Fiddler's Dram were a British folk band of the late 1970s most widely known for their hit single, "Day Trip to Bangor (Didn't We Have a Lovely Time)", which reached no. 3 on the UK Singles Chart in January 1980.
The full-time members of Fiddler's Dram, drawn from the Oyster Ceilidh Band, were:
- Cathy Lesurf – Lead Vocals, Bodhrán
- Alan Prosser – Backing Vocals, Guitar, Violin, Bowed psaltery, Bones
- Chris Taylor – Backing Vocals, Tenor Banjo, Bouzouki, Harmonica, Appalachian Dulcimer, Mandola
- Ian Telfer – Violin, Bowed psaltery, Viola, English Concertina
- Will Ward – Bassoon, Recorder, Crumhorn
The full-time members of the band were drawn from a group of musicians at the University of Kent at Canterbury and members of Duke's Folk Club in Whitstable. Jamming sessions in a Canterbury squat often took place with additional club members given the opportunity to take part in these sessions and sometimes at local performances. The band had an enthusiastic local following and played regularly at local clubs and bars in and around the Canterbury area, with the open nature of the band's ever-changing part-time line-up contributing to the band's popularity. With other various club members, including John Jones and Ian Kearey, the full-time members of the band formed the Oyster Ceilidh Band in about 1976, with Cathy Lesurf singing and later assuming the role of caller at dances.
The first Fiddler's Dram album To See the Play was released on the Dingles label in 1978. It featured acoustic arrangements of mainly British traditional songs and tunes, but also included live favourite "Day Trip to Bangor", written by Whitstable Folk Club regular Debbie Cook. Dingles' David Foister suggested that this track be released as a single. It was re-recorded at a faster tempo than on the original LP, and with the acoustic instruments augmented by other instruments including bass guitar, synthesiser and drums.
It has been claimed that "Day Trip To Bangor" was actually inspired by a day trip to Rhyl (a seaside resort 35 miles east of Bangor, North Wales), but because Bangor had an extra syllable and slipped off the tongue more easily, it was used instead of Rhyl. This caused an outcry from councillors and businesses in Rhyl who complained that the publicity would have boosted the resort's tourist economy. Songwriter Cook has unconditionally denied this, however. Cook, when interviewed for the BBC Radio 4 documentary, broadcast on 29 September 2011, said the song was "absolutely yes" about the Bangor in Wales. She said "I was so ignorant at the time that I didn't know that any other Bangor existed, so it was categorically this Bangor, and it was Bangor because it scanned and for no other reason than that. And it was the only place I knew along the north Wales coast." In the documentary, when interviewer Jonathan Maitland reminded Cook that there was a furore about the song really being about Rhyl, Cook laughed and called it "a great piece of nonsense".
A version of the song, with altered lyrics, was used the following year in a TV commercial for Anchor butter. The band received no royalties for this, and the story was featured on the BBC TV series That's Life!. Also in 1980, a spoof version, "Daytrip To Barnhurst" by Jackie & The Commuters, was released on a single and much played on Capital Radio though without any chart success.
Will Ward had joined the Oyster Ceilidh Band by 1978, and became the fifth member of Fiddler's Dram on their eponymous second LP, recorded hurriedly to follow up on their unexpected success in the UK Singles Chart. The band were unable to achieve subsequent success however – in the words of Ian Telfer "Day Trip To Bangor" was "the kind of success you don't easily recover from. Fiddler's Dram did one more tour then gratefully took the money (and the gold discs) and ran".
The Oyster Ceilidh Band continued as both a dance and concert band however, changing their name around 1982 to The Oyster Band and later to just Oysterband. Cathy Lesurf subsequently left the Oysters for a spell with the Albion Band.
In 2009 Lesurf released a Christmas single called "Christmas Time". She said she hoped it would be a hit so it would be a "companion" for "Day Trip to Bangor".
- To See the Play (1978) Dingle's LP DIN 304
- Fiddler's Dram (1980) Dingle's LP DID 711
- "Fiddler's Dram". Official Charts. Retrieved 3 March 2020.
- Dave Arbus
- Musikfolk.co.uk Archived 17 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine
- Musikfolk.co.uk Archived 13 October 2010 at the Wayback Machine
- BBC 4 Lyrical Journey episode 2
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 199. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- "One-hit wonders". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2 May 2010.
- "Cathy's X-Factor Xmas challenge". BBC News. 11 November 2009. Retrieved 2 May 2010.