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Paying tribute to the fiddle masters

That Scott Woods will be  playing a fundraising concert at a church in St. Jacobs is the result of  a happenstance about eight years ago. That he’ll be playing the fiddle is something that happened naturally many years earlier. That he’ll be paying tribute to some of the legends of the instrument, well, that just comes with the territory. Woods, whose band performs Apr. 14 at Calvary United Church, came to music at an early age: his dad, Merv, had his own band starting back in 1944. His mom, Carolyn, joined the Merv Woods Orchestra in 1956 as a piano player, eventually becoming Mrs. Woods in 1960. The couple had four children – Elizabeth, Kendra, Bruce and Scott – all of whom studied classical violin and piano and performing with the band by the time they were eight years old.

Suffice it to say Scott Woods was immersed in music. So much so, in fact, that as a kid he used to cue up albums or cassettes of fiddle music when he went to bed, , letting the music sink in as he drifted off to sleep.

“I think I picked it up subliminally. I didn’t always know the name of the song – you’re not really taking in the details at that point – but I certainly learned a lot,” he said in a telephone interview this week from his Fergus home, having just arrived back from yet another tour.

Multiple award-winning fiddler Scott Woods will be channeling some of the greats when his new show, Fiddle Legends, takes the stage next weekend at Calvary United Church in St. Jacobs. [submitted]

“I’ve got all sorts of music in my head … that I learned that way.”

Having been inspired by the likes of Don Messer, Al Cherny, King Ganam, Graham Townsend and Ward Allen, putting together his newest show – Fiddle Legends – seemed like a natural fit.

“These are the guys who inspired me. These are the real pioneers in fiddling.”

Paying tribute to Messer, a much-loved Canadian icon, is nothing new to Woods. Starting in 1998, he spent seven years playing the part of  Messer in Memories of Don Messer’s Jubilee, a tribute show that toured the country from coast to coast.

It was near the end of that stint, while continuing to play with the family band that now contains the third generation of Woods, that he became involved in concerts organized specifically as fundraisers for churches, charities and community groups. Following the death of his father in late 2003, Woods’ mother said she might spend more time doing more mission trips.

“I remember talking about that, and I said, ‘if it was me, I’d probably do a show somewhere instead to help them raise money.’” From that suggestion came 12 or 15 fundraising shows in 2004 as something of an experiment.

“It kind of caught on. The word spread,” Woods recalled.

In 2005, the Scott Woods Band did 85 such shows. In 2006, 160 concerts. Today, they try to keep that to about 150 shows a year, 99 per cent of which are fundraisers.

It’s been a great fit for Woods, who’s 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. As well, he’s won competitions and performed throughout Canada, the United States and Europe.

Next weekend’s show at Calvary United will be a real family affair, with Woods joined by his mother Carolyn (piano), sister Kendra (fiddle, clarinet, saxophone, accordion, vocals), nephew Ben (drums, fiddle, guitar, bass, mandolin) and 17-year-old Kyle Waymouth, who, along with bass, drums and fiddle, will be leading a very physical step-dancing performance.

“There’s going to be a lot of energy. It’s just a fun, family show,” said Woods.

The Scott Woods Band take to the stage at Calvary United Church Apr. 14 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 ($10 for children), available from the church office (10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday-Friday) at 48 Hawkesville Rd. Call 519-885-5012 or 519-669-5912 or visit www.calvaryunited.com for more information.

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