Fiddler's Dram were a British folk band of the late 1970s. They are mainly known for their hit single, "Daytrip to Bangor (Didn't We Have a Lovely Time)" (1979), although the sound of this record was not representative of the acoustic songs and tunes they had been performing for several years at folk clubs and festivals.
The full-time members of Fiddler's Dram were drawn from the Oyster Ceilidh Band and were:Cathy Lesurf - vocals, bodhran
Alan Prosser - guitar, fiddle, bowed psaltery, bones
Chris Taylor - bouzouki, harmonica, appalachian dulcimer, mandola, tenor banjo
Ian Telfer - fiddle, bowed psaltery, viola, English Concertina
later joined byWill Ward - Bassoon, Recorder, Crumhorn
Dave Arbus, violinist with East of Eden, was a founder member but left long before the band achieved success.
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 "Daytrip 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 "Daytrip 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".
The single reached number 3 in the UK Singles Chart in January 1980, having been released the previous year, and is now available via iTunes.
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.
Songwriter Cook subsequently went on to write scripts for The Archers and EastEnders.
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 "Daytrip 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 "Daytrip to Bangor".To See the Play (1978) Dingle's LP DIN 304
Fiddler's Dram (1980) Dingle's LP DID 711