It was back in 1967 that Blues musician and songwriter Scott Ainslie heard a local DC area gravedigger, John Jackson, play Blues. Things haven't been the same since.
Transcriber of Mississippi Delta Blues legend Robert Johnsonâ€™s music, Ainslie is now releasing his fifth compact disc, "Thunder's Mouth": a powerful, rootsy slice of traditional blues, originals, and African-American traditional songs.
Opening with J. B. Lenoir's "Down In Mississippi," the collection of tunes ranges through traditional territory. Ainslie follows this with a vocal rendition of Delta Bluesman Son House's wonderful "Don't You Mind People Grinnin' In Your Face," and then Joe Thompson's "Oil In My Vessel," an old-time gospel tune from one of the oldest surviving Black old-time fiddlers known. Ainslie's dark version of "Another Man Done Gone," learned from a 1937 John Lomax field recording of Alabama singer Vera Hall also finds its way into this album of songs.
In addition to strong traditional tracks, the collection includes four Ainslie originals. Two of these have obvious African roots - a kora-inspired fretless banjo tune, "If Anybody Asks You About Me," and "I Should Get Over This," a song of heart break set to a danceable Central and West African-inspired guitar part.
Ainslie's original title song, "Thunder's Mouth," comes of split lineage. While the title phrase comes from Shakespeare, the setting and body of the song were inspired by slave narratives from the Nashville, TN area.
Ainslie's "It's Gonna Rain" is the kind of song you wish you had written – a song of lost love set in south Louisiana that saw its first performance around the 4th of July, 2005, just prior to Katrina's arrival and the failure of the levees in New Orleans. As Ainslie says, "Six weeks later, without changing a word, it became a song - not about losing somebody, but about losing a city, and to my mind, one of the coolest cities in the world."
In addition to Ainslie\'s muscular guitar playing, mandolin and vocals, Thunder's Mouth features Grammy award winning cellist Eugene Friesen of Paul Winter Consort; Lafayette, Louisiana native Sam Broussard, who contributes mightily to the sound and emotional feel of the tracks; and the late T-Bone Wolk, a bassist and road warrior with Hall & Oates. In addition to bass, Wolk contributes accordion, keyboard, guitar and hand percussion to the tracks.
The album was mixed and mastered by Grammy award-winner Corin Nelsen at Will Ackerman's Imaginary Road Studios in Windham County, Vermont.
Sound clips from Thunder's Mouth, lyrics, notes on the songs, and additional information are available at Ainslie's website, http://cattailmusic.com.