000 shows in the decade he’s been doing it – and the repertoire grew more varied. Organically, he developed a style that’s similar in approach to Stompin’ Tom’s, though in a different era.
“I was always drawn to the roots/country/folk style,” he said, pointing to the likes of Johnny Cash.
“I wasn’t necessarily setting out to be the guy who has a song about everywhere – it’s just sorta turning out that way,” he added with a laugh, talking of the comparisons to Stompin’ Tom.
One night in 2009, while playing at a hotel in Manitobo, Hus got a call from Stompin’ Tom asking him to be the opening act in an upcoming tour. Since that time, he’s essentially had Tom’s blessing to carry on that style of music.
“Getting to play Canadian country music with Stompin’ Tom is like getting to play hockey with Wayne Gretzky,” said Hus of the experience.
Like Connors, he writes about things that interest him: people he’s met, places he’s visited or historical stories that have caught his attention. Those things have provided material for five albums – a sixth in now in the works – and some 80 to 100 songs. While there are no end of things to write about, it’s really only those that really touch him that make it into song. Ideally, they’re songs that resonate with others.
Given that many people approach him at shows to tell him they can relate to a song about a place or occupation, Hus figures he’s on to something. Following the release of 2008’s Bush Pilot Buckaroo, for instance, the owner of a small air service in Northern Ontario – a bush pilot – bought up 1,000 copies of the CD.
From tales of pilots, miners, loggers to West Kootenay gunfighters and Hamilton steelworkers, Hus’s cast of characters will be joining him on stage at the Commercial Tavern Aug. 3. at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10, available at the venue, 1303 Maryhill Rd., or by calling 519-648-3644. For more information, visit www.commercialtavern.ca.