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Thursday, 12 June 2014 06:21

Think you have seen everything Scott Woods is about? Think again

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If there’s one thing Atlantic Canadian fiddling great Scott Woods promises: his show is consistent, but always different.

It’s different except he always does that crowd-pleasing trademark summersault which he learned as an adolescent while continuing to play the fiddle.

In southwest Alberta, Woods will be at the Highwood Memorial Centre in High River June 19. On June 21, he's at the Pincher Creek Community Hall and on June 22, he's at the Lethbridge Southminster United Church. All of these shows start at 7 p.m
Woods will also be in Medicine Hat June 23 at the Monarch Theatre at 7 p.m. and June 25 in Swift Current, also at 7 p.m.
Scott Woods Old Time Jubilee has been playing old-time fiddling shows across Canada since the mid-1980s having grown up in an entertainment family.
Woods took over from his dad’s show, The Merv Woods Orchestra, which started performing in 1950 and formed the Scott Woods Band when his dad pushed him to take the reigns in the mid-eighties.
That is a lot of tradition and a lot of shows. In a telephone interview, Woods says he does about 150 per year.
Woods’s show remains enormously popular year after year because it’s different. One would think doing that many shows, for that long a period of time that it would get easy to replicate them and it would become that terrible five-letter word in the show business industry — stale.
However, it doesn’t get boring for his fans and Woods won’t allow it to get old for anyone. If it’s missing the ‘fun’ factor for anyone, including those performing, the show will sink quickly. It hasn’t — not by a longshot.
“We do things differently. There are some consistencies, but we always do a brand new show every tour.”
There’s the old-time fiddling, but each tour has a certain theme and it’s a whole new philosophy each time.
“I have to keep it fun for myself and fun for the band ... we have a fresh look and sound each time.”
Woods says the band itself changes. For example, on this tour, Woods has a completely different band than he had the last tour, however, he has played with each of them previously so the same level of quality is consistently there, it’s just different.
It must work. He cites an example of Red Deer where they have gone to the same church there nine years in a row and have sold out the 350 seats each time.
Woods’s fiance Keri Kaskie, who studied business in university and has a business background, is the tour and business manager. Woods says she has a simple philosophy: don’t worry about the bookings and the business side. Just put on a good show.
“She told me once: ‘It’s my job to get them there, it’s your job to get them to come back,’” says Woods with a laugh.
Woods has fans clamouring to come back with his high level of fiddling ability. His story is well documented. He has played fiddle since the age of four and is able to play any type: classical, Celtic, country, jazz, old-time or big band.
According to his bio, Woods is a two-time winner of the Canadian Open Fiddle Contest, two-time winner of the Canadian Grand Masters Fiddling Championships, and Canadian Fiddle Entertainer of the Year. However, he has won competitions and performed throughout Canada, the United States and Europe.
Woods can still turn somersaults and step dance while playing the fiddle.
For seven years, he was the musical director and played the part of Don Messer in Memories of Don Messer’s Jubilee which toured extensively in Canada.
He pays tribute to them during his shows and those older fans who come out can never get enough.
It’s more than just a fiddling show. Woods maintains patrons, especially families, come back because the show is wholesome entertainment — a throwback to the golden age of television variety shows.
“We’re bring music that can have an impact, something for the enjoyment of everybody,” explains Woods.
“It’s not a religious show, but there’s a gospel element within it. We have silly jokes and it’s just a lot of fun.”
Many of the shows Woods puts on are concert fundraisers for a local charity.
They didn’t start out to be that way, but in 2004 he played such a benefit where there was a split of the costs which went to a local charity.
Woods says they did a dozen concerts like that and raised a few thousand dollars at each.
“Word got around how successful it was and the next year we did 40 and the following year it was 85 and then 165 the next year,” recalls Woods.
“It works great. I mean most of our shows are really a ministry for us in a way ... It’s really a blessing for us to be able to go out and entertain and reach people.”
Woods keeps the show humble, but yet a family atmosphere, just as his dad did decades ago. His mom stopped playing piano, only recently and up to a handful years ago, some of the original band members from his father’s band still played some concerts.
Now, Woods tours with his new group in a bus, which he drives, and they all share in the laundry, making their own meals. Woods tries to eat and ‘nourish his body’ as healthily as possible.
There is a real joy which emanates from Woods. The fact he loves his work, the band loves the shows and the skill level is there, is the makings of a must-see show. Even if patrons have been to a Scott Woods’s show before, he promises it’s the same great show — just different.

Read 7922 times Last modified on Thursday, 12 June 2014 15:24
Ryan Dahlman

Managing Editor