Responses from presenters, reviewers, students, and audience members:
The gold standard
“Scott is a master of anything with strings: his playing is effortless and soulful. He knows the history and the context of the music, and his own songs are sly and full of melody. He’s a generous performer and his connection with the audience was profound . . . Scott is the gold standard.” – […]
Blues Music Magazine
“Scott Ainslie is a veteran touring pro who is frequently found performing in venues up and down the East Coast. With a warm, affable persona, and a wealth of musical knowledge, I highly recommend checking him out when he comes to a town near you. You won’t be sorry.”
Washington Post Review
“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 […]
Ainslie sings Hurt
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…He has perfectly mastered the lilting, syncopated, alternating bass-picking style of Hurt.
Sold Out Performance
Scott’s performance at our sold-out Community Arts Festival gala on Saturday night was incredible. He’s a talented musician, historian, teacher, and — maybe most importantly — a compassionate human being.
Studied with Elder Musicians
A Phi Beta Kappa and honors graduate of Washington & Lee University, Ainslie also studied with elder musicians on both sides of the color line – in the Old-Time southern Appalachian fiddle and banjo traditions, as well as with black Gospel and Blues musicians. Ainslie has received numerous awards and grants for his work documenting […]
An Important Teacher and Protagonist
Ainslie is a beautiful stylist who respects the country blues and acoustic blues music, feels it deep down to his soul, and understands its essence. He is not just an important bridge to the original blues, he is an important teacher and protagonist of the genre.
Old Blues and Southern Musical Traditions
Ainslie is one of the most important cultural protagonists of the old blues and Southern musical traditions.
Mississippi Valley Blues Society
Ainslie is a true master of the old traditions, not just as performer but also as a serious blues historian and musicologist. Here is a guy who gets the African-American blues deep into his soul, having connected with it on every level from its origins. He sings in a clear tenor and has perfected his […]
A Debt To The Blues
It’s common knowledge that the vast majority of popular music owes a debt to American blues, but few have set about repaying it with Scott Ainslie’s sense of purpose…Spend a little time talking with him, and you’re going to learn something. Ainslie shows not only how the music feels now, but how it felt then, […]
Mississippi Valley Blues Society
Thanks so much for your recent presentation on Blues Guitar Music & History at the LeClaire Community Library last Monday evening. We received so many wonderful comments on your playing and presentation. Our patrons were so impressed with your talent and depth of knowledge of the Blues. It was an entertaining and inspirational evening! From […]
Fantastic Program at NC Museum Of History
Thank you for the fantastic program this past Sunday at the NC Museum of History. The seamless mix of music and some of the stories behind it made for a truly entertaining, educational, engaging performance!… Audience members, young and old alike, sat in rapt attention throughout the program, a tribute to how enthralled everyone in […]
Unpretentious, Authentic and Soulful
I really enjoyed meeting you and hearing you play at Caffe Lena. I deeply love the music you play and I enjoyed your approach to it – unpretentious, authentic and soulful. I hope to hear you again soon. Please let me know if you’ll be playing in the Boston area. Torey
I Don’t Even Like Blues That Much
I don’t even like the blues that much, but I will sit and listen to Scott Ainslie play the blues as often as you let me. He sings about love gone wrong in a hundred different ways, tells the stories behind the songs, talks about the history of the blues… All the while you can […]
More Than A Musician
Scott Ainslie is more than a musician. It’s perfectly true that his voice is incredibly clear and powerful, and his guitar playing is expert beyond anything most people have ever heard. But there is more… Sitting in the audience during his performance here at Unity Church of Clearwater, I couldn’t help but notice something transformative […]
Sophisticated, But Also Intimate
What worked about your show was that it was sophisticated but also intimate. These students identified with you, with your stories and your struggles, and I think this identification kept them engaged, open and so respectful of your work… And so, I write to give you the praise that we, as people, so rarely take […]
It Doesn’t Get Much Better Than That!
