Travels make Rory’s home heart fonder

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AS we leave behind the turbulent year of 2011, with its English riots, Arab Spring, economic woes and phone hacking, there must be an even greater need for protest songs.

And those wishing to be inspired to challenge injustices in 2012 would not be too far off the mark by listening to the music of Rory McLeod, who entertains St Boswells Live! for its first gig of the year on Friday, January 27.

His life story, which he is sure to discuss at St Boswells Village Hall, is as entertaining as his music, which has previously focused on the Iraq war – No More Blood For Oil savaged George Bush’s move into the Middle East and was written while Rory worked in the Borders – as well as topics such as refugees and workers’ rights.

The Londoner is described as a storyteller – no wonder, with the places he has been to.

He was in Afghanistan well before Tony Blair and President Bush decided to invade, handing out harmonicas to natives in order to get food and hospitality.

Then, like something out of a novel, Rory joined a circus in Mexico to perform as a mouth organ-playing clown.

The troubadour has since visited every continent on the earth – though he is yet to play a gig in Antarctica – with his various instruments, from tap shoes to spoons and, of course, his favoured harmonica.

Now in his sixth decade and based on Orkney, Rory certainly has enough life experience to continue writing, and produced his latest album Swings and Roundabouts last year.

As Rory says of his travels: “The more I go away, the more I feel rooted in my own traditions, in my own language, my own community where I’m from. It becomes stronger somehow in what I sing about.”

He will be joined on the St Boswells Live! bill by another talented musician from the UK’s capital city.

Hannah Scott has received the backing of BBC 6 Music DJ Tom Robinson and played in shows alongside one of the biggest breakthrough acts of last year, Ed Sheeran, as well as support slots for folk favourites Cara Dillon and Seth Lakeman.

A year spent in Tuscany focused Hannah’s hobby of writing music as a teenager, and she self-release d her debut album as well as two EPs.

She reached the final of MOJO Magazine’s New Voice competition last year.

Tickets for the gig, which starts at 7.30pm, are priced at £10. The concession age has risen this year to 16, but the price remains at £5, while two adults and three children can get a family brief for £25.

Tickets can be bought at St Boswells Post Office or by phoning 01835 822692.