Blue Ridge Outdoors Interview

To call Scott Ainslie a musician is to shortchange his abilities; along with being a world class blues guitar player, Ainslie counts himself an author, historian, storyteller, and teacher.

The Brattleboro, Vermont, resident – whose roots run deep right here in Virginia – was introduced to the blues as a teenager. Since that foundational moment when he was fifteen, Ainslie has maintained a passionate love affair with early American blues music, going so far as to transcribe the original works of the legendary Robert Johnson in his book Robert Johnson: At The Crossroads and produce an instructional DVD on Johnson’s playing techniques.

Ainslie has also released five recordings, won grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the North Carolina Arts Council, and has traveled the U.S. and Canada to share his brand of American folk music.

Recently, Ainslie released his latest record, The Last Shot Got Him, a collection of tunes originally recorded in the early twentieth century by such luminaries as Mississippi John Hurt, Robert Johnson, Fats Waller, and more.

Ainslie I corresponded by email this week and I must admit to being transfixed by his responses to my questions. His understanding and appreciation of musical history virtually seeped through my monitor.

Continue Reading

Scott Ainslie on NPR-Radio Diaries: Robert Johnson & Pablo Casals!

“A Guitar, A Cello, and The Day That Changed Music” (Radio Diaries)

November 23, 1936 was a good day for recorded music. Two men – an ocean and more apart – sat before a microphone and began to play. One was Pablo Casals – a cello prodigy who had performed for the Queen of Spain. The other was the soon-to-be Delta Blues legend and guitarist Robert Johnson – a regular in the juke joints of the Mississippi Delta.

On this day, three-quarters of a century ago, Pablo Casals and Robert Johnson both made recordings that would change the course of music history.

Blues singer,guitarist, and historian Scott Ainslie, along with Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, Delta Blues musician David Honeyboy Edwards, and cellist Bernard Greenhouse talk with Radio Diaries’ Joe Richman about this one day, its recordings, and what followed from this remarkable coincidence.

The Feral Crow

cd cover: the feral crow by scott ainslie©1999, Scott Ainslie

I’m gonna blow off the top of this mountain
And fill up the valley below.
Before we get done, the dust will block out the sun
And we’ll peel back the layers of coal. Continue Reading

Exit 178

cd cover: the feral crow by scott ainslie©1997, Scott Ainslie. All rights

I found you burying your face, like a boy who cries:
Ragdoll legs and broken arms, one shoe off and one shoe on.
Rain trickles inside the collar: Yellow slicker, 3:00 a.m.
Silent, skewed and thickening—-I touch your shadow with my hand. Continue Reading

Dust My Broom

cd cover: thunders mouth by Scott Ainslie(Robert Johnson)

I’m gonna get up in the mornin’ – I believe I’ll dust my broom.
I’m gonna get up in the mornin’ – I believe I’ll dust my broom.
Girlfriend, that man you been lovin’, tell him he can have my room. Continue Reading

Death Don’t Have No Mercy

cd cover: terraplane by scott ainslie(Gary Davis)

Death don’t have no mercy in this land.
Death don’t have no mercy in this land.
Well he’ll come to your house, but he won’t stay long.
Look in the bed and somebody’ll be gone.
Death don’t have no mercy in this land Continue Reading

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