Timothy Hay
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Timothy Hay

Chicago, Illinois, United States | INDIE

Chicago, Illinois, United States | INDIE
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While most local musicians fine-tune their craft in garages, basements, and bars, Timothy Hay developed his music in isolation by a campfire as a 20-year backcountry guide. Finally ready to return to civilization (Chicago) and record, The Timothy Hay Wreckerd sounds like — well, what you’d expect. The folk/country/ blues tracks are light on lyrical depth, simple on instrumentation (mostly guitar and harmonica), and big on rootsy Americana. It’s the perfect album to listen to — where else? — by the campfire.
– Carter Moss - Illinois Entertainer


by J.T. Morand

Tim Severns has brought his ski lodge/campfire music home from the West and is hoping to kick it around Chicago a little while longer before heading into the sunset again.

Anyone who likes good storytelling and that mishmash of country, folk and bluegrass with a rock and blues base will want to check out the Class of 1984 Deerfield High School graduate, who sings and plays harmonica. He's playing every Saturday night at 9 p.m. in November and December at Red Star Tavern in Deerfield and will play at 9 p.m. at The Alley in Highwood.

He also has a 12-song CD out titled "The Timothy Hay Wreckerd," available from iTunes, myspace.com/timothydavidseverns and most other download sites.

Severns is a relative late bloomer to performing live.

After attending the University of Utah, he stuck around the West and worked as a river guide and a member of a ski patrol. He later owned his own guide service.

He began playing the harmonica around the campfire with his clients, some of whom brought guitars along with them.

"That's when I really started to perform in front of people," he said. "You could definitely hear coyotes howling in the background."

Since the coyotes responded favorably, he began to perform with other musicians in saloons and ski town pubs in Colorado, Montana, Utah and Wyoming. Severns also began writing songs with a college friend, Dave Seiger, after the two ran into each other one summer.

Severns' songs and Severns-Seiger collaborations fill "The Timothy Hay Wreckerd," which was dedicated to Seiger, who died suddenly from a heart attack at age 42. Severns didn't collaborate with anyone for at least a year after his friend's death.

"He was the first person I started writing songs with," Severns said.

But, two summers ago, Severns packed in the guide business and returned to Chicago to record "The Timothy Hay Record." Some of the recording was also done in Utah.

Surprisingly, there's not a melancholy song on the disc. Even songs with the titles of "Ain't Seen My Baby," "At The Bar Again" and "I'll Never Miss You" are upbeat.

"At The Bar Again" captures that kind of hippie spirit that seems abundant around ski towns, where responsibility is for squares. It's slow and psychedelic sounding, with Severns' vocals and harmonica sounding far away. It's easy to imagine The Dude from "The Big Lebowski" hanging onto the bar.

Severns said he and Seiger wrote it from the perspective of a guy "on his way out," like the guy they called Jimmy the Dead Head.

"Maybe that's where the psychedelic vibe comes from," he said, adding, "That's Dave's guitar. Definitely. It's most like how the demo sounded."

"I'll Never Miss You" stands out among the rest because it's more of a hard-driving rock song, which Severns said was influenced by Social Distortion and the Stranglers. It starts with a distorted, thumping bass before going into a fast-paced and growling chorus. The song highlights Severns' writing ability with lyrics like "Keep on telling me not to wipe my mouth on my sleeve/But I'll never miss you 'cuz I'll never leave."

Songs "Momma's New Handyman" and "The Garbage Man" are what you might expect--about guys who do more than perform menial labor where the ladies are concerned--but Severns and Seiger were good at sprinkling the songs with cynicism and double-entendres so the listener will say, "So that's what they mean!" the second, third, fourth time around.

"Songwriting has always been my stronger suit," Severns said, adding he's begun writing a second album and plans to audition for labels around Chicago next.

- Pioneer Press


This Wreckerd is all over the place as far as genre, bouncing back and forth from blues to folk and everything in between. However, this roots cavalcade hits all the right spots to make an interesting record. With over a dozen players featured, the record becomes epic in scope. My favorite track, blues tune “I Ain’t Seen My Baby,” is simple in structure, but the clacking of spoons and the army singing back-up in perfect cadence is very entertaining. The folk songs don’t hold my interest as well as the bluesier songs, and to be honest, they get pretty inane, but some of the spot-on vocal harmonies deserve a mention. That being said, the vocals could have been more polished in other parts. I was most impressed with the musical prowess displayed on the harmonica, the slide guitar and other common roots instrumentation. With everything here, I’ve got to wonder what the live show is all about. –James Orme

- Salt Lake Underground


Discography

The Timothy Hay Wreckerd!
(2009)

Photos

Bio

Heeding Horace Greeley’s time honored advice, Timothy David Severns lit out for Western skies upon completion of high school and over the course of 20 years became one of the Four Corner region’s premiere backcountry guides. Surprisingly, despite the geographical isolation, he was able to nurture his lifelong passion for music as both a singer and a harmonica player. Playing to coyotes and campfires, he began to develop his own unique musical style, often crafting songs inspired by the colorful characters he encountered while traversing the crossroads and lost highways of the American West. Graduating from the campfire, he began performing in small town saloons and ski town pubs in Wyoming, Montana, Colorado and Utah with a variety of blues, country, roots, bluegrass and rock ensembles. Reacquainting himself with an old college friend, Dave Seiger while visiting Park City, Utah, he began to concentrate on writing and performing original material. Performing as a duo, Seiger and Severns played to acclaim including several high profile appearances at the Sundance Film Festival. Dave’s sudden passing from an undisclosed heart condition tragically ended their musical endeavor necessitating Timothy leaving his beloved mountains and canyons to continue his musical vision elsewhere. Timothy returned to his ancestral home, a city, not coincidentally, with a rich musical heritage: Chicago. Quickly immersing himself in the vibrant local music scene, he was befriended by many of the Windy City’s finest musicians and began their enlistment to record an album. Off all the new found alliances none were more important than multi-instrumentalist and home studio wizard, Derrick Procell. Forging a musical partnership, Derrick and Tim began to record, edit, mix and master tracks culminating in The Timothy Hay Wreckerd!. Old but new, strange yet familiar, The Timothy Hay Wreckerd! is a genre-bending hodgepodge of American music styles. It is a journey through a mythic landscape populated by the forsaken, the forlorn and the unforgiven; bootleggers, drifters, outlaws and river hobos. Recorded at numerous locations, using a trove of musicians from all over the country and a variety of sources (including some tracks featuring Dave Seiger), The Timothy Hay Wreckerd! is a tribute to America’s rich musical tapestry and those who dedicate their lives adding to it.