At the age of 23, fiddler Richard Wood has already had such prestigious honours as performing for the emperor of Japan and Prince Charles. He has also appeared on Good Morning America and performed with Shania Twain on The Late Show with David Letterman. Wood, who makes his home in Prince Edward Island, is currently sweeping the nation with his lively performances and unique musical styling. His energetic Celtic music is very popular in the East Coast and beyond. Wood believes that people are drawn to it because “it’s got a lot of soul in it.”
While the popularity of Celtic musicians is currently surging, Wood does not feel that he is just part of a trend. Rather, he explains “it’s just been a part of my life.” This makes sense since Wood has been playing the fiddle for over half of his life. But before picking up the fiddle at the age of 11, he was a championship step dancer. Today, his step dancing is combined with his fiddling in an energetic exhibit of his talent.
Indeed, Celtic music is “alive and kicking” on the East Coast. When asked to compare the response from people on the East Coast to people in the Niagara region, Wood explains that in the East, the response is great, but in other areas the applause can be “a little bit more enthusiastic from time to time.” He believes that he gains such a response because in these areas Celtic music is not the norm, as it is in the East. People who are not used to the music can find something that they enjoy within it and discover an appreciation for a new kind of music.
If there is such a difference in response from Canadians, one can only imagine the response of other nations, where Celtic music is virtually unheard. Such was the case in Japan. Wood explains that when he first played a show there, the audience was not used to this type of music and therefore did not seem to “get” it at first. But, by the end of his performance they seemed to thoroughly enjoy it.
One main difference between Wood and other popular fiddlers is that Wood writes much of his own music. He stresses that writing music is a “very important part” of musicianship. While he also performs traditional Celtic pieces, Wood feels that writing his own pieces makes him an “all-around musician.” The motivation to write his music can come from just about anything, whether it is an emotional situation, or a piece that “just kind of comes” to him.
that “just kind of comes” to him.
Wood has played alongside many popular musicians, including Shania Twain and the Chieftans. For his upcoming performance, Wood will be playing with the traditional Irish band, Danu. Having performed with them before, Wood exclaims that they are “a fantastic bunch of musicians … [a] real authentic Irish band.”
Wood’s enthusiasm about his work is clear, and if just speaking with him is any indication, his upcoming show promises to be an energetic and entertaining night.
Richard Wood and Danu are scheduled to play at the Centre for the Arts on Jan. 23.