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Silly songs and electric snowshoes

Children’s entertainer Rick Scott back in town



Who: Rick Scott with the Whistler Children’s Chorus

Where: MY (Millennium) Place

When: Saturday, May 1

Tickets: $13-$18

Recently, a grown woman approached Rick Scott and asked him to clarify a rather obscure word from a tune he had performed on a visit to her school when she was a little girl.

"I was just so honoured to hear that it stuck to her brain like peanut butter," the jovial children’s entertainer enthuses.

It’s these types of encounters the performer says confirm that he’s "on the right trail." Another is when parents tell him that his albums are mandatory for any long car trips.

"Harmony in the home, peace in the car – that’s all you can ask for," Scott says sagely.

He speaks for parents with authority because he’s one himself. Dad to six, granddad to six more, the Appalachian dulcimer-playing performer from Protection Island (also known as a member of adult folk trio Pied Pumkin) has plenty of firsthand experience with his target audience, both on stage and off, over the course of his 30-year performing career.

"Kids like to groove," says Scott. "They really like a good funky beat, something they can hop around to. At some of my concerts now we have what we call ‘the world’s smallest mosh pit.’ They just get up and start dancing around. It’s really quite wonderful."

Along with the groove, kids take to Scott’s trademark silly humour – something he says has inspired him since his own childhood days spent listening to the radio.

"Flying Purple People-Eater is one of the greatest songs ever written," he says, not a trace of sarcasm in his voice.

Favourite tune notwithstanding, Scott has no need to dress up like a Flying Purple People-Eater, a purple dinosaur or anything else to keep kids entertained. The strange and wonderful Appalachian dulcimer (or electric snowshoe, as he’s fond of calling it) continues to fascinate on its own, even in this age of video games and computer animated DVDs.

He’ll let anyone who shows a genuine interest have a go. He’s especially excited about his recent dulcimer workshops for special needs children, specifically those with Down’s syndrome, a group for whom Scott is an active and outspoken advocate.

His other recent special interest is a cross-cultural project with Chinese children’s entertainer Harry Wong.

The duo met at a Hong Kong children’s festival. A big fan of Scott’s music and the dulcimer, Wong hatched an idea for a recording/concert performance integrating English and Cantonese songs with a story based on the ancient Chinese philosophy of the five elements. While it sounds a bit obscure, Scott describes the show as "accessible to everyone," and a recent performance in a Richmond school showed him firsthand how much potential the material has to bridge cultural differences.

At the same time, Scott has to admit that whether born in Burnaby or Bangkok, kids are kids.

"They’re constantly trying to solve the mystery of life," he muses.

Tomorrow night, he’ll get Whistler’s mystery-solvers bouncing to his buoyant tunes when he takes the stage at MY Place. He’ll be accompanied by the beautifully trained voices of the Whistler Children’s Chorus junior and intermediate ensembles.

"I’m really excited about coming up there," Scott adds. "It’s one of my favourite places. The choir work I’ve done up there has been very inspirational to me. It’s a riot, I just love it."

Rick Scott’s show is set to begin at 7 p.m. An autograph reception follows, with juice and treats. Tickets are $18 for adults, $13 for kids.

For more information call 604-935-8410 or go to www.whistlermillenniumpl.com.

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