Back Porch Music Newsletter

April 9, 2018
WUNC-FM, Keith Weston & Freddy Jenkins
Durham-Chapel Hill, NC

Scott Ainslie 

by Freddy Jenkins

I’ve been a fan of Scott Ainslie’s music since I heard his first solo CD, Jealous of the Moon, when it was released in 1995. That recording has fantastic renditions of three Robert Johnson songs in addition to interpretations of Van Morrison’s “Crazy Love,” the standard “You Don’t Know What Love Is,” Stephen Foster’s “Hard Times, Come Again No More” and a version of “Wayfaring Stranger.”

Ainslie has subsequently released five more, fine CDs—Terraplane (1997), You Better Lie Down (2002), The Feral Crow (2004), and Thunder’s Mouth(2008). These recordings offer a mix of blues, African-American traditional songs, and originals delivered with skill and emotion. His most recent collection, 2014’s The Last Shot Got Him, has a couple more Robert Johnson tunes, as well as compositions by Irving Berlin and Fats Waller. This CD takes its title from a ragtime blues by Mississippi John Hurt and contains a handful of his tunes as well. Ainslie’s own “Late Last Night” is outstanding.

Scott Ainslie was inspired to take up guitar when he heard the blues artist John Jackson play in 1967. According to his bio, though, Ainslie’s mother found him at the family piano picking out melodies from the records she listened to during the day when he was just three years old.

It seems that music and music education have always been a part of his life. He is a Phi Beta Kappa and honors graduate of Washington & Lee University. He is versed in Southern Appalachian fiddle and banjo traditions, and East Coast and Delta Blues.

Ainslie gives classes and workshops in schools for teachers and students that explore the African and European roots of the music of the American South. He has also received awards and grants to acknowledge and fund his work including support from the National Endowment for the Arts and The North Carolina Arts Council.

I enjoy Scott Ainslie’s music and it is a pleasure to share it on Back Porch Music. But as you can tell there is much more to Scott Ainslie than just the recordings that I play.

Rather than offer a few YouTube clips, I’m going to suggest you head to his website where you can learn much, much more about him, and find links to video performances, instructional sessions and his music.

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