Jam man

Rory McLeod.
Rory McLeod.

The String Jam Club relaunches this week at Selkirk’s County Hotel with ‘one-man soul band’ Rory McLeod.

The Grand Relaunch Concert at 8pm on Saturday (January 11) also features guest appearances from Peebles-resident New Yorker Kathy Stewart, who will be playing with her trio the Frequent Flyers.

The Borders’ haven for acoustic music, now in its 16th year, has moved from its previous home at The Salmon Inn in Galashiels due to refurbishments, the club’s organiser Allie Fox told us.

“The String Jam Club’s more than just a music venue,” she said. “It’s a Borders treasure, bringing consistently high quality live music to a wide-ranging audience, and providing a platform for young emerging artists here throughout its long history.”

Describing the star headliner Rory McLeod as “one of the UK’s most articulate and individual musicians”, she added: “There is no-one on this planet like Rory McLeod. And if you have heard Rory McLeod before, you will know what to expect: the unexpected.

“Rory will unfailingly deliver his usual waltzer ride of rhymes and rhythms, songs and dance tunes, stories and sounds, in an energetic mix of styles and instruments. He is is a one-man-soul-band, the poet with a natural troubadour’s talent for weaving magical, musical, storytelling spells, accompanied by his own bizarre solo orchestra of distinctive instruments.

“The spoons, finger-cymbals, bandorea, Djembe-drum, harmonica, guitar, trombone and-tap-dancing shoes accompany the rich, raw, deep and resonant voice of this singular and liberating performer.”

An ex-circus clown, fire eater, and Texas harmonica champion, Rory has travelled the world, gathering friends, music and stories. He has played harmonica and guitar with Townes van Zandt, Michelle Shocked, Ani di Franco, Butch Hancock, the West-African guitarist Ali Farke-Toure and Taj Mahal, and Madagascan group Tarika.

“Rory is a musical gypsy,” she said. “His eccentric melodies are infused with influences from Flamenco to blues, through to Celtic, East European and Calypso rhythms, creating a style of music and songwriting that has been described as ‘intimate, revealing, political and powerful’. When he sings his songs he will take you on a journey with him. His live shows radiate energy, with great songs to dance to, infectious rhythms, flying harmonica, and an intense, tireless and charismatic presence.”

The String Jam Club will be meeting on the second Saturday of every month, and future guest nights include guitar viruoso Preston Reed on Saturday, February 8, and Scottish songwriter Rab Noakes on Saturday, March 8.

“The club is very eclectic and puts on a wide variety of music: singer-songwriters, blues, Americana, folk, guitarists,” she said. “We like to be very inclusive and welcome all kinds of acoustic music. The club is always on the lookout for local musicians of all ages to perform at its now famous open mic spots, and we’re keen to get Selkirk musicians onto the String Jam stage.”

Tickets for the Rory McLeod concert cost £10, from the County Hotel in advance, or on the door.

More info at www.facebook.com/stringjamclub