MEDSTEAD — Excitement fills the air of Medstead in anticipation of Canadian fiddle champion Scott Wood’s performance on the evening of May 18.
Advance tickets have been for sale for some time and according to Debbie Dzialo of the local store, folks are looking forward to the event.
Woods took time from his performance preparation in Ontario to speak about his upcoming show and explain his rise to success.
Woods started playing violin at age four. Being the youngest of four siblings, Woods grew up listening to his brother and two sisters playing violin, his dad on the fiddle and mother on the piano.
Scott notes his parents met when his dad’s band was looking for a piano player. Clearly, music is in the genes. Woods says learning to fiddle in the Don Messer style was a reward for practice of classical form.
Woods began competing at old time fiddle contests across the country at age eight, joining the family band at around the same time. The musical family has not been without its hardships. “In 2003, my mom and I were on tour with a show called Memories of Don Messer’s Jubilee,” Woods says.
“My dad was not on tour with us, but he had a heart attack and passed away. Mom and I went back on the road after the funeral and we travelled on our own rather than riding with the band.
“We had a conversation on one of those trips about how she would like to go on a mission. I said that I would rather just play a show to help raise funds for those who are better suited to do that sort of work.
“Mom said, ‘well, let’s take the whole band and do a tour of shows to help churches and charities.’ We did about a dozen shows as fundraisers the following spring and it mushroomed from there.”
From tragedy sprung success, as today Scott Woods and band do about 150 or so shows across Canada and the United States, which are almost all fundraisers.
Woods was born, raised and resides in Fergus, Ont.
In addition to Canada and the United States, they also travel to Europe with their music and will be in Germany once again this coming October.
Woods has studied violin with brilliant teachers over the years, including Eduard Minevich (who recently retired as concertmaster of the Regina Symphony).
“I have never had any formal fiddle lessons, but I have listened to every major fiddler from the past on recordings,” Woods states. “I find it is the best way to learn style tempo, feel and subtle nuances of their playing. My biggest influences in my playing are Don Messer, Al Cherny and Graham Townsend.”
Though the informality may be unique, it has reaped its rewards. The Canadian Open Old Time Fiddle Contest is held each year in Shelburne, Ont. Woods’ great-grandfather was among the top finishers the first few years of the contest (in the early 1950s). Woods started competing there in 1979 and has won many awards over the years.
Woods has not competed since about 2004, though is often asked to adjudicate or sometimes MC the competitions.
This year’s show is brand new and is called Fiddling up a Storm.
“My sister Kendra Norris plays fiddle with me and she also doubles on piano, accordion and vocals,” Woods says.
She also does some comedy, including a tribute to Cousin Minnie Pearl.
Steve Piticco is the band’s guitar player. He has been named the Canadian Country Music Association’s guitar player of the year and instrumentalist of the year.
Drummer Bill Carruthers is a four-time winner of drummer of the year at the CCMAs, He has toured with Michelle Wright, Ronnie Prophet, the Family Brown and even the Kitty Wells Show. Carruthers also provides vocals.
Pete Sisk is bass player. He also sings. He has been the bass player for the past 13 years with Juno Award winning group, the Good Brothers.
“We are pleased to have 13-year-old Leo Stock as our special guest,” says Woods.
Leo is a champion fiddler, a singer and a champion Ottawa-Valley style step dancer.
“His feet go about 100 miles per hour.”
Everyone sings and plays and there is a lot of interaction within the band as well as with the audience.
The show is described as Branson Missouri style. It is two hours of fast-paced scripted entertainment. The band combines fiddle tunes, traditional country music, western swing, some bluegrass and country gospel as well as the step dancing and comedy.
Woods notes that this will be the band’s first time to Medstead. They have been in the Battlefords, Prince Albert, Lashburn, Turtleford and Lloydminster several times in the past.
Sandra Sommerfield, Medstead resident, saw the show last year and reached out to the band to do a local show.