Rick Scott says he’s never heard of a dulcimer player performing at a jazz festival before. This weekend, the renowned local folk musician could be the very first one.
Scott will be performing at the inaugural Nanaimo International Jazz Festival alongside Nico Rhodes, a musical director and jazz pianist. The pair met when Rhodes arranged the music for a symphony show of Scott’s music. From there they started playing together and after a brief eight-stop tour they spent a day in the studio and came out with Roots and Grooves, a collection of Scott’s music over the years reimagined by the pair’s collaborative vision.
“We started just playing music together and just decided it was so much fun and so interesting to have two completely different approaches to music and [Rhodes] was fascinated by my tunes because they kind of defy a lot of description, but they’ve got a lot of groove in them and they are the roots of my career as a musician and I think that’s why it’s an appropriate title for what we’re doing,” Scott said.
“Nico is just a joy to play with. He’s found new things in these old tunes that make them new and I never really thought that I would revisit those songs again. I thought, ‘You’ve done it, you move on, you keep going forward,’ but they have changed so much under our interpretations. They are pretty new tunes now for me.”
Rhodes calls the project “the culmination of a story that goes back over two decades,” as the 27-year-old grew up listening to Scott’s music and even sent him fan mail as a child.
“Fast forward 20-some-odd years, and I get [the] privileged honour of sharing the stage with this musical tidal wave,” Rhodes said in an e-mail.
“The guy oozes music, groove and feeling. He’s steeped in old, swampy music and playing with him brings out a side of my musical self that I never even realized was there. He takes a classically trained jazzer and shakes me up. I like to think we shake each other up and that ultimately the audience gets to come along for the good times.”
Scott said he and Rhodes were invited to play at Jazz Fest after an organizer caught one of their performances. The duo will take to the stage at the festival finale on Sunday (Sept. 17) at the Port Theatre. As the festival is in its first year, Scott expects it to be unpredictable and exciting.
“I’ve played festivals all across Canada and I can tell you usually the first one is the one that everybody’s kind of flying by the seat of their pants, nobody really knows what’s going to happen and because of that a lot of magic happens,” he said.
“And as the festival grows up and gets older … it’s like anything middle-aged. It’s not as crazy and as wild and it’s kind of moved into a routine and it’s a little more polished it’s a little more predictable, you might even say. But the first one, wild times are going to happen and I think that’s what’s going to happen here.”
For a schedule of events at this weekend’s jazz festival, see page B6 or visit www.nanaimojazzfest.ca.