Chuck Kuepfer, Staff Reporter
Whether it’s Canadian history, geography or everyday people, Tim Hus sure knows how to write a song that reflects life in this vast country of ours.
Traveling from coast to coast, Hus draws from his experiences and the history books to write songs that bear a striking resemblance to the music of the legendary icon of Canadiana, Stompin’ Tom Connors.
On Friday, those songs were sung for an appreciative crowd at the Maryhill Commercial Tavern, which was quick to hit the dance floor in pairs and two-step to Hus’s old country music sound.
To be sure, his music is a throwback to the likes Hank Williams, because “Everybody loves a Hank Williams Song,” a title that appears on his debut album from 2002.
Backed by the upright bass rhythm provided by ever-smilin’ Riley Tubbs, and lead guitar and fiddle from Billly MacInnis, the trio entertained with songs from Hus’s five albums. They even tossed in a new truck driving song for good measure.
As the evening unfolded, the band took the Commercial Tavern patrons to Hamilton and the days when the steel industry was booming (Hamilton Steel); to Alberta where Hus’s brother helped mine black gold from the ground (One More Oil Boom); and to Nova Scotia where Hank Snow was born and rose to stardom (Home of Hank Snow).
There were songs about saloons, bull riders and coal mines, a tip of the hat to regular folk, to hard-working Canadians across the country.
Hus himself is an Albertan who identifies with the common man. He’s worked as a “carpenter’s helper, warehouse hand, forklift driver, van driver, treeplanter, brewery truck driver, fruit picker, fisherman, pine cone picker, sawhand, woodworker, well driller, painter, courier, assembly line worker, salmon farmer, furniture mover, labourer, and jack of all trades,” as states his website.
While a competent guitar player, Hus’s real talent lies in songwriting and a remarkable ability to remember lyrics and fill in the gaps with personal anecdotes and historical tales between songs.
He is as personable on stage as off, pulling up a chair with beer in hand to engage in conversation with complete strangers, as well as renew acquaintances with locals who buy his CDs and love his music.
On stage, Hus made sure to give MacInnis the spotlight to highlight the Prince Edward Island native’s fiddle skills, which are truly remarkable.
Maryhill was only one stop for the band on a cross-country jaunt playing bars, festivals and backyards to sing about Canada.
And you just never know. Maybe one day an ode to the Commercial Tavern will appear on a Hus record, as a tribute to the unique venue with a friendly patrons, storied history and ongoing legacy.