Fans of old-time fiddling music won’t want to miss the exemplary skills of Canadian award-winning fiddler Scott Woods.
He and his band bring the ‘Old Time Jubilee’ to the Sunnybrook United Church on May 29th. Proceeds from the show will help support youth programs at Kasota East Camp. Showtime is 7 p.m.
Woods and company will deliver an authentic live tribute to Don Messer’s Jubilee – one of the most popular TV shows in Canadian history that wrapped production back in 1969.
The concert also reunites Cape Breton tenor Tommy Leadbeater (as Charlie Chamberlain) with Canadian Grand Master Fiddle Champion Woods (as Don Messer) and features the vocals of Lynda Lewis (as Marg Osborne) in a masterful performance honouring the days when Messer and his Islanders ruled the airwaves.
Woods was part of a Messer tribute show for several years some time ago before heading out and developing his own productions. But the lure of Messer’s magic was never far from mind.
“It’s 45 years since Don Messer’s Jubilee was cancelled on CBC back in 1969,” explains Woods during a recent chat. “Ever since 2005, since I started doing my own shows across the country, people have said to me why don’t you and Tommy get together another Don Messer tribute?
“So we decided that this year we would try and do something to, first of all, commemorate the people that do remember Don Messer’s Jubilee and rekindle those fine memories of a simpler time in life when families would gather around the old television set, tune in and listen to their favourite fiddlers.”
Woods, having been born in 1970, of course didn’t experience the tunes of Messer firsthand, but it’s a tradition he has grown passionate about sharing over the years.
“We try and introduce people to what was a huge phenomenon in our Canadian history and cultural heritage. Don Messer’s Jubilee, for 10 years on CBC, had one of the highest ratings in the history of Canadian broadcasting. And in 1964, the show actually had higher ratings than Hockey Night In Canada.
“It’s important for the people who don’t know that name for us to help keep that music alive and introduce it to the younger folks.”
The show delights audiences of all ages with old-time fiddle music, sensational step dancing, trick fiddling, lots of humor and more. Woods’ connection to the legacy of Messer runs deep.
“I have had the opportunity to meet and even play with some of the original members of Don Messer’s Jubilee. Don Tremaine was the host on CBC television. I worked with Mr. Tremaine on a touring theatre production called Memories of Don Messer’s Jubilee in 1998. During that tour, I also performed with Vic Mullen, five-string banjo player from the original show.
“Fiddler Graham Townsend was also part of that presentation.”
Often, folks will approach him after a show and explain that although they weren’t specific fans of the genre growing up, they treasure memories connected to the music. And over the years, they’ve become fans themselves.
“Fond memories can be triggered once they hear the tunes,” he explains. “That’s the best compliment I could ever get – someone who isn’t a fiddle fan or a Don Messer fan – to say ‘Wow, I loved it’. It’s happy, fun music. No one can be depressed and listen to a fiddle tune.”
Meanwhile, Woods is a mesmerizing genius when it comes to offering up all kinds of fiddling styles, and he’s garnered loads of awards to prove it.
He had an early start delving into music beginning his studies in classical violin at age four. The training has been critical to his development as an artist, but he always had a penchant for the old-time styles that were so familiar to him growing up.
During his high school years, he’d practice six or seven hours a day. Then his post-secondary studies took him in a different direction – business and marketing. He’s grateful for those skills as they’re such a help with his career, but music is and has always been at the forefront.
And he’s a blast to watch on stage – this guy can turn somersaults and step dance while playing the fiddle.
He also plays lots of other instruments, but the fiddle remains his favourite no matter what particular genre he’s studying — classical, jazz, big band, country, swing, Celtic, or old time music.
For Woods, playing for the folks in every community and meeting them after the shows are definite highlights. Many treat him and the band like family, bringing gifts and even providing homemade pie for a post-show treat.
“We play for such great people. Whether it’s a church, a service club or a charity that is raising money for the community, they are excited that you are coming and they bend over backwards for you,” he says.
“We have so much fun, and it’s just like family. And we are playing music that I totally understand and that I’m completely passionate about. That’s what keeps my energy up, and the band is the same way – they love the music, and they all grew up listening to it.”
For more information or tickets, call the Sunnybrook United Church office at 403-347-6073 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.