Ashby returns to his roots

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Singer/songwriter Tommy Ashby will make an emotional return to his native town next weekend.

The 27-year-old, who has carved a niche as a much sought-after session guitarist, will headline one of the three main concerts at the Innerleithen Music Festival. Showcasing his own material, Tommy will play the Memorial Hall on Saturday, August 22.

Born and brought up in the Peeblesshire town, he described the booking as “a dream come true”.

“I watched so many great musicians play on that stage when I was growing up, including two of my heroes, Dougie MacLean and Kris Drever, so I feel really honoured to be following in their footsteps,” Tommy told us.

“I’ve no doubt it will be an emotional gig and I’m excited at the prospect.”

In the audience next week will be his proud dad Seoras, a founder member of the band Blue to the Bone with whom Tommy first performed in Innerleithen as a teenager.

“It was a great grounding and my love of blues and roots music has stayed with me, and is reflected in all my work,” said Tommy.

Educated at St Ronan’s Primary and Peebles High, Tommy went off to study music at Surrey University in Guildford and, since graduating, has been in great demand.

He is a regular in the touring bands of Eliza Doolittle and Scots sensation Nina Nesbitt, playing on her last sold-out UK tour, and was hired to play on the soundtrack of The Inbetweeners Movie.

Tommy has played sessions for a range of other artists at T in the Park, the Isle of Wight Festival and Abbey Road studios, as well as the Hogmanay main stage in Edinburgh.

“I’ve actually done festivals all over Europe over the past two years, but lately I’ve been concentrating on my solo career and it’s been going really well.”

His debut single was featured on the BBC Radio 1 Introducing strand and his follow-up EP, entitled Bruises, is set for release next month.

Critics have hailed his “skillfully crafted, warming and beautiful songs” and his “natural and absorbing” live shows.

Tommy Ashby’s Memorial Hall concert next Saturday begins at 1.30pm with support from the Mischa MacPherson Trio.

Tickets (£8, £5 for under 16s) are available from the Eastgate Theatre Box Office in Peebles (01721 72577) which is open from 10am to 5pm Monday to Saturday; from Scotlight, 33 High Street, Innerleithen; or, subject to availability, at the door.

Meanwhile Seoras Ashby will join guitar legend Frank Usher to provide support for next Friday’s night’s Memorial Hall concert starring Eddy Reader.

And in a curtain raising fringe event next Thursday, August 20, Usher will lead The Border Boogie Band in a free gig in the Tweedside Hotel (Middle Pub), starting at 9pm.