Experience 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