Scott Ainslie
Blues guitarist and historian

The Feral Crow

With his new recording, The Feral Crow, Scott Ainslie expands on his previous works: Jealous of the Moon (1995); Terraplane (1998); and You Better Lie Down (2002). Though not a Blues record, The Feral Crow bears all the emotional elements of the Blues–love and loss, compassion and injustice–stunning songs from the voices that are generally lost in the clamor.

In a recent interview Ainslie says,“I’m not changing direction; I’m adding territory. With my extensive work on Robert Johnson and my recent performing and recording history, I am known as a Blues scholar and musician. Before that I was known as an old-time fiddler and banjo player; and before that, a folk musician. For me, the same beauty and themes resonate through all this music. These new songs weave those threads together in a more personal way. They are songs of my life: what I’ve seen and how I see it.”


"The Feral Crow" is, most of all, a creative achievement that aspires to the highest ideals. It's the work of a mature artist whose life experience and musical experience are brought to bear with impressive integrity." -- Jon Potter, December 2004 (read full review)

"Irrespective of Scott Ainslie's reputation in the blues, his new CD The Feral Crow shows that he can also be counted upon as another worthy example of how the current period has become the golden age of singer-songwriters, with new music rivalling anything from the Sixties or Seventies."-- George Graham, December 2004 (read full review)

"Scott Ainslie says with power and precision what so many of us are thinking:
It's time for a change."-- Si Kahn, August 2004


Recorded at NRS Studio in the spring of 2004. Here's what the producer had to say:

"Highly regarded blues artist, Scott Ainslie, embarked on a new and challenging direction for his latest disc, “The Feral Crow”. A collection of his original songs with a gritty political edge. Scott Petito produced and played bass, mandolin and assorted other instruments. Drummer, Jerry Marotta (Peter Gabriel, Paul McCartney) supplied inventive and powerful percussion. Former Suzanne Vega guitarist, Marc Shulman, created evocative and edgy guitar parts. Peter Vitalone added some biting Hammond B3 as well as delicate piano offerings. Vocalist, Leslie Ritter added supportive and smokey backing vocals."

NRS Recording Studio and SP Productions are located in a country setting in Catskill, just minutes from Woodstock, NY. With state-of-the-art digital and analog recording options and a flair for recording and producing acoustic music, Petito has "been quietly amassing an awesome body of fine work, practically creating his own sub-genre of intelligent, adult music," according to the Woodstock Times.

(See below for more on the outstanding musicians on this CD.)

Leslie Ritter has been performing and recording as a singer since 1984. she spent 12 years as half of the duo "Amy and Leslie" and as a session singer has recorded with many wonderful musicians includig james Taylor, Dr. John and Rick Danko. Leslie has been working in partnership with Scott Petito since 1995. They have recorded two CDs together, "In the silence" and "circles in Sand," and are in the studio producing their next release. Leslie also sings with PRANA an overtone singing choir comprised of professional singers. 'Prana' is a Sanskrit word meaning 'breath,' 'vital energy' 'life force,' and was formed by composer and singer Baird Hersey in 2000.

Scott Petito studied composition and arranging at Berklee College of Music and is an award-winning composer, producer and engineer. His productions have charteed in Billboard Magazine and received Gold Record onors and earned numberous Grammy nominations. His musicality is not limited by style or genre. He has produced sessions or performed with John Scofield, Bonnie Raitt, members of The Band, Pete Seeger, Cindy Cashdollar, The Fugs, Doc Watson, Allen Ginsburg, Rory Block, Scott Moore, Keith Richards, James Taylor, John Sebastian, Taj Mahal, and Vassar Clements in a career distinguished by levels of imagination, taste, and skill rearely found in any one musician. Scott has also scored as composer or producer many award-winning documentaries and programs for the BBC and HBO, The Discovery Channel, Disney, CBS Television, PBS, NPR and DiscoveryTimes.

Drummer Jerry Marotta has recorded and toured with Peter Gabriel, The Indigo Girls, Hall and Oates, Tears For Fears, Elvis Costello, Paul McCartney, 10,000 Maniacs, Suzanne Vega and Joan Armatrading to name only a few. Through his extensive touring experience and performances on hundreds of albums, Jerry has worked with many of the greatest producers in the world. He now carries his experiences to studio sessions as a performer and producer combined.

Music is most broadly defined as sound organized in time. When Jerry’s there, time, from minute shavings of beats to the grand scheme of the piece becomes a compelling force--not just an organizational framework. His ability to listen and his quest to reinvent the drums every time he sits down in the studio sets him apart. There is something in the way he hits a drum that loads it with emotion. More than just volume, there is a spirit in his drumming that shapes the music.

Guitarist Marc Shulman toured and recorded with Suzanne Vega for seven years and has played with Shawn Colvin, Cliff Eberhardt, Martha Reeves, Junior Wells, Billy Very and Jewel. He has recorded with The Bee Gees, Will Ackerman, Lucy Kaplansky, Patty Larkin, and Derrik Jordan, among many others. Marc was a member of the house band on Richard Belzer’s Lifetime Cable show, “Hot Properties” where he performed with B. B. King, Charlie Pride, Bo Diddley and Rodney Crowell. Marc has played on the film soundtracks of Philadelphia, Pokemon and Wendigo .

Marc’s musical abilities are stunning and deliver an emotionally rich sound, and more, he plays the lyrics of the song, not the chart. His ability to listen to the drama in the work and then amplify it either with delicacy or channeled rage is a heart-stopping thing to witness and to enjoy.

Here’s how Marc described his style of playing in a recent interview with jazz writer Cheryl Hughey:

“I am a "texturalist." The electric guitar has such a wide range of expression and I like to explore its coloristic possibilities. A lot of what I do is not recognizable as guitar. I use electronic effects including various distortions, chorus, flanging, envelope filter, tremelo, delays, and reverbs all in stereo to expand upon the electric guitar's already formidable palette. As a soloist, my vocabulary is drawn from the blues. I listen to the song, the lyric, and the singer as well as the existing arrangement to arrive at how I might best contribute to the music. Sometimes not playing is best. . .” –Marc Shulman

Keyboardist Peter Vitalone is an intuitive and prolific composer who has produced four of his own original projects in the past decade. He has scored and appeared on numerous soundtracks including Free Willy.

Peter was the last one into the studio on this record and had to find his way into what were some very crowded tracks, something he did with grace, power and creativity.

Peter has been profiled in EQ and Surround Professional magazines. He has a degree in performance and composition from the Berklee School of Music. He is a creative pianist who has recorded and performed with many and varied performers, including Richie Havens and Dr. John. He has appeared on dozens of records and is one of the most in demand studio musicians in the New York area. For more information on Peter’s work and recordings, please visit

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