Triangle Arts and Entertainment – News and Reviews Theatre Dance Music Arts

Bluesman, Scott Ainslie — June 14

Scott Ainslie served as a Visiting Artist in artist-in-residency programs  throughout North Carolina and Virginia from 1986-2001.

Scott Ainslie served as a Visiting Artist in artist-in-residency programs throughout North Carolina and Virginia from 1986-2001.

DATE: Sunday, June 14, 2009; 3 p.m.

VENUE: Daniels Auditorium, NC Museum of History, downtown Raleigh
EVENT SPONSORS: PineCone and the NC Museum of History
INFORMATION: or, (919) 807-7900

Raleigh, N.C. – Scott Ainslie’s performances weave music with interesting stories and anecdotes about the songs, not only leaving his audiences fully entertained but also slyly more educated. He performs on guitars and a one-stringed diddley bow (of African derivation), and he recently took up the gourd banjo and Southern old-time fiddling. On Sunday, June 14, he brings his nearly four decades of experience with traditional music and musicians to the NC Museum of History for a free concert.

Hearing Virginia Bluesman and grave digger John Jackson (1924-2002) play a couple of songs in the middle of a Mike Seeger concert in 1967 shaped Ainslie’s life. He started playing guitar a month after that show and has now spent more than 40 years studying and playing traditional music, visiting and documenting senior musicians in America’s old-time banjo and fiddle music, blues and gospel traditions.

From 1986 until 2001, Ainslie served as a Visiting Artist in artist-in-residency programs throughout North Carolina and Virginia. Based at community colleges and serving local communities, he developed a strong educational component to his performances, seeking out the history and background of the music in order to make it moving and interesting to audiences of varying ages and backgrounds. Ainslie was a leader in the North Carolina Visiting Artist Program, and he served on its state board from 1988-1990. He was a University of North Carolina Public Fellow in 2000, and was awarded the 20th Annual Sam Ragan Fine Arts Award by St. Andrew’s Presbyterian College. Ainslie has received numerous other awards and grants for his artistic and scholarly contributions through blues performance, documentation, scholarship, and education.

Ainslie has recorded five CDs of traditional and contemporary blues, with some pieces including old-time gospel and worksongs as well. He describes his latest CD, 2008’s Thunder’s Mouth, as “a dark, roots-oriented collection that reflects my long apprenticeship to African and African-American music and culture. The title song comes of split lineage – from Shakespeare and Civil War era slave narratives.” Ainslie is also the video teacher for Robert Johnson’s Guitar Techniques (1997) on the Starlicks Master Sessions video lesson, recently released as a DVD. He also wrote a book on Johnson’s music– Robert Johnson/At The Crossroads (Hal Leonard, 1992) is a book of transcriptions of the recordings of this Mississippi Blues legend with complete annotated lyrics, a brief Johnson biography and historical notes.

Ainslie has performed in a variety of venues, from community concert series and local schools to the Kennedy Center and the renowned Empire Music Hall in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He plays and speaks of the music he loves with passion and authority. Combining 30 years of scholarship with almost 40 playing guitar, Ainslie presents a beguiling mix of the African and American roots of the blues in story and song. As a performer and a teacher, Ainslie presents programs that are vital and entertaining. He currently makes his home in of Brattleboro, Vermont.

Ainslie will perform at 3 p.m. on Sunday, June 14 at the NC Museum of History’s Daniels Auditorium. This program is free and open to the public. Program notes will be provided. For directions and more information, please call (919) 807-7900, or visit

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