Scott Ainslie in Readsboro VT, Friday-June 19, 2015

Readsboro Press ScansExperience the diversity of the blues this weekend
by Rolf Parker

Deerfield Valley News, June 12, 2015

READSBORO, VT–There are several things about a Scott Ainslie concert that make it different from many others. For one thing, no one knows what songs bluesman Ainslie will lay at the E. J. Bullock building on June 19, not even Ainslie.

“I can’t give you a set list because they generally don’t exist. When I take the stage, I generally know what I’m going to start with and how I’m going to end a set. What happens in between is almost entirely driven by a combination of my instincts and my relationship with the audience.”

To kindle this relationship, Ainslie takes the time to meet with people in the audience before the show, instead of waiting until curtain time, waling on stage and starting to play, as many performers do.

“I always go out to meet people before the show. It allows me to know who I’m going to be playing for and it influences my choices. We are in this together,” said Ainslie.

This does not mean that he will play any and all requests for people’s favorite songs.

“When asked for a favorite song by someone, I will make note of it without a promise that it will be in the set. In that sense, there is no ‘show.’ We are sharing a space and a couple hours of our lives together. We influence each other. A request will become part of that dance, whether I play the tune or not.

“In between songs, my attention is on the audience. Somewhere in their faces, I find the next tune.”

While Ainslie may not have a complete set list, his knowledge of the blues gives him many blues songs to choose from. In 1967, when he was only 15, he heard Piedmont Blues musician John Jackson play three songs.

“I view the work of an artist the way a Shaman or Griot might regard their work in a more traditional society. In some tangible and intangible ways, we hold up a mirror to the world, the society, or an individual and we ask, ‘Are you happy with this? This is who we are. Are we Doing Well? Could we do better?’”
– Scott Ainslie

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Thoughts on “Slave Nation”

Slave Nation:
How Slavery United the Colonies
& Sparked the American Revolution

SlaveNation coverAlfred W. & Ruth G. Blumrosen, (Sourcebooks, Inc., 2005).

by Scott Ainslie

Fiat Justitia, Ruat Coelum [1]*
[Latin: Let Justice be done, though the heavens may fall.]

No one in America – black, white, red, yellow, or brown – gets to grow up without having to struggle in some way with racism, and attending issues pegged to the color of one’s skin.

This very stubborn truth troubled the authors of Slave Nation.

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Gateway To Freedom

Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad

Eric Foner (©2015, W. W. Norton & Company)

Gateway To Freedom Book CoverHistorian Eric Foner has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize, the Bancroft Prize, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the Lincoln Prize for his distinguished works on the Civil War period of American history. As the Dewitt Clinton Professor of History at Columbia University, he has consistently brought little known histories to light and with Gateway to Freedom, he does so again.

Integrating fresh evidence–including a secretly kept accounting of escapees created by Sydney Howard Gay, one of the key figures in the New York City network of organizers and activists who were helping escaped slaves to freedom–Foner carefully exposes the myths about the Underground Railroad and elevates it from folklore to history. Americans, who are more interested in our actual history than the mythology that generally obscures it, will enjoy this work.

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First You Make a Roux - Gumbo!

What about the recipes?

We’ve combined the content from ScottAinslie.com and CattailMusic.com into this new site, but friends panicked because they didn’t see the link to Scott’s other site: What’s Scott Cooking Tonight?

The cooking blog hasn’t gotten much attention lately, but the recipes are still there, so if you need a refresher on the New York Times no-knead bread, or Barb’s fancy braided “Bert’s Coffee Cake”, or the encouragement to try gumbo…. head on over to cooking.cattailmusic.com!

glass slide on guitarist's pinky

Choosing a Slide for Slide Guitar

Mass, Hardness, Materials, Fit

Slides are widely available in different designs, materials, and sizes. These comments will hopefully save you from buying slides that will not serve you well and save you from picking a musical tool that might discourage you from pursuing slide in your musical life. Continue Reading

Last Shot Got Him – Living Blues Review

by Frank Matheis
March Issue, Living Blues Magazine

Last Shot Got Him [has Scott Ainslie] putting down six swift Mississippi John Hurt songs, paying homage to the old master starting with The First Shot Missed Him.

There has been a flurry of John Hurt covers lately, some lovely and some over the top with weird phonetic mimicking of Hurt’s voice and dialect that seem almost farcically, culturally misplaced, but Ainslie sings Hurt with dignity and does justice to him musically and artistically. It’s a respectful tribute with superior guitar instrumentation.

