Guitarist, educator, and historian Scott Ainslie will be the first artist-in-residence for the Mississippi Valley Blues Society's Blues in the Schools program for the 2012-2013 academic year. He will visit schools in the Quad-City area during the week of October 22-26. He will also present three open-to-the-public performances:
- Monday October 22—LeClaire Community Library (3rd and Wisconsin, LeClaire IA), 6:00-7:00 p.m.
- Thursday October 25—River Music Experience Café (2nd and Main, Davenport IA), 7:00-9:00 p.m.
- Friday October 26—The Muddy Waters (1708 State St. Bettendorf IA), 9:00-9:45 p.m.
In 1967, at a Mike Seeger concert at his high school outside of Washington DC, Scott Ainslie heard Virginia bluesman John Jackson (1924-2002) play a couple of songs. Things haven’t been the same since. Scott started playing guitar a month later and has now spent nearly forty years studying and playing traditional music, visiting and documenting senior musicians in America’s old-time banjo and fiddle music, blues and gospel traditions.
Drawing on the musical legacies of Delta blues legends Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters, the East Coast's Blind Blake, and Durham NC’s Reverend Gary Davis and Blind Boy Fuller, Scott Ainslie is a noted performer and scholar with experience teaching elements of African and African-American music to students of all ages, both in the classroom and from the stage.
With five CDs, a teaching DVD on the guitar techniques of Delta blues legend Robert Johnson, and a book on Johnson’s music—Robert Johnson/At The Crossroads (Hal Leonard, 1992)—to his credit, as a performer and a teacher Scott Ainslie continues to present programs that are vital and entertaining. On the road, Scott performs and presents workshops in schools, libraries, community arts venues, colleges and festivals. He is also a respected instructor at music programs across the country and maintains an active schedule teaching guitar out of his home in Brattleboro, Vermont.
His work includes teaching concerts on the African roots of American music using live performances of blues, worksongs, gospel, jazz, and rhythm and blues to illustrate the historical and musical connections between African and American cultures. Scott’s performances always include interesting stories and anecdotes about the music that leave his audiences slyly better educated and fully entertained.
From 1986 until 2001, Scott 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. Performing on guitars, a one-stringed diddley bow (of African derivation) and recently, the gourd banjo and Southern old-time fiddling, Scott brings four decades of experience with traditional music and musicians to his audiences.
From community concert series and local schools to the Kennedy Center and the renowned Empire Music Hall in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Scott Ainslie plays and speaks of the music he loves with passion and authority. Combining over 30 years of scholarship and 40 playing guitar, Scott presents a beguiling mix of the African and American roots of the blues in story and song.
Ainslie's recordings include three roots-oriented acoustic blues projects, Jealous of the Moon (1995), Terraplane (1997), You Better Lie Down (2002), and a collection of Ainslie’s non-blues original songs, The Feral Crow (2004)—which continues his exploration and mastery of pre-World War II guitar styles, and his current Thunder’s Mouth (2008).
Major funding for Scott Ainslie’s Blues in the Schools residency comes from the Riverboat Development Authority. Thanks also to our sponsors The Iowa Arts Council, The Moline Foundation, Alcoa, The Lodge, and KALA radio.