Edinburgh-born (but with large bits of Orcadian, Glaswegian, Irish, and even a wee touch of French DNA) musician and singer Bob Leslie started out playing and writing way back in the 60s folk boom, but was led astray by friends of the electric persuasion, and spent the next few decades having a slightly greater degree of success – perhaps by reason of the increased volume? – on the highly competitive London rock scene.

He was approached by the Kinks managers – who put him in the studio and recorded demos of his songs – and Chrysalis Records – who were looking for someone to write something on the lines of Total Eclipse of the Heart!

Although those early contacts didn’t pan out, they did lead Bob to work with great musicians, some of them members of  hit bands like  Camel,The Hank Wangford Band, Corey Hart Band, ClancyOrange Juice, and the Sensational Alex Harvey Band.

In 2012,  by now a long-term resident of Glasgow, Bob returned to full-time folk music. In 2017, he released Land and Sea, 12 self-penned musical tales from Caledonian life and legend. As one reviewer remarked, “as per the title of one of these songs, Bob literally is ‘The Seanachai’, or traditional storyteller/historian.” Playing on the album with Bob were accomplished folk performers Bernadette Collier on backing vocals, Wendy Weatherby on ‘cello, Kate Kramer on fiddle, and Avril Cleland on whistle.

Bob’s next album The Barren Fig (2019) featured another dozen songs on Scottish themes dealing with war and peace, laughter and sadness, far-flung adventure and life by your own fireside. Kate Kramer appeared once more on fiddle, with Annie Neville on accordion, and Pauline Vallance on clarsach (Celtic harp) and flute.

In March 2021, Bob released his best album to date (at least that’s what he keeps muttering to himself in the twilight of lockdown!), In Praise of Crows. Because of said lockdown, he supplies most of the instrumentation and vocals himself (he’s a clever laddie), but Pauline Vallance again makes an appearance, as does Annie Neville (via email from Australia!), there’s a tiny over-the-Net cameo from Wendy Weatherby, and Bob’s very talented daughter, Alice Leslie, steps up to the mic on a couple of songs.

If you’d like to provide some ongoing help to finance future recordings and gigs, please consider making a regular contribution (be it ever so small – even a couple of bucks/month makes a big difference if it’s regular) via Bob’s Patreon site. The site shows $ contributions, but will accept most currencies (so will Bob).

Here’s a wee song from The Barren Fig to help you decide. By the way, in case you’re wondering why folkies always say “wee songs”, it’s because of the Hebridean Song Act of 1956 which prohibits any song of over 40 verses being sung at an open session. Honest!:

Up, Carles, Dance! © Bob Leslie 2019
Music by Bob Leslie, lyrics by Bob Leslie & Hugh MacDiarmid

Thanks to the estate of Hugh MacDiarmid, and to his publishers, for permission to use part of A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle (MacDiarmid, Hugh: Complete Poems Vol. 1, Carcanet Press Ltd 1996)


Bob Leslie is a Scottish Traditional Songwriter & Singer

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