After several months’ hiatus, the Sayso Expression Society will return to Merritt this week with a different appearance.
The group—formed in 2009 to give locals a place to share their views and talents, whatever they were—will try something completely new: a concert by professionals.
Edmonton country musician Tim Hus will perform at the Culture Club, formerly known as Iron Mountain Music, this Sunday at 7 p.m. in a show presented by Sayso.
Hus describes his music as “cowboy Canadiana” borne of his broad range of experiences and travels. Aside from his music career, Hus has worked as a truck driver, tree planter, and salmon farmer, among other jobs.
Sayso director Mil Juricic says that although Hus is a young man, his lyrics offer surprising depth.
“He tells stories about the North, the oil patch, the bush plane people.
“Even if you don’t like country music, you should like Tim Hus.”
Billy MacInnis on violin and lead guitar and Riley Tubbs on upright string bass round out Hus’ band, known as Tim Hus and the Rocky Mountain Two.
Juricic notes that MacInnis has played with numerous country and folk musicians throughout a long career, including a regular gig accompanying Stompin’ Tom Connors that continues today.
“We’re dealing with a professional group,” he says.
Hus’ upcoming shows include several performances at the Calgary Stampede.
“He’ll go to a place like Abbotsford or Vernon and sell out,” says Juricic.
Juricic explains that Hus had performed at The Hitch ‘n’ Post restaurant in Lower Nicola at dinner-and-a-show events in recent years but wanted to play at more of a concert venue in the Nicola Valley.
Juricic adds that he hopes to bring more professional shows to the Culture Club and “make Merritt more of an arts destination” through an agreement with the owner of the Dream Café in Penticton, a noted entertainment venue.
“I want to increase the product quality,” he says of membership in Sayso. “I want to make it a bit nicer place to go.”
“If you’ve got some ideas, where are you going to share them?” asks Juricic.
However, those evenings, which mainly consisted of Nicola Valley residents performing music, came to an abrupt end last summer due to changes in the building’s ownership and management.
Iron Mountain Music has since been rechristened the Culture Club, and Sayso’s signature event, the open-mic session, returns on Friday, May 11. The doors open at 7 p.m.
It will be the first Sayso open-mic since the summer, aside from a hastily organized event in April.
To revive interest in Sayso and reinforce the value of supporting its aims, the society will honour 2011 memberships until the end of next August, says Juricic.
“It’s about really fostering performing arts at a really grassroots level.”
He notes that Sayso covers its costs solely from memberships, ticket sales, and bar sales and does not receive any government grants.
“We don’t have any money coming in from anywhere.”
Tickets for the Tim Hus show are available at Country Bug Books and the Nicola Valley Medical Centre, or by calling 250-315-5673. To encourage early sales, advance tickets will be sold at a discount over those at the door, Juricic says.