He captures Hurt’s music closely to the original while making it his own, bringing on Avalon Blues, Let the Mermaids Flirt With Me, Honey Right Away, Got the Blues and Monday Morning Blues and every moment is a sweet spot.

He has perfectly mastered the lilting, syncopated, alternating bass-picking style of Hurt. Ainslie wakes up that Gibson and makes it chime and ring, with his fingers dancing over the fretboard in a away that this guitar may not have experienced in its 80 years of life. Continue Reading

Scott Ainslie: Striking a thoughtful chord

Post Local section of The Washington Post

By Pamela Constable, February 9 at 5:56 PM

One recent evening, while much of the world seemed to be captivated by Taylor Swift, I was lucky enough to escape to a nondescript diner in Rockville, along with about 30 other people, for a riveting and thought-provoking performance by Scott Ainslie, a graying but nimble folk singer and composer from rural Vermont whose music I had come to know through mutual friends in Chincoteague.

Scott is the kind of musician they don’t make any more, in the mold of the late Pete Seeger – unpretentious, dead serious about his craft, dedicated to preserving traditional American music and instruments, unabashedly faithful to left-liberal values, and so versatile he can make you weep one moment over the story of a dying steel town (“all these houses for sale, and ain’t none of them sold”) and snicker appreciatively the next at a driving Mississippi blues song full of earthy innuendo. Continue Reading

Barns of Rose Hill, Berryville, VA

Ainslie in Winchester VA

Guitarist tells stories through pickin’ strings

By Stephen Nielsen
The Winchester Star, Thursday, February 5, 2015

BERRYVILLE–The Barns of Rose Hill is spreading the blues with a guitar workshop and concert by professional musician Scott Ainslie.

“I think it’s a great way for people to learn from a master,” said Kelli Hart, executive director of the Barns. “As long as you can play, he can teach you something on slide techniques.”

Ainslie is a traditional acoustic blues signer, guitarist, historian, and songwriter. He is a graduate of Washington & Lee University and has studied in the old-time southern Appalachian fiddle and banjo traditions as well as with black gospel and blues musicians, according to scottainslie.com. Continue Reading

Blues Blast February 2015

Blues Blast Magazine, Feb/2015

Featured Interview – Scott Ainslie

by Terry Mullins

It could be something as complex and spiritual as destiny or even the perfect alignment of the stars with the planets.

Or, it could be something much simpler, something like a happy accident or even the stubborn refusal to give up pursuit.

Whatever you choose to call it, the end result is the same; Scott Ainslie ended up with a guitar he had long coveted.

And with that prized possession – a Gibson L-50, circa 1934 -nestled firmly in his hands, Ainslie’s latest album, The Last Shot Got Him (Cattail Music), was quickly given birth.

The album – with just Ainslie on guitar (plus a touch of banjo) and vocals – is like a love letter to another glorious time, a time when legends like Robert Johnson, the Rev. Gary Davis and Mississippi John Hurt were still alive and in their prime. Ainslie’s sixth solo offering seemed to strike a responsive chord with lovers of authentic acoustic blues far and wide…

Read more on their site, or download a pdf.

Huffington Post Interview, 2014

A Conversation with Scott Ainslie
by Mike Rogogna 
The Huffington Post, December 24, 2014

Mike Ragogna: Scott, your latest album The Last Shot Got Him was released back in October. What’s the reaction been to it so far?

Scott Ainslie: From the moment the first copies have gone out I’ve received very positive responses from listeners. The quality of the recording and the performances have both garnered considerable praise. And The Last Shot Got Him was chosen as the December, 2014 “Recording of the Month” by Rad Bennett at SoundStage! Ultra–at http://ultraaudio.com.

MR: How did the material come together for the project and what was the recording process like?

SA: I recorded 17 tracks to choose from for this record and released fourteen of them. The guiding principle was the voice and vintage of the guitar, a 1934 Gibson L-50. All the tracks are songs and tunes that the guitar might have been asked to play when it was young–ca. 1928-1941.

My process? I record all the tracks in my studio at Cattail Music in Vermont. I rough mix them and then Julian McBrowne and I mix the tracks together. For this project, I went to Toby Mountain for mastering. Both of these engineers are masters who believe in using a light touch with acoustic music and we have good results to show for that approach. Continue Reading

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