Tim Harwill came into music through family.
"I learned to sing and play at the feet of my elder brothers Val and Barney, with brother Val encouraging me to learn to write while brother Barney did his best to teach me to play guitar and sing," said Harwill who was born in Winnipeg, MB. to a family of eight siblings growing up in the Postal District of Harwill, located approximately three hours north of the 'Peg on his family's homestead where his father raised cattle and horses. "They in turn had been influenced (and encouraged) by our uncles Ricky and Louis Thomas, who earned their living playing country music and traveled in road bands throughout most of their lives.
"My first band was formed when I was 15, and we played some pretty desperate rock 'n roll for kids, but my voice was so country that most of our friends told us to go play it.
"I spent some years working for a living while refining my talent and developing the skills necessary to put on a show with an assortment of country bands that crisscrossed the prairies trying to make ends meet until finally stepping out full-time as a touring singer/songwriter in 2001."
While on the road as a performer, Harwill plays at 5th Avenue Cup and Saucer in Yorkton Monday, Aug. 13, he said writers are really who he looks to in terms of influence.
"I count songwriters such as Steve Young, James Talley and Warren Zevon among my primary influences, while stylistically I'm located somewhere between Outlaw Country and Americana music, depending on the size of the crowd and the type of venue," he said. "Having grown up listening to my Dad's radio, where the music of Waylon, Willie, Kris, Hank and Johnny dominated the dial I guess to me that's not much of a surprise.
"I also credit the great aboriginal singer/songwriter Errol Ranville, leader of the C-Weed Band, among my biggest influences, as I spent many nights studying his stage moves as an underage teen in the bars of Winnipeg, and owe him as much as anybody else for my music and this life."
While on the road a lot, Harwill has made his way to the recording studio too, his most recent release being 'A Tribute to Catfish John'
"I began working on the 'A Tribute to Catfish John' album when my good friend, mentor, and brother of the road Catfish John Peterson became fatally ill in the summer of 2009, while I was recording my critically-acclaimed-and-to-be-released-in-2009 album 'The Wander Man Revisited'," he said.
Harwill said the tribute album was a bit of an unusual project, and one deeply personal to him.
"The idea to do a 'tribute' album for a guy that basically nobody outside of the small circle that he had worked with on stage and in the studio had ever heard of seemed pretty crazy at first, but the more that I discussed it with mutual friends and colleagues the more sense it seemed to make," he said. "At least it did to me, and after kicking it around for a year or so after he had passed I was fortunate enough to hit upon a couple of melodies that seemed to fit a few of the many words that had passed between us, and before I knew it I had a few songs written.
"I'm not sure if it was catharsis or gratitude that drove the creation of the songs but as a songwriter I was thrilled with them, however after another half-year of editing I became convinced that I ought to extend the tribute to include John and the generation of musicians responsible for my own career as a working musician by including some of the music that they had played six-nights-a-week-and-four-sets-a-night on stages across the continent. Within six-months after that we had completed recording and only a few months later - February 29, 2012 - we released 'A Tribute to Catfish John' (which I consider to be my finest work so far) on The Sterling Label."
The album is also one where Harwill took greater control of the overall project.
"This was the third album that I've recorded at least partially here in my studio at Thorsby, however it's the first to be recorded entirely here," he said. "As producer and engineer of the recordings the sessions were also some of the most fun that I've ever had, although having been touring primarily solo for the past several years the live-off-of-the-floor recording sessions with the rhythm section were a good bit more crowded than I'm used to.
"Seriously, the biggest difference with the sessions for the 'Tribute' album was the reverence with which the musicians approached their individual parts, as each person on the production delivered a performance that not only rings true but pays tribute to the people who made our lives in music possible."
The dedication the musicians paid to the album makes it special and Harwill said that shows.
"I'm more pleased with 'A Tribute to Catfish John' than I have been with anything else that I've done in music to date," he said. "Comparing this album to my previous efforts is difficult due to the fact that there is very little experimentation going on with this recording, while each of my previous releases have highlighted some specifically experimental approach taken in their production.
"Examples include the entirely acoustic band featured on 2006 release 'All I Really Need', the three-piece electric band without bass guitar used on the 2009 release 'The Wander Man Revisited', and the live-off-of-the-floor acoustic duo featured on 2005's 'Thru The Bottom Of A Glass' album.
"So this recording is less experiment and thus I hope more commercially viable, although having already been told that 'This music doesn't sound like anything or anyone else, and thus we can't play it!' by commercial radio programmers across Canada I can assure you that I'm not holding my breath."
The first single 'Rollin With The Flow' has been released to radio across Canada.