With Scott’s performance, you don’t just get a guy singing songs. He’s a great storyteller, historian, and educator. From the minute he starts, you know you’re with someone who cares deeply about both music and people. He brings music at the highest level, and happens to be fun to be around. It doesn’t get much […]
It Meant A Lot to Our Audience
For our in-house outreaches, Scott Ainslie gave two 50-minute performances for K-8 students (with 300-400 students in each), and kept them engaged and interested the whole time. One parent who has come to many outreach events said that his was the best outreach she had ever been to at the Shannon Center. At the public […]
Totally Enjoyable, Educational, and Listenable
I really can’t express how blown away I was with the totally enjoyable, educational, and listenable stage set and workshop you presented for us this year at the Western Maryland Blues Festival. – Festival Founder
Educational, Informative, and Charming
Ainslie’s rapport with the audience was keenly matched with his versatility, and the crowd was swept away on a musical journey through time and space, with constant reference to the genre’s roots in Africa. Steel, acoustic and “cigar box” guitars were hauled out, along with a banjo or two, as the history lesson (and entertainment) […]
A Master of Acoustic Blues
With an expressive baritone and nimble fingers…Ainslie is a master of American acoustic Blues. He is also among the most highly regarded Blues historians, a veritable walking encyclopedia of Blues and Jazz.
Ainslie’s Performance Was Extraordinary
Scott Ainslie’s performance was extraordinary. Students positively glowed throughout the concert and were impressed with his scholarly knowledge of Blues history and his musical technique. Students assigned Ainslie’s show the highest possible rating on the survey scale. If Ainslie comes back to town, I’d plan to take students to his shows again in a heartbeat. It […]
Blues Like an Electric Shock
Last, but definitely not least, was Scott Ainslie, a virtuoso of Delta blues slide guitar. When he walked on stage, his 1931 National steel guitar shone like a polished silver chalice and he played it as if it were sacred. Scott has spent a great deal of time learning from the traditional blues players of […]
He Lives In The Groove
Durham resident Scott Ainslie led the way, accompanied by his trusty National Steel guitar and a heart full of the best of Robert Johnson, Blind Boy Fuller, and Blind Blake. His set was a combination of extremely well-played blues and brief sorties into the history of the music, the musicians, and even his guitar. The […]
A Consummate Storyteller
Scott Ainslie is renowned not only for his Robert Johnson-esque guitar picking, but as a consummate story teller who peppers his shows with heartfelt and often harrowing true stories about the prejudice, violence and poverty that underpin the Blues and affected many of its most influential musicians. –Executive Summary, Pittsburgh, PA
Exactly What We Hope For
Your concert was a wonderful success for Calliope. When we set about crafting a unique and diverse series every season, evenings like that and performances like yours are exactly what we hope for. From a diverse audience of over 500 in the hall that evening, I am still receiving congratulatory e-mails from enthusiastic board members […]
No Ordinary Blues Musician
Ainslie is no ordinary Blues musician. Not hardly. He has delved into the music and its history and doesn’t mind sharing it. – “Year’s 10 Best Jazz & Beyond,” Pittsburgh, PA 2003
Until Sunday Breakfast!
His guitar playing is so technically perfect, his feel for the Delta Blues so vivid, that I sat through his set with a dumb smile on my face…I would have happily gone on listening to Ainslie until Sunday breakfast!
Magical in Both Song and Storytelling
We truly enjoyed your time here and the schools cherished your outreach. Your blues workshop scored a major impression on the guitarists from all over the West Georgia region. The evening concert was magical both in song and storytelling, as your spell-bound audience applauded with as much energy as you performed. What a gift you […]
Tied to the Life and Work of Robert Johnson
During his career, Ainslie has become particularly tied to the life and work of late bluesman Robert Johnson, whose legend states that he sold his soul to the devil at a Mississippi crossroads. Ainslie was recently part of the official centennial celebration of Johnson’s birth, serving on a discussion panel and playing at the event. Ainslie […]
Teaching the Historical Roots of Blues
Scott Ainslie stepped onto the stage and swept back his long, graying hair. He slung his 1931 National, a guitar he bought 20 years ago in a pawn shop in Georgia, over his arm. And then he began to play the blues. Teaching the historical roots of blues music, especially to the younger generation, is […]
Scott Ainslie Has a High Calling
Scott Ainslie has a high calling. He’s a blues and traditional roots musician, a blues historian, storyteller, teacher, record producer, and ethnomusicologist. He’s developed a strong voice and conscience to match. Ainslie has made a point of studying the culture and history of the blues musicians whose songs he sings. He says, “Knowing the background […]