Canada’s music is as diverse as its people, and Scott Woods is travelling the country to demonstrate that the same is true for fiddling.
The Ontario fiddler and his band are in the midst of their cross-Canada “Fiddling in the Key of ... Eh?” tour and will be making a stop at the Lashburn Community Hall in Lashburn, Sask. on May 18.
“We discovered that what we thought Canadian fiddling was very different depending on what part of Canada you were from,” he said. “I guess, almost like a dialect has a certain accent to it, fiddle styles also have this sort of ancestral dialect that comes out in the style of the way they play the fiddle.”
Woods guesses that this is his 35th time playing across Canada since he first toured with his family’s band in 1986 at the age of 15. He has witnessed how regional fiddle styles have changed over time and has chosen to highlight these differences in the new tour.
“Sometimes (fiddlers) play the exact same tunes, but if they’re Scottish or Irish or French or MÃ©tis or Ukrainian or German, whatever their background is they’ll play those exact same tunes very differently because of that ancestry of their fiddle groups,” he said. “So we decided that this year for a brand new show that we wold explore those different styles ... of what we call Canadian fiddling.”
The tour is taking Woods and his band to smaller towns outside of bigger communities, for example playing in Lashburn instead of Lloydminster, because his music speaks to a more rural audience. Aside from fiddling, his shows feature singing, step dancing and some acrobatics.
“I think what’s happening is because of the Internet and because of ease of world travel there’s a bit of a melting pot and the fiddle styles tend to all come together,” he said. “Years ago they were very distinct, but now Cape Breton fiddlers meet up with MÃ©tis fiddlers, and they meet up with French fiddlers, so they end up playing each other’s styles and pretty soon they mold and melt and the next thing you know, they’re not as distinct anymore. So we’re just trying to make sure that those roots are still observed.”
Woods hopes that by exhibiting the cultural influences of Canadian fiddling, the younger members of the audience will become intrigued and want to learn more about the history behind the music.
“It’s just our way of opening the door for the younger generation,” he said. “We’re not trying to say this is an expert opinion on all of the styles but it is as authentic as we can make it in the hope that the younger generation will remember and carry on these traditions.”