Tim Ross of Wycliffe seems like a character one might find striding through the dusty trails of a Louis L’Amour western, and rightfully so. As a professional grasslands conservation contractor, Ross can say with a straight face that he’s one of the few people left in southeastern British Columbia who still earns his living on horseback.
Long and lean, looking like the mischievous sandy-redhead nephew of Clint Eastwood during his spaghetti western days, Ross’s eyes are sharp yet smiling, and his wry grin is downright infectious. But you’ll find a hollow-bodied Gretsch electric guitar in his hands more often than a breech-loading Sharps carbine, although with either of them he hits the mark dead centre.
He and the Bison Brothers will play at the Snoring Sasquatch on Feb. 22 and the Sirdar Pub on Feb. 23.
“This is our first time playing Creston,” Ross said. “We’ve heard lots of good things about the local support for the arts and music community, and we’re eager to bring our music to this side of the Kootenays.”
Ross’s musical history is as colourful as his personal present. Active since 1980 in a series of larger-than-life roadhouse-rocker bands carrying such names as the Naked Crows and Blair and the Blairs (he can spin wild road tales for hours on end), Ross is a prolific songwriter who has rocked stages from Ontario to Vancouver and back with the educated lyrical earthiness of John Prine and John Hiatt, framed within the roots-rocking blister-country fusion pioneered by folks like Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds. Since the turn of the century, he’s been helming the Bison Brothers (which includes wildman bassist Ferdy Belland and drumming wizard Colin Righton) and has independently released three previous albums, Buffalohead (2005), Blue Sky Green Grass (2006) and Cowboy Museum (2012). Ross’s songs have received strong CBC Radio airplay and considerable critical acclaim.
“We’re busy songwriting for the new album,” said Ross. “Lots of humorous working titles scribbled up on the whiteboard in our rehearsal space. This album will be more on the rocking side of things, whereas Cowboy Museum was more of a western album. It gets hard to pare it down to a workable album length when you realize you might have two dozen strong songs to juggle — but then again, if the Rolling Stones could make Exile on Main Street work, we might just have a double album on our hands before 2013’s through!”
Just don’t call Ross a “country” artist, though; he might start squinting irritably, just like a gunfighter.
“We’re not a country band, not in the current mainstream-radio sense of the term,” Ross explained. “A western band, sure — we even have another set where we do old traditionals like Strawberry Roan and Streets of Laredo — but there’s a lot more influence in our songs from classic rock and rhythm and blues. When we get the engines fired up, we sound much more like the Georgia Satellites or the Mavericks than we do, say, Alan Jackson. But we’d like to end any confusion, so please come on out and see for yourself! We’ll debrief afterwards.”
Tickets to the Snoring Sasquatch concert are $12 in advance at Black Bear Books or Kingfisher Used Books and $15 at the door, which opens at 6 p.m.; the show starts at 7. The Sirdar Pub concert starts at 9 p.m. and has an $8 cover charge.