Tim Hus is part of the latest generation of songwriters chronicling the Canadian way of life.
Hus for the last decade has carved out a living travelling across the country performing his own songs that resonate with the people in the audience.
“I celebrate the Canadian way of life in song,” Hus said.
Beyond earning a living with his own music, Hus sees part of his job as bringing the vast country of Canada together.
“By writing these songs about different people and places and travelling down the road and singing them, I’m trying to help inform parts of the country about what’s going on in other parts.”
Bringing the country together is a big job, but Hus is willing to take it on — one fan at a time. He tells the story of a father and son in Ontario who regularly turn up for his concerts.
“They said for the first time they took a trip to the west last summer, and they visited all the sites that I’d written songs about. When I hear that kind of thing that’s my ultimate goal, that I sparked an interest in them to discover their own country and get to know it.”
Tim Hus and His Travellin’ Band play Friday and Saturday, Sept. 20-21 at 8 p.m. as the first installment in the 2013-’14 Centre Stage Series.
The concerts serve as CD release parties for Hus’s newest album, “Western Star.”
Tim Hus and His Travellin’ Band set out each year to visit every province on a busy touring schedule that sees them perform 200 shows. Touring Canada provides much of the inspiration for Hus’s songs.
“I consider myself to be very fortunate,” Hus said. “I get to see the whole country every year. I’ve written a lot of songs about the people and places along the way.”
Twelve of those songs are on Hus’s new CD “Western Star.” The subject matter ranges from driving truck in Ontario to picking apples in B.C., from fishing off the east coast to dances at small town halls on the prairies.
The music is what Hus calls “Country Canadiana” in the tradition of stars such as Stompin’ Tom Connors and Wilf Carter.
“I gather ideas for stories on our travels,” Hus said. “There’s songs on this album basically from one side of the country to the other. We’ve got prairie songs, west coast songs, east coast stuff — you name it, it’s all on there.”
Hus was introduced to country music while growing up in the Kootenay region of B.C.
Hus took an early liking to the songs that told stories and that influence has shaped his own songwriting. He’s now got a play list that is described “as long as a Saskatchewan fence line.”
“I’m very proud to be part of a tradition of country folk music,” Hus said. “I did want to take the opportunity on this album to pay tribute to those who have been doing this for a lot longer than me.”
Hank Snow and Wilf Carter were part of the first generation writing about Canada, and songwriters such as Stompin’ Tom and Ian Tyson formed the next generation, with Hus and his own contemporaries the latest in the line.
“I guess I’m about the third generation. I’m pretty excited about that. I think it’s kind of cool to get to be almost a pioneer.”
Hus recruited guest musicians who have played with legends such as Hank Snow, Bill Monroe, Marty Stuart and George Jones.
Hus worked with producer Harry Stinson, who played with Marty Stuart’s band Fabulous Superlatives and who also played drums and sang background vocals on “Western Star.”
In addition to Travellin’ Band members Riley Tubbs and Billy MacInnis, who will perform with Hus at the Empress, they enlisted musicians such as Kenny Vaughan, Hank Singer, Wanda Vick, Chris Scruggs, Glen Duncan, Tim Graves and Kayton Douglas.
“They’re all great players,” Hus said in admiration. “Every musician is kind of individual so it’s exciting to see what they bring to your song. They kind of take on a life of their own.”
“I was thrilled. They all really liked my songs. They were all pretty excited about it,” Hus added. “I think it turned out great. I can hardly wait to get out there and tour it everywhere.”
They recorded “Western Star” off the floor, choosing a style that mimicked the band’s everyday live performances.
“We’re essentially a live band, so I try and capture that as much as possible,” Hus said. “That’s kind of where my comfort zone is. I find the studio sometimes not so easy because we spend so many nights on stage . . . it sort of suits the style of music too.”
Hus and His Travellin’ Band will play all the new songs off “Western Star” in the shows at the Empress Theatre, along with other hits that are familiar to fans.
It’s fitting that Hus is holding a release party at the Empress, since he chose the 100-year-old building as the setting for photos that illustrate the CD’s cover.
“It’s the oldest theatre in Alberta, and my band is based out of Alberta,” Hus said of choosing the Empress for the photos. “And it’s a really cool place.”
Hus liked the idea of doing the photo session in the theatre as a way to pay tribute to the performances it has hosted in the course of its first century.
“I wanted to pay tribute to the continuity,” Hus said. “I don’t want to say I’m just another link in the chain, but I am a link in the chain. I’ve learned from those who have gone before me, and there will be those who follow behind me. There’s been years of shows at the Empress and hopefully many more years of shows. I’m proud to be part of the whole thing.”