Buckfastleigh Biscuit Band

Hugh Nankivell – BSO Associate – 15 April 2016

So what is new about the Buckfastleigh Biscuit Band that started last week? Well we are meeting in the Redmount Nursing and Residential Home and making music with a group of residents who live there, but we are also inviting local older folks who live in Buckfastleigh and Ashburton and famililes with young children who drop in on their way home from school, and a handful of local professional musicians. So we are a creative group playing old and original music together, composing new songs and dancing. This whole project is emerging from a community project Suzy Edwards has been running in Ashburton and Buckfastleigh for the last year and more and her connections, contacts, energy and enthusiasm holped the planning and the first session to succeed wonderfully.

To begin with we had a group of about twenty older folks (some visitors and some residents) in the big common room and musicians Steve (guitar) Bob (trombone) Rachel (flutes) and me (accordion). We were in a big circle with us four musicians spaced evenly around (in the gaps!). We introduced everyone with the ‘Hello’ song, and then quickly got the instruments out – mostly percussion – shakers, chime bars, triangle, llama’s toenails etc and began playing following my conducting. We played fast, slow, loud, soft, stop, start, waltz and march. There was real focus and attention and enjoyment. We then sang a favourite from Redmount ‘The Quartermaster’s Stores’ with many new verses and instrumental acompaniment and got our minds clicking and whirring thinking up rhymes. Next we made up a new song about ourselves. This (and we) became ‘The Hobnob Biscuit Band’ (see words below) and emerged with lots of laughing and fun and great singing. We then ended the first hour with a dance. Rachel, Steve and Bob played while the rest of us danced, listened or sang along.

During the break about five families joined us – parents and children mainly aged 5-12 – and there was lots of tea and squash drinking and much cake eating and socialising. I spent a bit of time chatting to Margaret and wrote down some of the things she said and then, with Steve, Bob and Rachel, turned her words into a little song. After the break we sang it to her and everyone and it seemed to go down well. Now, with the bigger band we added a second verse to our new song, we played instruments again, swapping them many times, we did some call and response playing, we learned and played along with ‘Little Brown Jug’ – another Redmount favourite -, we danced to ‘Moon River’ and we got out the handchimes and played them in a circle. One group of five players created a lovely little melody that we quickly turned into a song – happy words, but a wistful melody, beautifuly played and it felt like a lullaby, so we finished then. Two and a half hours of music and smiling.

This new project linking together many different aged folk from one community in a creative encounter seemed to go really well. By the time I had cleared everything up and was ready to leave I was repeatedly thanked by the residents, who are all looking forward to the next session.

The new songs…


Verse 1
We all like drinking – a nice cup of tea
We all like drinking – black coffee please
We all like drinking – a lovely glass of wine
We all like drinking – we have a good time

We’re allsorts of hobnobs
We’re glad to be here
We’re hobnobs of allsorts
We’re full of good cheer

Verse 2 (made when the families joined us)
We all like eating – bangers and mash
We all like eating – corn beef hash
We all like eating – cheese and bread
We all like eating – what a spread


Old time dancing
Many moons ago
Torquay, Oldway,
Royal Legion clubs
Looking after folk
Two sister in Ashburton
One was ninety nine
The other a hundren and one

Been down one side of the Abbey
Lived down the other for sixty odd years
Buckfast born and bred

I used to decorate,
I used to garden
Now I can’t even get up
To put up a lightbulb
I used to go visiting
I used to do anything
I remember when
Dr Ironside used to be here

Been down one side of the Abbey
Lived down the other for sixty odd year
Buckfast born and bred

It’s a sunny day
It’s a day to play
Let’s go out and play
Today – hooray


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