Armed with a variety of instruments – vintage guitars, a fretless gourd banjo, a one-string, homemade diddley bow (aka cigar box guitar) and carefully chosen historical personal anecdotes of his encounters with senior musicians across the South – Ainslie brings the history, roots music, and sounds of America alive.
Scott Ainslie’s mother found him at the family piano picking out melodies from the records she listened to during the day when he was three years old.
He’s been a musician all his life.
A Phi Beta Kappa and honors graduate of Washington & Lee University, Ainslie came of age during the Civil Rights era, and cultivated a powerful affinity for cross-cultural exchange.
He has studied with elder musicians on both sides of the color line – in the Old-Time Southern Appalachian fiddle and banjo traditions, as well as Black Gospel and Blues. He plays this music with affection, authority, and power.
On stage, in educational teaching concerts, workshops, and school residencies, Ainslie explores the African and European roots of American music and culture. His easy, conversational way with audiences and cross-disciplinary approach to the music consistently garners rave reviews from presenters, audiences, students, and teachers, alike. He is a masterful and thoughtful historian, storyteller, and musician.
Ainslie has spent more than 30 years looking for the right story, the right set of facts, the right piece of history, to introduce a song. He offers a personality, a moment in history, a vignette to entice you into a song and to give that song a chance to wake and breathe among us like a living thing.