Afternoon music for kids

WHITE ROCK – The last time Rick Scott was here in town, he recorded a video with Pied Pumkin at Blue Frog Studios.

“Nothing really happened with that, other than a couple of videos posted online,” Scott said of the experience in 2012 with fellow folkies Shari Ulrich and Joe Mock. “We just wanted to document ourselves, because we hadn’t done it. You know, Pied Pumkin is kind of a ghost ship, because we appear out of the mists and then return,” he added with a laugh.

This time around, Scott brings his dulcimer-fueled songs to Coast Capital Playhouse on Friday, Jan. 3 for an afternoon concert aimed at kids.

Scott, who lives on Protection Island near Nanaimo, has been performing for children for close to 35 years – on and off for the first few years before he got serious about it in 1989.

“I had an epiphany with that one,” he said. “I guess I started remembering what inspired me to play music. I remember my dad took me to New York City and we saw Mary Martin do Peter Pan, and it just blew me off the map. I just knew that whatever was happening there with the audience, the orchestra pit and what was on stage, I wanted to be in on it, and so that kind of set my course from that point on. So in the late 1980s, I realized that there are a lot of kids wondering what’s going on in the world and some of them are going to go, ‘Wow, music is going on,’ and that maybe I could be the one showing them that.”

He’s earned several awards for his kid-focused music, including a Western Canadian Music Award in 2013 for Children’s Recording of the Year (The Great Gazzoon: A Tall Tale With Tunes And Turbulence).

It’s not easy to make music for kids, Scott underlines.

“That’s a big misconception out there – that it’s just for kids, it must be easy,” Scott said in a phone interview. “In a lot of ways, it’s a much tougher road to hoe than playing for adults.”

There’s a certain level of honesty that performers must have with kids, Scott added, “because they have serious issues and sometimes they trust the performer enough to broach them. They ask me questions and sometimes it’s, ‘How did you get to be so funny?” Well, I answer that truthfully and tell them that I had a lot of pain when I was a child, that I lost my mom, and the grownups would look at me and stare at me and I hated that, so I would deflect them with humour, with jokes I made up and with pratfalls. I’d do anything that get away from that uncomfortable situation. I tell kids that.”

Scott has had some “miraculous” moments with kids, and with adults, too.

“I’m lucky in that I get to play both sides of the court, and also do some acting gigs.”

Scott recently completed a 14-day tour of B.C. with four of his dulcimers along for the trip, in a special tribute to his old friend J.R. Stone.

“He died this year, so I decided to take him on tour with me and kind of talk about him and his craft,” Scott said. “He comes from the hills of North Carolina, so he’s a bit of a hillbilly, and during his final two weeks I went down there to be with him. So those shows included some emotional things in them.”

Scott first me Stone when he walked into Stone’s music store in Annapolis, Maryland, in 1969.

“There was a dulcimer hanging on the wall,” Scott recalled. “I had no idea what it was so I stood there staring at it. He came out from the back workshop and stared at me, I asked what it was and he said, ‘Why don’t ya try it,’ and so I did, and that was that. We became fast friends, and he and I came to Canada in 1970 and we set up a little shop in Pender Habour. He stayed here for about five years, but the rain got to him and he missed his hill country, so he went back but we stayed close over the years. I visited him many times. I have about eight of his dulcimers.”

Scott’s performance Friday in White Rock begins at 3 p.m. Tickets are $10 via 604-536-7535.

“If a show is for kids, I do approach it differently,” Scott said. “I mean, kids aren’t all that interested in just sitting there and watching me perform – they want to do it, get involved, so I make those shows very participatory. If they’re not singing with me within the first 30 seconds of me starting the show, then I’m in trouble. I don’t want to say those shows are carefully paced, but there’s no dead air.”