Leo Forde was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1989 the day before the fall of the Berlin wall. His early years were spent dressing up as different animals and waving at fire engines. When driving in the back of his mum and dads car, he pretended he could cut the tops off mountains with an invisible stick. He liked dancing to Kate Bush and the Singing Kettle, though he was too scared to sing on stage with them one Christmas. On entering primary school, Forde pursued his interest in dressing up and enjoyed giving dramatic readings from school books with a small group of friends until he got beaten up by an older boy called Christopher for doing so. He developed the habit of scribbling holes in his jotters until they were ruined and cried as he tried to fight the impulse. In primary 3, he took up the bagpipes which nobody liked except his younger brother, who didn’t mind. Forde was threatened with expulsion from primary school for pulling his trousers down at the janny but got away with a warning.
Switching to a catholic school in his teens, Forde began to understand the importance of feeling guilty about everything and drinking alone. He made some new friends and they began listening to music.
He took guitar lessons with a great teacher called Duncan McCallum who told him about BB King and Django Reinhardt. Forde began to lose interest in the bagpipes. He left school as soon as they would let him and began work for a number of organizations, all of whom eventually sacked him.
Turning his back on employment, Forde convinced Strathclyde University and later Birmingham Conservatory to accept him on their music courses where he was able to play with people his own age and learn from patient older musicians, despite how he sounded.
After touring and drinking heavily with some prominent Scottish folkies, Forde moved to New Orleans where he has been living since 2014. He plays regularly in the cities jazz clubs and has performed at Jazz Fest, French Quarter Fest and Satchmo Summer Fest. He mostly plays Django Reinhardt’s music and leads his own quartet aswell as working with The Hot Club of New Orleans.
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