Corb Lund and the Hurtin' Albertans Biography

Corb Lund's 2007 release Hair In My Eyes Like a Highland Steer

The quick version of this story is "Corb Lund" was a foothills-raised rodeo kid who found compelling urban credibility in the legendary "smalls" playing bass, ultimately exploring his roots playing his own country songs. Plus, live, a few of Willie Nelson's. Don't worry, Willie does the same thing on stage, which is a story for another night.

Why we chat here and now is to talk about ""Hair in My Eyes Like a Highland Steer"", Lund's pretty new one, produced by "Harry Stinson", with guest vocals by "Ian Tyson"and "Ramblin' Jack Elliot", the guy from the Dylan road biography who was friends with Woodie Guthrie and Jack Keroac, gapping the beat wanderers with the plugged-in folkies. This renewed collaborative star power was not so much hired as enthusiastically arranged by all parties, mutual fans excited about making music with their friends, thus we shouldn't forget hat-wearing Albertan Tim Hus (with the striking, dance-floor wife), who did the CB trucker voice on the album. Yes, there's a trucker song, and if you don't get that, you should know that recently in Corb's adopted home city truckers ground traffic to a halt over the opening details of a blooming energy crisis. It's nuts here, ripe for notice!

Corb Lund at the 2006 Canadian Country Music Awards

But more about music. If you're reading this for clues, I have to almost assume you don't know that Corb pleases large crowds on several continents, that his songs are thoughtful and deliberate and full of the nouns describing our actual surroundings, unique to a land of fluke prosperity that allows for a massive, sensitive artist class thriving in our redneck midst. Now, when Corb and I are drunk watching "Deadwood" at 4:13 a.m., that's the last thing on our minds, but the fact is our part of western Canada is uniquely attuned to sides of farm, oil and city life, underlined by Mr. Lund's actual rural roots, which have nothing to do with anything that might make you cringe about processed country music. His songs are viral anthems which bridge social gaps, celebrating the need for sin and sacrament as much as superior horsepower in doomsday scenarios. And his band is terribly helpful with this.

"Kurt Ciesla", for example, plays the echoey standup bass with proud, scary mastery, while Winnipeg's "Grant Siemens", the band's latest catch, is a natural wizard of the hillybilly instruments: banjo, slide, etc. He and drummer "Brady Valgardson", also a native of Lund's Taber, party hard, play with similar intensity. It's a sight.

Corb Lund and Ian Tyson at the 2005 Canadian Country Music Awards

As has been written elsewhere, Lund appreciates the old world before country went completely to shit, remembering its humour and darkness, drinking to its diminishing pantheon of living heroes.

Corb Lund could well turn out to be one of them. More importantly, I know you already really love some of the songs on his new album, it's just that now you should take the time and find them.

Ola, amigo.

- written by Fish Griwkowsky, Excerpt from Encyclopedia of Canadian Country Hallmarks

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