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.

While it has almost become uncouth to admit it, Scott Ainslie also has a special affinity for Robert Johnson. Guitarist may know him well for his DVD Guitar Signature Licks Series: Robert Johnson. When it comes to Robert Johnson, Ainslie is a gallant defender paying tribute to the often malighned master, joining a crescendo of loyal RJ fans who ar by now tired of weary resignation, and who rejoice in rehabilitating his image. On The Last Shot Got Him, Ainslie includes Love In Vain and Cross Road Blues, both marvelous gems.

He also puts the Gibson to the test on Fats Waller’s classic Ain’t Misbehavin’ and Rev. Gary Davis’ prohibition ditty Sally Whiskey.

Just for the fun of it, he included a few oddities: the melancholy tune Say It Isn’t So, a 1932 pop song written by Irving Berlin; Over The Rainbow from the Wizard of Oz: a song by the great Edgar Yipsel ‘Yip’ Harburg (who also wrote Brother Can You Spare a Dime?); and Oliver Wallace and Ned Washington’s When i See An Elephant Fly from Disney’s Dumbo.

Scott Ainslie

Born in Rochester NY in 1952, Scott Ainslie has been playing music on something since he was three years old. A guitarist since 1967 with powerful appreciation for and apprenticeships with elder black and white musicians in different musical traditions, Ainslie carries a portion of them forward in his own traditional blues performances and songwriting.

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