Ainsworth, Ken : Theres Only One
Tunes and Testimony: Ken Ainsworth, folk-rock musician, singer and songwriter, has been performing professionally for over 30 years. In addition to his solo act, he has appeared with with the rock band Mystic Procession, the contemporary folk group Night Whale and the The Rondos, playing classic Rock 'n' Roll. On Sunday mornings, he can be found leading music at the Machias Community Church in Machias, Washington. Ken's earliest influences came from the folk-revivalist tradition of the late 50s and early 60s. Records by The Weavers, The Kingston Trio, The Limelighters, Bob Dylan, Peter, Paul and Mary, and (later) Simon and Garfunkle were always playing in his basement bedroom. It was rock 'n' roll, however, that provided him with his first professional gigs. A series of high school garage bands culminated with a year and a half stint with Mystic Procession, a cover group that featured much of Credence Clearwater Revival's catalogue. Then came Vietnam. A low draft number enticed Ken to enlist in the Navy, where he spent a couple years on a submarine playing tag with his Russian counterparts. During this time, he rediscovered acoustic music, and bought a Yamaha guitar with which he began to write his own songs. He also enticed a young woman from his home town into marriage. Ken and Kris have been in love and together since. After his release from the Navy, while enrolled at Washington State University, he played weekends at a little fondue joint in Moscow, Idaho. Gordon Lightfoot, Jim Croce, Harry Chapin and Paul Simon were major influences during this period, but the long gigs (6 hours a night, Thursday through Sunday) gave him plenty of time to try out his own compositions. He honed his songwriting skill by watching the response of the mostly college-age crowd. One night in 1974, a young couple happened by. They liked what they heard, and stayed until closing. Phil (Kaufmann) and Denise (Nina Brandt) were extremely talented musicians themselves, and soon the three became very close friends. In early 1976, they formed the Night Whale group and began playing bars, coffeehouses, lounges, and college campuses all over the Pacific Northwest. One reviewer from Spokane said 'Night Whale is what would happen if Gordon Lightfoot, James Taylor and Joni Mitchell decided to form a group.' Being a road musician was great fun, but Ken had a young family. In 1978, he turned his back on music (temporarily) and took a teaching job in Marysville, Washington. That same year he began attending Machias Community Church, a small congregation between Lake Stevens and Snohomish. The saints at that little country church helped rekindle Ken's faith in Christ. The song 'You Came To Get Me' was written with profound gratitude to God for His work in Ken's life during this period. Night Whale resurfaced during the eighties, despite the fact that Phil and Nina had settled three hundred miles to the South. Weekend gigs were played after marathon drives one way or the other, giving Ken the opportunity to play new songs for new audiences. At the end of the decade, he was invited to join a well-established classic rock group from Seattle, The Rondos. Ken split time between the group in the early nineties, but the Rondos gradually became his most frequent musical experience, primarily because the drives to the gigs were usually much shorter. In 1997, Nina suggested that Night Whale head for the studio one last time to 'put down some of our songs before we're too old to sing'. Several long weekends later, what was to be a keepsake for the musicians and their families turned into the released CD 'Soundings'. Most of the cuts were recorded 'live', with very little overdubbing, and the 16 songs provide a wonderful retrospective of the music Phil, Ken and Nina shared over the years. A number of performances followed the CD release, and it gave Ken a renewed interest in his folk-rock roots. He began to write with renewed enthusiasm, and in 2000 released his first solo CD, 'Machias Morning'. As Ken penned in the liner notes, 'The Machias Community Church has been the center of our spiritual lives since my family and I moved to the Everett, Washington area in 1978. When it came time to put together this, my first solo recording, it seemed appropriate to fill it with songs of faith.' Ken's spiritual journey continues. In 2000, he graduated from Contender's Bible School, and now teaches Doctrine for that institution. He is passionate about his faith, the ministry of Machias Community Church, and the work of Village Missions, an organization who supplies pastors to small, rural communities across the United States and Canada. Following the horrific events we now call nine-eleven, Ken found himself increasingly burdened by the desperate circumstances in which most of us live our lives. He wrote the songs for 'There's Only One' as an expression of his sorrow for sin, his gratitude for God's blessings, and his joy, which comes from knowing the awesomeness of salvation through Jesus Christ. He makes himself available, at no fee, to churches throughout the Northwest, always willing to play and share his 'tunes and testimony'.