Scott Ainslie

Scott Ainslie

Considered a master of America roots music, Scott Ainslie brings a wealth of personal and musical history to the stage. With expertise in Ragtime & Delta Blues – and the banjo and fiddle traditions of the Southern Appalachians – in Ainslie’s hands the African and American roots of the music come alive in an engaging mix of history, stories, and song.

A musician all his life, Ainslie took up guitar at age 15 about five weeks after hearing Virginia Bluesman John Jackson play a couple of songs in the middle of one of Mike Seeger’s concerts in Alexandria, VA in 1967. A Phi Beta Kappa and honors graduate of Washington & Lee University, Ainslie also studied with elder musicians on both sides of the color line – in the Old-Time Southern Appalachian fiddle and banjo traditions, as well as with black Gospel and Blues musicians.

He transcribed the original recordings and published a book on Delta Blues legend Robert Johnson, Robert Johnson/At The Crossroads (Hal Leonard, 1992), and has an instructional DVD on Johnson’s guitar work, Robert Johnson’s Guitar Techniques (Hal Leonard, 1997). Ainslie has six solo CDs to his name and maintains an active recording, performing and teaching schedule that carries him around the country, to Canada, and to Europe. He has received numerous awards and grants for his work documenting and presenting traditional music. These include grants from the National Endowment for the Arts (a federal agency in Washington DC) and from the Folklife Section of the North Carolina Arts Council. Ainslie was presented with the annual Independent Weekly Triangle Arts Award; the National Slide Guitar Festivals’ Living Heritage Award; and the 20th Annual Sam Ragan Fine Arts Award from St. Andrew’s Presbyterian College in Laurinburg, NC.

As a traditional musician with expertise in both the Southern Appalachian fiddle and banjo tradition, and Piedmont and Delta Blues, Ainslie has specialized in performing and presenting programs on the African roots of American music and culture in community and educational settings. He joined the prestigious North Carolina Visiting Artist Program and took the first of his many Artist-in-Residence positions in a dramatically racially segregated community in eastern North Carolina in 1986.

Peppered with humor and stories, Ainslie’s teaching concerts help students and teachers learn to listen for the musical building blocks that continue to influence the music they hear all around them today – contemporary Rock, Bluegrass, Country, Gospel, Metal, R & B, and Hip-Hop. Question and answer periods are welcome at the end of each performance.





  16 Santo Lane, c/o Loyd Artists, Au Sable Forks, NY 12912



Scott Ainslie's Educational Concerts

Program description

Call & Response: African and American Musical Traditions – In a program of spoken words and live musical performances, diverse audiences of all ages will sing and clap with Scott Ainslie through a survey of the hidden history and the dynamic interplay of more than a century of American and African musical traditions.

Across the Color Line: The African South – In this varied program featuring the calabash gourd banjo, diddley bow, and guitar, Ainslie tours the music of the American South where European and African musical traditions cross-pollinated to make the powerful hybrids that have long dominated popular music in our nation and, subsequently, the world. Suitable for all ages, this is a tour-de-force in Southern musical traditions that exposes their roots from the Scots-Irish fiddle tunes of the Appalachians to the musical traditions of West Africa.

Before Rock ‘n’ Roll – Where did our music of today come from? This program will help teachers and students explore the music that came before today’s Rock ‘n’ Roll. With interactive call & response singing and syncopated hand clapping, Ainslie leads a fast-moving tour of early spirituals, work songs, East Coast Ragtime, and Delta Blues. Playing fretless gourd banjo, one-string diddley bow, acoustic and slide guitars, he encourages guided, appropriate participation and makes the learning fun.

Booking / scheduling contact

Susan Lounsbury, Loyd Artists

   518-647-5916 (SL)

Program detail
Artistic discipline: Music
Cultural Origin: American, European, Multicultural
Program type: Out-of-School-Time, Workshop
Population served: Grade 1, Grade 10, Grade 11, Grade 12, Grade 2, Grade 3, Grade 4, Grade 5, Grade 6, Grade 7, Grade 9, Kindergarten
Subject: Music, Social Studies / History
Bilingual: No
Available dates:

Available year-round with routed dates at several times during the school year.

Available times:

Available for day time student concerts and evening family concerts

Length of program: 50 minutes
Space / technical requirements:

Artist will provide sound in most cases; 8′ x 8′ space with outlet accessible


In schools, libraries, theater, centers

Fees / Ticketing:

$650 for one performance / $1,100 for two in the same day


NC Standard Course of Study:


SL2 = Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.


SL4 = Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.


R7 = Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse formats and media, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.

NC Essential Standards:


From the Social Studies 3-5 Standards:


4.C.1 = Understand the impact of various cultural groups on North Carolina.


8.C.1 = Understand how different cultures influenced North Carolina and the United States.


From the Arts Education, Music Standards:


CR.1 = Understand global, interdisciplinary, and 21st century connections with music.


Conducts educational programming for 2 or more years: Yes
Performs criminal background checks on staff with youth contact: Yes
Maintains general liability insurance (Individuals and organizations listed in this Directory can provide proof of insurance upon request. ASC does not hold copies of current documentation for providers): Yes
Three letters of recommendation / references available: Yes
Provides study guides for teachers and or students: Yes
Connects to State and or Common Core Curriculum Standards: Yes
Provides tools to assess student learning (workshops and residencies): Yes
Provides scholarship and reduced fees: Yes
Conducts ongoing assessments of program quality: Yes