If you like fiddle music then you should be in for a treat as Scott Woods hits the Legion Hall in Yorkton with a show which is a tribute to the great fiddle players of the past.
“We play old time music for sure – the way an old time dance band would – melodic, lyrical but with the underlying groove of a dance band. Within that genre, we will play Scottish, Irish, Ukrainian folk melodies, as well as country songs, with vocals, gospel music, pop standards and we always feature some championship Canadian Step Dancing,” he said.
“I will do my trick fiddling routine as well – where I play with a broom or coat hanger instead of a bow, play under my legs or behind my back, play while walking on a barrel (while playing Roll out the Barrel) and doing a front running somersault while playing – hence my nickname the Flippin’ Fiddler.”
The diversity within the show is a natural for Woods who said his own musical tastes are quite eclectic.
“I listen to all kinds of music. Everything from jazz, classic rock, bluegrass, traditional country, western swing, gospel, blues – you name it,” he said, adding, “our shows represent the variety of musical styles that I like and incorporate those influences into our arrangements.”
Music also runs in Wood’s veins.
“My dad studied classical violin when he was a kid,” he said. “In 1944, when he was 12, he put a band together to play a fund raising dance for the local schoolhouse. The band has continued ever since. He hired my mom in 1956 to join the band as the piano player – that’s how they met.
“Mom still plays piano in the band today.”
So it was natural for Scott to take up music.
“I am the youngest of four kids – we all took classical violin lessons and joined the family band around age seven or eight,” he said.
“In the mid-1980s dad pushed me to ‘front’ the band taking on the role as band leader, and M.C. He started then booking it as the Scott Woods Show.
“Over the years we gradually shifted from playing old time dances -- playing everything from fiddle tunes, to country to big band -- to doing concerts in a theatre setting.
“Today we still play some of that dance music from the big-band era along with country, gospel, western swing and of course lots of fiddle tunes.”
While more of a fiddle player today, Woods is classically trained too.
“When I was four and started taking classical violin lessons, I learned all the techniques typical of the classical training – scales, studies, exercise – all the stuff that no kid really wants to practice. But my dad knew that training was important and so he would reward us for practicing that technique with fiddle tunes- in the style of Don Messer. That was the fun stuff – and the reason we all still play today.”
And the music has remained a family thing for the Woods.
“My oldest sister Elizabeth does not travel with the band but still performs when we are close to her home in the Ottawa Valley. My next sister, Kendra, performs with the band in Ontario. She is a schoolteacher and cannot travel outside the province during the school year. My brother Bruce has toured with us many times playing drums and fiddle. He is not on our current tour, but he does play with other bands locally when he is not on the road with us.”
Woods and his show have toured extensively, including the upcoming show in Yorkton May 14.
“We tour each year across North America – around 175-200 days on the road each year,” he said. “This year we have already been in 10 different states and will be in most of the provinces before the end of September. We have played small barn dances to large 5,000 seat auditoriums and even performed on a raft in the Elora Quarry as part of the Elora Festival.
“Most of our shows now are soft-seat theatre style shows and about 95 per cent are fundraising concerts for churches, charities, community organizations etc. It is a real blessing for us to be able to travel and play the music we love and to help out those communities along the way.”
In between tour dates Woods is in the recording studio.
“I have been recording my own CDs - and CDs for others since 1996,” he said. “My studio is a 32-track digital studio located at my house.
“I have done several albums for other fiddlers in the past and other artists besides fiddlers, so being an artist and producer/engineer is a very good combination for me.
“The energy that you feel on stage is certainly a boost to your performance and it is always a challenge to get the same feel in the studio. However the perfection and accuracy in the studio is much easier to achieve – so it is really about finding a good balance.”
In terms of recordings, Woods said they are reflective of his show.
“Our CDs are primarily traditional tunes,” he said. “I have only written a few dozen fiddle tunes myself, but I do arrange all the music for the CDs along with help from my sister, Kendra and my mom, Carolyn. We present the music in an old time style and choose tunes that are catchy and would appeal to the non-fiddle fans.
“Even as a fiddle player I need to hear lots of variety in my recordings and shows. We always have a full band backing up the fiddle(s) and often have several harmony fiddles and other instruments.
“We have 15 CDs now and they are all different but are all old time music. It is tough to be new and different yet still be in the style we are known for. We do a new CD about every year and since our show changes every year, we usually have the album correspond to the new show theme.”
And the pattern of being on the road and in the studio will continue.
“We are already working on our 2013 show and CD which is called ‘Swingin’ Fiddles’,” he said. “It will feature three fiddles in harmony and we will play more of that big-band and swing, Dixieland and jazz music mixed with western swing and country. We will also incorporate traditional fiddle tunes in the three-part harmonies.
“It will be music that is very interesting from the melody point of view as well as the chord progressions and harmonies. It will be truly music that I love to play. We will throw in some real fancy tunes as well. “The Swingin’ Fiddles show will tour across Canada in 2013 as all of our shows have for the past several years. I think I have toured western Canada at least 25 times already. Our tour bus pretty much knows its own way across the country by now.”