String Jam’s Selkirk relaunch line-up, plus songs of protest

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The String Jam Club has announced the first three musicians to perform in its new Selkirk venue.

One-man soul band, poet and multi-instrumentalist Rory McLeod will relaunch the club, which met for 16 years in Galashiels’s Salmon Inn, with his bizarre solo orchestra at Selkirk’s County Hotel on Saturday, January 11, followed by Preston Reed on February 8, and Rab Noakes on March 8.

The club’s Allie Fox said Rory possesses “a natural troubadour’s talent for weaving magical, musical, storytelling spells.

Accompanied by his distinctive instruments – guitar, harmonica, spoons, finger-cymbals, bandorea, Djembe-drum, trombone and tap-dancing shoes – his live performances are legendary.

“Radiating energy and vibrance, Rory’s songs and melodies are influenced by flamenco to blues, through to Celtic, East European and calypso, creating a style of music and songwriting that is totally and uniquely his own, which he describes as ‘Country and Eastern’.”

Rory has travelled the world with his music: in 1981 he was Texas Harmonica Champion, and in 1996 was the BBC’s Pick of The Week for his ‘Invoking The Spirits’, a recording of a personal musical journey through Zimbabwe, searching for the Mbira, (African thumb piano), for BBC Radio 4.

Tickets cost £10, available in advance from the venue, or on the door.

Meanwhile, the String Jam Club is also organising, with the local Borders Amnesty Group, a protest song competition for young Borders song-writers aged 11-18 years, with a first prize of £500, two runners-up prizes of £100 each, and a performance of the winner’s song by world-famous artist Julie Felix.

“Your song can be about anything that matters to you personally or an issue that you feel strongly about,” writes Allie. “Entrants must submit a performance of their song to Amnesty’s private YouTube channel by March 14. Four finalists will then perform at the Grand Final Concert (Saturday, June 7, 2014).”

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