AN extremely important and memorable year for the famous String Jam Club is about to end with a bang.

Celebrating 20 years of bringing world-class acoustic music to the Borders, organiser Allie Fox has lined up one of the most popular names from down the two decades - Rory McLeod.

Allie first set the club up in 1997 at the Salmon Inn in Galashiels - establishing a meeting place where young local musicians could get together and jam.

From that day on it has developed and grown into one of the best small venues on the live acoustic music circuit.

Over the years it has been voted best gig in the UK by the Guardian, and was nominated for Club of the Year at the Scots Trad Music Awards in 2007.

Now happily based at the County Hotel in Selkirk, the club has continued to go from strength to strength, with Allie booking some of the most well-respected artists in their respective genres.

She told us: “We’re not really a folk club, or a blues club or a jazz club.

"I dislike pigeon-holes and labels, so I always say that we are just we are a live acoustic music club, and that all people who love music are welcome.

"Being a musician myself, I’ve just always loved bringing people together through music since my teens, and there is something very special when you see great artists live and up close, and you can feel that magic energy in the room.

"It’s indescribable. I’m sure if you asked anyone who saw the great Irish singer Mary Coughlan & her musicians at the club last week, they would say the same thing.

"It was extremely moving.”

Allie is already planning the 2018 programme and beyond.

But the 20th birthday party is set to conclude with the much-awaited return of Rory McLeod - who launched the club at the County Hotel in January 2014, bringing the house down in the process - on Saturday, December 9.

The ex-circus clown and fire-eater, who is often described as a one-man soulband, is also a poet and storyteller.

Initially attracting attention in 1980 while working for a small Aztec family-owned circus in Mexico, Rory turned his focus toward music the following year.

After being crowned Texas harmonica champion in 1981, he was named ‘street busker of the year’ at the Edinburgh Festival four years later.

His songs were heard in the Scottish Dance and Circus Theatre Company musical production Shiftwork.

And in 1996, Rory’s song, Invoking the Spirits was a BBC ‘pick of the week.’

A former native of the Borders, Rory sings his own unique upbeat dance stories.

The modern travelling troubadour uses tap shoes, a cappella, harmonica, guitar, trombone, spoons, finger cymbals, bandorea, djembe and various percussion instruments.

Rory has travelled the planet for different reasons at different times, from Asia to the Middle East from Gambia to Cuba, Central America, Australia, North America, Canada, Europe and other nooks and crannies of the earth.

And brings many influences from his travels to his music.

His wonderfully rhythmical and lyrical songs are hugely impressive and his live performances are a totally unique experience.

With support from the excellent songwriter Sharon the December concert promises to be a full-on, and a massively enjoyable, historic evening.

To further celebrate the 20th anniversary of the String jam Club, all ticket holders on the evening will be entered into a prize draw, with a host of terrific prizes on offer, including a luxury two night break at the County Hotel, and free tickets for all of next year's String Jam Club evenings.

Allie added: "The prize draw is our way of saying thank you to all the people who have supported us in helping to keep live music thriving in the Borders.

"People are the beating heart of our club and without you, we could not survive.

"Rory is best loved for being his own man, someone who sounds like no-one else, a complete one-off, unorthodox and brilliant.

"We hope you’ll come and celebrate with us."

Tickets for Rory McLeod on Saturday, December 9 are £12 from the County Hotel (01750-721233) or online from Eventbrite.

And on the night ticket-holders also have the option of 15 per cent off hotel restaurant meals between 6pm and 7pm.

The concert starts at 7.30pm.