The 2018–19 season of Home Routes Concerts kicked off in September with a tour by country singer Tim Hus, accompanied by his sideman of 15 years, Spider Bishop.
Hus, on vocals and guitar, is reminiscent of a younger incarnation of Stompin’ Tom Connors, with whom he did tour at one time. In a live performance, his style is clearly country, but a bit on the folk side. He’s got a good line of humorous patter to go with the songs, some of which he explains – most of which he wrote. And that’s where the Stompin’ Tom similarity comes in.
These are all unabashedly Canadian tunes about bush pilots, truckers, folks who like to fish, hockey, small-town bars and hotels. He threw in a few covers, including “The Hockey Song” and a version of “The Cremation of Sam Magee.”
Bishop played mostly stand-up bass, using the instrument for percussion as well as a rhythmic bottom, and also played lead guitar on several of the songs.
The duo toured the Yukon, a bit of British Columbia and Inuvik as part of the Aurora Trail line-up of the Home Routes program, which sends performers out to do about 12 house concerts, six times a year, in 11 different touring zones from the Maritimes to the Yukon.
The second group in the fall line-up will be the New Customs, an Indie folk duo out of Winnipeg. Emma Cloney and Dale Brown are multi-instrumentalists and are said to provide all types of music “from foot-stompers to tear-jerkers, ballads to barnburners.”
They’ll be in the territory from October 17 to 29, performing in Dease Lake, B.C.; Whitehorse; Crag Lake; Atlin, B.C.; Marsh Lake; Whitehorse (twice); Haines Junction; Faro; Mayo; Dawson City; Old Crow; and Inuvik, N.W.T.
“Washboard Hank” Fisher will be returning to the Yukon from November 15 to 28, travelling with Lance Loree (also known as Uncle Thirsty). Hailing from Peterborough, Ontario, Fisher has played Dawson a number of times, often with Fred Eaglesmith.
Fisher plays the four- and five-string banjos, a Martin guitar, a kazoo, a dobro and a mandolin, but his signature instrument is his “legendary Stradivarius Washboard, a truly amazing conglomeration of bells, license plates, horns, duck calls, pots and pans.” There’s also a Kitchen Sink Tuba, though that seems to turn up more when he does kids’ television shows.
Loree is a lead guitarist and has played with a number of bands, including one he appears in with Spider Bishop. He is said to have a wry sense of humour. His bio refers to him as being “outstanding, and when he is not playing music he is literally out standing in his field, tending to his pigs and vegetables and cows and barley and tractors ….”
House concerts may attract up to a couple of dozen in the audience, each one paying a small fee, which goes to the performers. In Dawson, quite a few of these concerts happen at Peter Menzies’ house, but they may occur in other homes and have also been located at the Red Mammoth Bistro, the Alchemy Café, and Parks Canada’s Red Feather Saloon.
There will be a second series of three concerts, beginning in February, but I’ll save those details for another column.