Nationally acclaimed Canadian violinist Scott Woods presents his high-energy variety show, Scott Woods Old Fashioned Hoedownat the Arden Theater in November.
“It’s a show. It’s all laid out, but it’s very laid back. It’s like big laughkinda cheesy but a lot of fun,” Woods said of his Tuesday, Nov. 8, show.
The two-time Canadian Grand Masters Fiddle Championship winner has honed his technique in all of Canada’s fiddle styles – Celtic, Cape Breton, Acadian, Cajun, French Canadian, Métis, Eastern European and Ukrainian.
One of his most high-profile shows was as concert manager for the musical Memories of the Jubilee of Don Messerwhich toured Canada to soft-seat theaters in 1998 and 2005.
Currently residing in Ontario, Woods is nicknamed the “Flipping Fiddler” for his ability to somersault while playing. Some of his other stunts are playing the violin behind his back or under one leg and stepping on barrels.
“I always do this nonsense. Don’t blink. I only do it once,” Woods said, referring to the stunts.
This uplifting concert celebrates rural life nearly a century ago with lively tunes and family-oriented values. Joining Woods on stage is his sister Kendra Norris, a multi-instrumentalist on piano, accordion and violin. She also won the Canadian Violin Duet Championship with Woods three times.
“I play in the lead and she follows. She instinctively knows where I’m going. Kendra plays from the heart and she’s a bit of a card on stage. She dresses like Minnie Pearl and has these silly expressions,” Woods said.
The sixth-generation champion violinist also ushers in Leo Stock, an 18-year-old singer-drummer and Canadian step-dancing champion affectionately nicknamed “Spaghetti Legs.” Stock recently won the 2022 Open Step Dance Championship at the Ontario Open Fiddle and Step Dance Contest.
“Leo is tall and lean, and his legs go 100 miles an hour. You wonder how he works that way. It’s like a clog and tap dancing, but on steroids. People are constantly amazed at the speed to which he goes.
The third musician on tour is Germain Leduc, an accomplished French-speaking fiddler, recording artist and composer.
“I met Germain during violin and jig competitions. We jammed together. It’s a bit of a genius. Germain knows all the violin tunes. I can’t pin him down. He plays classical, jazz, everything. I can play anything on stage and I’m comfortable no matter what, I know he will follow me.
Woods was the youngest of four children raised in Fergus, a country town an hour north of Toronto. Her father was a violinist, her mother a pianist and together the couple played in a dance band. At age four, Woods began taking classical violin and piano lessons. By the time of his eighth birthday, he was performing in public.
At age 15, Woods got a taste of adventure at an eye-opening violin competition in Carmen, Man. At the time, the teenager had never been outside of Ontario.
“Canada is a big country, but they treated us like family. When you are in Europe, if you travel 2,000 miles, you may be in another country. In Canada, if you travel 2,000 miles, you still feel at home. Now, when I go to Red Deer, there’s a lady who still bakes pies for us. And in Melfort, Saskatchewan, there’s a woman who bakes buns. Everything is very popular.
As a young man, he first enrolled in college to pursue a business degree. Woods was on track to work at his father’s real estate company during the day and perform in the evenings and on weekends. But the scales have changed and performance has become his number one priority.
When COVID-19 hit, canceling all of his contracts, Woods took a job with Freightline trucks hauling nickel from Sudbury mines to Texas, Florida and various southern states.
But the stage remained his “happy place”. Once the pandemic subsided, Woods planned a Canadian tour with family-positive songs.
At the Arden Variety Show, Woods does a recitation of Touch of the master’s hand, a poem that tells the story of a damaged violin about to be auctioned off for a pittance. Then a violinist steps forward and plays the instrument, demonstrating its inner beauty and true value.
He also plays the Jerry Holland instrumental, My home in Cape Bretona traditional Irish waltz performed as a slow lament.
“When I heard it, it brought me back to the reality of what I’m supposed to do with my life.”
Bringing Canadian violin music to Europe, Woods has toured Germany, Holland, Switzerland, Austria and Spain.
“The violin was wonderful. It took me to wonderful places I wouldn’t have gone and introduced me to great friends I wouldn’t have met without the music.
The Tuesday concert begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Arden Theater, 5, rue Sainte-Anne. Tickets start at $52.50. Call 780-459-1542 or online at tickets.stalbert.ca.