Woods fid­dling his way across Canada

The Southwest Booster - - NEWS - JA­SON KERR SOUTH­WEST BOOSTER

He may have started as a clas­si­cal violinist, but his heart was al­ways de­voted to the fid­dle.

Twenty years later cham­pion fid­dle player Scott Woods has carved out a niche for him­self with the Scott Woods Ju­bilee, a Don Messer trib­ute show com­ing to Swift Cur­rent on June 25th.

“My mom’s grand­fa­ther and I don’t know how many gen­er­a­tions (go­ing) back on her side were old- time fiddlers, and same with my Dad’s side.

“His dad played the fid­dle and it goes back three or four gen­er­a­tions there,” Woods said, when asked about his tran­si­tion to fid­dle.

“I guess it was kind of in­evitable that I was go­ing to end up play­ing old-time fid­dle. It was a nat­u­ral tran­si­tion.”

Woods said clas­si­cal mu­sic was al­ways a means to an end, and that end was the fid­dle.

Since his early days per­form­ing in Kiwanis Mu­sic Fes­ti­vals he has be­come a Cana­dian Open and Grand Mas­ter Fid­dle Cham­pion, while head­ing up his own group called the Scott Woods Band.

The band tours ex­ten­sively around the coun­try, do­ing around 150 shows a year, al­most all of them for char­i­ties and church groups, and ev­ery one fea­tur­ing a mu­si­cal trib­ute to Cana­dian fid­dling leg­end, Don Messer of The Don Messer Ju­bilee.

“It’s im­por­tant, I think, for the younger people to un­der­stand the huge im- pact that Don Messer’s show had, es­pe­cially on ru­ral Canada,” said Woods, who calls Messer “the gold stan­dard” for fiddlers.

‘ The farm­ers across the coun­try, the west es­pe­cially, Saskatchew­an, Al­berta and Man­i­toba, they loved Don Messer.”

Messer orig­i­nally started on the ra­dio in New Brunswick be­fore mov­ing to Char­lot­te­town. CBC Tele­vi­sion later picked up his va­ri­ety show, where it was in­cred­i­bly suc­cess­ful un­til it was can­celled in 1969.

Messer played mostly tra­di­tional Ir­ish and Scot­tish folk tunes, but in his own unique style.

“It was a very unique sound and I think that’s why it was so pop­u­lar,” Woods ex­plained. “People tried to cap­ture that same thing.”

Woods clearly reveres Messer, and he loves to per­form.

He first started tour­ing pro­fes­sion­ally in 1986, start­ing as a guest artist at fes­ti­vals.

Af­ter he spent some time with the show “Mem­o­ries of Don Messer’s Ju­bilee,” Woods’ fa­ther died of a heart at­tack. Af­ter­wards, as his mother be­gan to de­vote her­self to char­ity and aid work, he be­gan per­form­ing more for churches and char­i­ties, us­ing his gift for en­ter­tain­ing to help fi­nan­cially sup­port her and oth­ers like her.

“I said, ‘okay, that’s good.

“I’m not in a po­si­tion in my life that I would want to do that just yet, but maybe one day,” Woods re­mem­bered. “I said, ‘ if it was me I’d prob­a­bly just play a show, raise some money to help the people at the church who are go­ing to do this mis­sion and build a school or what­ever they’re do­ing over there,’ and she said, well, why don’t we take the band and go and do some shows.”

That was 2003, and for most of that year he played in churches and halls in south­ern On­tario. Now he per­forms in up to 150 con­certs a year around the coun­try, and this time he’s bring­ing some mem­bers from the orig­i­nal Messer trib­ute show.

“It’s a smaller ver­sion of what we had done be­fore, but ba­si­cally it’s a lov­ing trib­ute to the stars of Don Messer’s Ju­bilee,” he said.

Cape Breton singer Tommy Lead­beater and vo­cal­ist Lynda Lewis will join the show, singing the songs made pop­u­lar by Messer’s part­ners, Char­lie Cham­ber­lain and Marg Os­borne.

An­other Messer con­tem­po­rary, tele­vi­sion an­nouncer Don Tre­maine, lends his voice to the show, pro­vid­ing the open­ing in­tro­duc­tion.

“I ac­tu­ally went to his house in Halifax in Fe­bru­ary and had a great chat,” Woods said.

“He recorded the in­tro­duc­tion to our show for us, and I have his pic­ture up on the screen, so it’s a real fun cou­ple of hours.”

Woods and his guests do mix things up a lit­tle bit each time they play to give au­di­ences a rea­son to come back.

He also still does his trick fid­dling, which earned him the nick­name “The Flip­ping Fid­dler” thanks to the sum­m­er­saults he does while still play­ing.

“Sev­eral people have seen us in the past and they of­ten ask if I’m still do­ing my trick fid­dling rou­tine, and the an­swer is yes, I still do,” he said.

“It’s a de­par­ture from Don Messer for sure, but near the end of the show I play be­hind my back and un­der my legs with the fid­dle and I do a back­wards sum­m­er­sault… it’s kind of a fun mo­ment in the show.”

Woods is no stranger to Swift Cur­rent, hav­ing per­formed here mul­ti­ple times be­fore, and he said he’s look­ing for­ward to mak­ing the trip thought town again.

The per­for­mance is sched­uled for 7 p.m. at the Royal Cana­dian Legion on June 25th.

Tick­ets are $ 25 for adults and $ 10 for chil­dren and are avail­able at the Legion.

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