Thunder's Mouth, CD by Scott Ainslie

The Artist: Scott Ainslie

Recordings & Robert Johnson Instructional DVD

Scott Ainslie’s previous 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 with a killer band, The Feral Crow (2004), and the current Thunder’s Mouth (2008).

In 1997, Ainslie also recorded an instructional DVD on the music of Robert Johnson for Starlicks Master Sessions Videos, a follow-up product to his ground-breaking book, Robert Johnson/At The Crossroads, (Hal Leonard, 1992).

Ainslie’s new CD, Thunder’s Mouth, is an original and moving extension of his work with African and African-American music. It is a powerful body of work that brings together diverse songs and influences from traditional acoustic blues and African-American songs, Ainslie’s original songs, and African solo guitarists blending it into a harmonious whole.

Awards and Grants

Ainslie has received numerous awards and grants to acknowledge and support his work in documenting and presenting traditional music including support from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency in Washington DC, the North Carolina Arts Council, The Independent Weekly community artist award and the 21st Annual Sam Ragan Fine Arts Award from St. Andrew’s College in Laurinburg, NC.

Artist-In-Residencies and the Visiting Artist Program

As a traditional musician with expertise in both Southern Appalachian fiddle and banjo traditions, and East Coast and Delta Blues, Ainslie has specialized in performing roots music and presenting programs on the African roots of American music and culture in community and educational settings since he joined the prestigious North Carolina Visiting Artist Program and took his first artist-in-residence position in a racially segregated community in eastern North Carolina in 1986.

Community Building with Music and History

In this polarized setting, Ainslie focused on issues of shared history while re-balancing the community’s idea of itself by articulating and honoring the overlooked contributions of African-Americans in our music, language, aesthetics, and civic lives - without setting off any alarms: dealing with race and cultural values as a matter of fact, not polemics.

Ainslie’s apprenticeship in those counties - where up until the early 1980s, there had been three different, entirely segregated school systems: one for Native Americans (with positively dangerous buildings), one for Blacks (with terrible buildings), and one for Whites (with brand new buildings) - has proved invaluable in other parts of the country and the world where racism is more subtle and the invisibility of privilege more complete.

The Right Story, The Right Fact, The Right Song

Ainslie has spent nearly three decades looking for the right story, the right set of facts, the right bit of history to introduce a song, a personality, a moment in history, in order to make his way around the social defenses we all possess and to give a song a chance to awake and breathe among us. Along the way, he has developed expertise in the many African retentions - musical and cultural - that have deep roots in African traditions while remaining active in our culture now.

African Retentions and the Roots of ‘Coolness’

From the Yoruban roots of our ideas of ’coolness,’ to our use of the human voice in song, to the scales and musical structures associated with American music – from Gospel and Blues up through Jazz, Soul and R & B, to Rock ’n’ Roll and Hip-Hop – America is and has long been a mixed race culture. Now, at this moment in our history, we are present at a fitting moment for us to examine these issues.

Educational Programs and Performances

There are a variety of programs outlined on the Cattail Music website and also at the Loyd Artists site that give an idea of the scope of Ainslie’s work from the stage and in the classroom. He also often develops programs adapted to address local needs and goals.