Whether he’s busking in Costa Rica, recording in Nashville or playing shows at home, Levi Cuss puts the work in working musician.
The singer/songwriter from Red Deer, Alta. had a bit of an unorthodox start to his career, after moving to Costa Rica with his wife and kids. He and his wife had a business and he played guitar on the side.
“I started busking there, it wasn’t very fruitful,” Cuss laughed.
He was always a poet, but the guitar came into the picture around the age of 18. He estimates that he wrote around 160 songs since, always harkening back to his roots as a poet.
“I’m a songwriter, but I probably haven’t recorded enough of it,” Cuss said.
Much of his song writing stems from past adversity.
“For me this whole thing is about overcoming struggle. When I started playing I was petrified. The whole thing about me and music is that when I overcome some fear, I get better musically,” Cuss said. “I practice and I work probably as hard as anybody, but it always seems to be psychological connection, overcoming a struggle in my life like drinking, making trouble when I was a young guy. Every time I overcome some personal thing, the music just seems to get better overnight. It’s a weird thing. It’s like a soul thing I guess.”
Cuss is joining a songwriters round with four singer/songwriters on stage at the 557 Artist block bringing their unique but complimentary talents and voices to Penticton.
Kimberley Macgregor and John Guliak from Edmonton as well as Curtis Phagoo from Red Deer will be joining Cuss on July 22.
“Everybody contributes equally, and everybody works hard,” Cuss said. “I would get a few gigs, and somebody else gets a few and now we are doing 20 gigs in 18 days.”
All of the singer/songwriters come from different styles and origins, but the meshing works well, Cuss said.
“Super complimentary to each other, so it becomes this exciting thing where one night maybe I’m the star, the next night Kim is the star. It depends where you go, but somebody is always loved in these shows,” Cuss said.
Whether he is “hustling” shows (putting them together) or playing them, Cuss is always working on being a full-time musician.
When the Western News caught up with Cuss, he was just finishing firming up details for playing a yoga class in Lacomb, Alta.
“It’s an oddball thing but I did a bunch of shows for this yoga class, they just loved it. I thought it was going to be a disaster, but they loved it,” Cuss said.
His latest album released in 2014, Night Thief, was a big step for Cuss.
Recording in Nashville was a whole different world for him.
“It’s shocking that there were guys who were professional musicians. Guys who come on time, that are prepared. It was just a whole other level,” Cuss said. “These guys are shockingly good, no egos, they just come do the job.”
Night Thief didn’t quite punch through to mainstream popularity, but opened enough doors for him to work full time with his music, Cuss said. Putting on shows, co-ordinating performances and, of course, playing every once and a while.
Tickets for Behind the Grind; Songwriters on Tour are $20 available at the door of the Artist Block.