Bluesmen have a certain image. You all know what it is. Somewhere on a front porch in a rural area of the South, an old black man sits in a chair banging out tunes on his acoustic guitar. Well, that's not Scott Ainslie. But Ainslie has an affinity for the deep roots of the blues.
"My interest in the traditional forms started when I started playing," Ainslie says. "I found it powerful, fascinating, and not full of clichés like modern blues is. I've always tried to steer clear of standards and look for the stuff that not everybody knows. The other aspect to pursuing the history and background of this stuff is that I was raised white. I was raised in a white Presbyterian church in an all-white suburb. The first black teacher I saw was when I was a sophomore in high school. So, I needed a way into the culture."
For Ainslie, that way became a hunt for people who had had the blues for decades. Through fieldwork in North Carolina, he tracked down a number of old bluesmen who had been born and bred into the tradition. "I wouldn't be up on stage doing this now," Ainslie says, "if I didn't have their approval."
And Ainslie pays them back by turning his blues show into an occasional history lesson, explaining the legends and history underlining the old blues songs he digs up to perform alongside his original material.
"It's protected me from being something I'm not. I'm not 'Bad Scott' Ainslie. I don't have one of those blues names," Ainslie explains. "That posturing that often goes with the music is not something I'm interested in. I'm interested in the music; the sound is what really brought me to it to begin with. I'm trying to find a way to be true to the tradition without lampooning it."
Scott Ainslie comes to the Bamboo Room (25 S. "J" St., Lake Worth) at 9 p.m. Thursday. Tickets cost $12. Call 561-585-BLUE. -- Dan Sweeney
I got yer bassist right here
Victor Wooten is on the short list of Best Bassists Alive. Other people will throw in everyone from Les Claypool to Jaco to Rush's Geddy Lee. But which of them featured nothing but bass on their debut solo record? The answer, of course, would be none. Victor Wooten's 1996 release, A Show of Hands, did just that and somehow succeeded in holding the listener's attention throughout the entire low-end onslaught. But Wooten's fame has come primarily by playing with Futureman and Béla Fleck in the Flecktones. That band's most recent release, Little Worlds, which came out about a month ago, is one of the more ambitious records of the year. There are three CDs of bizarre genre-hopping, from the usual newgrass and jazz to Chinese opera and even a cover of "The Ballad of Jed Clampett" that borrows more from hip-hop than country.
After all that strangeness, it's no surprise that Wooten is out for a few solo gigs. The bass virtuoso appears at Carefree Theatre (2000 S. Dixie Hwy., West Palm Beach) at 8 p.m. Thursday. Tickets cost $24. Call 561-833-7305. -- Dan Sweeney
Live and Let Love
Emo gets blinded by science
If you hate emo, you'll love the Juliana Theory. How can this blinding contradiction be explained? Well, it's not easy, seeing as how the band is a contradiction in terms. The group's 2001 full-length, Emotion Is Dead, pokes fun at the chronic adolescence of many emo contemporaries but has the pop undertones of '80s staples like Journey. Their most recent release, Love, abandons all that sissy pap, turns the knobs up to 11, robs a liquor store, and takes your parents' car for a joy ride. Are you sensing the confusion yet? The Pennsylvania quintet signed with Epic Records for its major-label debut, produced by former Talking Head Jerry Harrison. Singer Brett Detar, guitarists Josh Fielder and Josh Kosker, bassist Chad Alan, and drummer Josh Walters hail from Latrobe, Pennsylvania, home of the Rolling Rock brewery. Don't ask them what the 33 on the bottle means, because they don't know. But check them out with Count the Stars at the Culture Room, 3045 N. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale. Show starts at 8 p.m. Call 954-564-1074. -- Audra Schroeder
That Guy from Howard Stern
"You know I have a gambling problem if I've been in showbiz for ten years and I dress like a homeless guy." Artie Lange has been through rehab, weight loss programs, and jail. So like any good comedian, he knows how to make fun of himself, and he does it well. In addition to Mad TV and films like Dirty Work and Old School, Lange is most notably recognized from The Howard Stern Show, where he took over for Jackie "the Jokeman" Martling in 2001. Or you may have briefly recognized him as "that guy" from films such as Shriek If You Know What I Did Last Friday the Thirteenth, Mystery Men, and the what-the-hell-is-Cuba-Gooding-thinking comedy Boat Trip. You can check out Artie as he pokes fun at himself, talks about his gambling problem, and makes fun of everyone in the audience Friday and Saturday at New York Comedy Club, 8221 Glades Rd., Boca Raton. Call 561-470-6887. -- Audra Schroeder