If you’re a fan of Celtic fiddling, have I got a show for you! The Chocolate Church in Bath will host a performance by Prince Edward Island fiddler Richard Wood and his touring buddy guitarist Gordon Belsher on Jan. 18. For over two decades, Wood has performed all around the world for heads of state and appreciative crowds of fans. He’s also appeared on TV with the likes of fellow Canadian Shania Twain and at Carnegie Hall with The Chieftains.

In a recent phone interview from a hotel on Prince Edward’s Island, the affable fiddler was more than happy to chat about the show and his newest CD (his eighth release). I began our chat by asking him if he gets to perform in Maine a lot.

Wood: We’ve been down many, many times from 2009-10 until now. Usually October is a good time; we’re down on tour through Maine and Vermont and New Hampshire and Massachusetts. And then we also do another tour, depending on the time frame, in the spring. So we go down there twice a year and do a two- to three-week tour wherever we’re going. It’s been amazing and wonderful, yeah.

Q: Have you performed at the Chocolate Church before?

Wood: Yes, we’ve played there once before, but it’s hard to keep track of all the different places that we’ve played down there.

Q: I’m sure it is. You have a new album out now, correct?

Wood: The album just came out a couple of months ago and is called “Unbroken.” It’s a collection of music and tunes that I’ve been working on for quite some time. Over the last four or five years I’ve had people say, “Well, Richard, when are you coming out with a new album?,” and I’ve heard that over and over again. I replied, “When it’s ready, when I feel like I have the music I want to put on it.” For me to go in and bash out a fiddle album with a bunch of traditional tunes and maybe a couple of originals, well, I could do that every year if I wanted to, but from a creative and artistic point of view, it doesn’t really do anything for me.

Q: Have you gotten any feedback on “Unbroken” yet, or is it too soon?

Wood: I’ve had a bunch of reviews done from the album that say, “This is Richard’s eighth album, and it’s the best work that he’s ever done.” Those kind of reviews really reflect on the time that I took to settle down and put the time into what I actually thought in my head and put it out onto the CD. So I’m very excited about it. It is something that over the next year or two we’ll be pumping quite a bit. We’re doing quite a bit of material from the album in our shows, as well.

Q: How would you describe what this new release is like?

Wood: The music comes from traditional Celtic music — which, of course, is what I do — to originals, to funk, to kind of pop, so it’s very worldly music. A lot of different ideas that I had in my head that have been jotted down on notes over the last four or five years. But the main thing is that I didn’t want people saying when this came out that this album “sounds like his last album,” you know?

Q: I do.

Wood: I wanted this album to flow like water. I wanted it to rise and to crash and to be still, as well. There’s an ebb and flow to the material on the album. It takes a lot of time to be able to understand and try to figure out the actual sequence of the album because what I really wanted to do was to make it basically flow like a concert, and I think on this new album we nailed it.

Q: Well, speaking of concerts, what can folks expect from this show in Bath? It’s a duet performance, correct?

Wood: It is a duet performance, yeah, with me and Gordon. We’re going to do a lot of stuff off the new record, of course. We’ll do as much as we can; it’ll be different interpretations of the material, which is really cool. It gives me and Gordy the freedom to kind of take what we did on the album and do some improvisation and do a little bit of elaborating on it, as well. But it’ll be absolutely a mixture of traditional songs, traditional tunes, originals and a whole bunch of new stuff off the album incorporated, as well.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to pass on to the readers of this article?

Wood: Well, just that if you’re looking for an evening of music and of song, to sit back and relax and to forget about your troubles for 2.5 to 3 hours, however long it is, this is the show to come to. It’s going to be magical. It’s a rollercoaster for sure. It’s happy music, and sometimes it’s sad music, but the bottom line is that it makes people live in the moment and forget whatever’s going on in their lives, and they can experience a wonderful time and a wonderful evening of music.

Lucky Clark, winner of a 2018 “Keeping The Blues Alive” Award, has spent 49 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions or suggestions.

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