When Scott Woods was four years old, he started learning classical violin. The son of a fiddle player, he practised scales, exercises and other studies.
“That was the boring stuff they teach you,” he said. “My dad would reward us for practising that technique by teaching us a fiddle tune, the fun stuff.”
That practices paid off and have led to a lengthy career in music for Woods, including winning several Canadian fiddle championships and fronting his own band, the Scott Woods Band, which is playing at the United Church on Tuesday, May 29.
Woods father Merv was the leader of the Woods Family band, which he started in 1944 at the age of 12.
In 1956, when Merv was in need of a new piano player, he recruited a woman named Carolyn Dyer. Not long after, the two got married and had four children. They all studied classical piano or violin and all joined the band by the time they were eight. Scott Woods was the youngest sibling.
“We played everything from old time dances to big concerts to classic theatres and everything in between,” he said.
Over the years the band would travel across the country, going to fiddle competitions throughout Ontario, the Maritimes and the Prairies. Woods proved quite adept at the instrument and he would go on to become a two-time winner of both the Canadian Open Fiddle Contest and the Canadian Grand Masters Fiddling Championships. Those summer weekends playing in contests helped keep him going as a fiddler.
“Although we were fierce competitors on the stage, we were best buddies when we came off,” he said. “We pushed each other along, taught each other tunes, jammed and had a good time. That’s why I keep playing now, because that was so much fun.”
In the 1980s Woods took over as bandleader from his father and changed the name to the Scott Woods Band.
I spoke to Woods when he was in Saskatchewan, on his way to a show in Lashburn. He estimated to have toured out west 25 to 30 times in the past 20 years.
His current tour is being billed as the Fiddle Legends tour. Woods said the songs being played will honour the pioneers in Canadian fiddling, “who set the standard and in who’s footsteps I’m following.”
He mentioned Canadian fiddlers Don Messer, Al Cherny and Graham Townsend.
“Those names may not mean anything to you and they may not mean anything to a lot of the general audience but any fiddlers or any country artist would recognize those names from the past,” Woods said. “Those are big names for a lot of the people we play for. The seniors we play for will recognize those names.”
He described his music as “very melodic, very lyrical.”
“It’s a very fun music. It’s hard to be depressed when you hear those tunes.”
Joining Woods on the tour are his mother Carolyn on piano, nephew Ben Norris on drums and step-dancer Kyle Weymouth on bass.
“There’s dancing, there’s fiddling, there’s singing. You don’t have to be a fiddle fan or country fan to enjoy our shows.”
He added that one can expect him to pull out his regular tricks – playing behind his back, under the legs, and a front funning somersault.
The Scott Woods Band plays at the United Church on Tuesday, May 29. The show starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at Talisman Fibre and Trading Co. or by calling 250-837-3198 or 250-200-0398.