Most folk tunes are named after people or places. We have collected information about most of our tunes, so that we can tell our audiences about them, for added interest during our performances. Some examples are:
The Crooked Bawbee. We have named our band after this tune. Here are two bawbees, which are indeed very crooked. Sliver coins were subject to "clipping". People would clip a bit of silver off each silver coin they got, before they spent them. As well as spending their money they gained a pile of silver, which they could then sell. We usually play The Crooked Bawbee in our first set of tunes.
Redesdale Hornpipe. The river Rede is one of Northumberland’s many rivers, and this tune is named after a beautiful valley through which it runs. During the 1800’s the British Government declared that all sailors should dance hornpipes every day while on board ship. It was thought that this exercise would increase blood flow, and help to combat scurvy!
Sweet Hesleyside and Hesleyside Reel. Hesleyside is a village in the West of Northumberland. The tunes are either named after the village or Hesleyside Hall. The latter is the historical home of the Charlton family, one of the border reivers families, located in grounds designed by the great Northumbrian Capability Brown.
Whittingham Green Lane. Named after a delightful village in Northumberland, in the heart of the National Park. The locals pronounce it “Wittingjam”, which likely was the Anglo-Saxon pronunciation. However, all the lanes in Whittingham are green, and seemingly there isn’t a street called Green Lane. This is a very popular tune with Northumbrian pipers.
Roxburgh Castle. Built on the Northumbrian and Scottish border in 1128, and destroyed in 1460, although even today there are some remains to be seen of the castle. Some have claimed that it was the site of Camelot, although we are not sure just what evidence there is for this claim, that's assuming that you believe that such a place ever existed!
Tom’s March. This tune was written in the 1950s/60s by Northumbrian piper Billy Pigg. Billy was one of the most famous and accomplished Northumbrian pipers of all time. He wrote many wonderful tunes, all consistent with the Northumbrian tradition, and well loved by folk musicians. He wrote this tune in remembrance of a friend's son. This is one of our favourite Billy Pigg tunes, although we play several.
Stagshaw Bank Fair. This was an annual country fair held just outside Corbridge, probably dating from medieval times, becoming the biggest and most popular fair in Britain. However, it was abolished in Victorian times, “owing to much drunkenness and debauchery”. This painting depicts the Duke of Northumberland opening one of the fairs, although we don't know the date. He is on the brown horse nearest to the cross. On the white horse is the Duke's Northumbrian piper.
Battle of Hopton Heath. We also play some tunes from Staffordshire. This battle was fought during the English civil war, just outside of Stafford, on 19 March 1643. Before the battle the Royalist officers were at a service in St. Mary's in Stafford, when the alarm was raised that the Roundheads were ready to do battle. The sides met at Hopton Heath, and during the battle the Royalist leader, the Earl of Northampton, was killed. The battle may not have had a clear outcome.
Vandalls of Hammerwich. Another Staffordshire tune, named after a village near Lichfield. In medieval times the villagers were allowed to collect wood from the local forest for their own use. When the King removed this privilege, the villagers protested by setting fire to the forest, hence being named the vandalls of Hammerwich. Hence the town of Burntwood. The famous Staffordshire Hoard was found in the parish of Hammerwich.