Brass Band Poems 
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Brass Band Poems

Over the years several bands have been immortalised in poetry. Here are a few examples.

See also Bramley Brass Band
See also Brass Band Poems and Working Class Culture

HARROGATE BAND SONG - (Cumberland Clark - 1926)

Did you ever hear the Harrogate Band?
Although it's so awful they think it grand,
You can hear it as the day is dawning,
When you take your waters in the morning.

There once was a man, I understand,
Who said that he liked the Harrogate Band;
I thought him the strangest man on earth,
'Till I found out that he'd been deaf from birth.

The instruments all creak and wheeze,
They wander off into various keys,
It may suit some, but it's not my taste,
For it gives me pains below the waist.

Did you ever hear that awful Band?
There's nothing like it in all the land,
Its' strains of music are so sad,
It makes all good people feel quite bad.

Did you ever hear that curious band?
The Band and the Cure go hand in hand,
As the music is not at all too pure,
No wonder the visitors need a cure.

They played last night for a good half-hour,
'Till I turned pale, and the milk turned sour,
The lights burned dim and the air went blue,
Then the gas went out, and the cat went too.

And when they're marching through the town,
The noise that they make really wears you down,
The dogs join in, with all just cause,
And citizens wane behind locked doors.

To stand that Band you need great nerve,
If the members got what they deserve,
They'd be taken out to a quiet spot,
Where the visitors could shoot the lot.


Carnwarth Brass Band, Carnwath Brass Band
I never saw a band like Carnwath Brass Band;
Frae Orkney to Gretna, seek thro' all the land,
Au' ye'll no fin' a band like Carnwath Brass Band.

Carnwath Brass Band, a' are strapping young men,
Some are six feet six, some are five feet ten;
Little Johnie is the crate, and Jamie wants a band,
Yet, ye'll never fin' a band like Carnwath Brass Band;

When our band gaed to Biggar, a' the lasses were surprised
To see a band o' men o' such wondrous size
In uniform so fine, and in stature so grand,
O, they never saw a Band like Carnwath Brass Band!

Their music loud and strong, re-echoed to the skies,
The very hares and foxes were filled wi' surprise;
Some little hills might dance, but auld Tintoc made a stand,
Astonished with the strains o' Carnwath Brass Band!

At Biggar and Carluke, they behaved unco weel,
Did their duty and cam' hame, without servin' the diel,
And when they were at Linton, astonished a' the land,
Wi the nimble footed powers o' Carnwath Brass Band.

But O! the last St John's day, they got an unco fa',
Altho' it was winter, it was neither frost nor snaw,
Yet they got their sells so drunk, that some could scarcely stand,
And wasna that a shame to Carnwath Brass Band.

The laddie wi' the red cap, that thumps the muckle drum,
Was so very fat, he could hardly gar't play dum;
And Johnie roared the 'Ewie' when be wasna fit to stand,
And wasna that a shame to Carnwath Brass Band.

Our Jock's, seen often ill, but never was seen worse,
Be was so doiled and swabble that he couldna clean his horse;
But lay as he'd been shot at Sebastopol so grand,
And wasna that a shame to Carnwath Brass Band.

Lazy, lien, genty Tim, got himself so clatty fou;
He was carried third the way, like a newly stickey cow,
In the smiddy lay in state, like a Satan's firebrand,
And wasna that a shame to Carnwath Brass Band

Young men o' the band, tak ye my advice,
Beware o' whisky drinkin' if ye wad be wise;
Carry on as ye've begun, and a bairn may understand
Ye'll no very lang be Carnwath Brass Band

Winning the "Daily Graphic" Challenge Cup and other Prizes, at the Crystal Palace, Saturday, Sept. 29th, 1906

Up to the great, big Hall of glass,
That stands o'er the hills of Kent;
Beyond the roar of the city
Well, the Ryburn bandsmen went.

They left their homes in the village,
Two hundred miles of a ride,
To try for a cup, worth winning,
With a touch of fame beside.

They play'd, and they play'd superbly,
They play'd, and they play'd their best,
To try to carry the trophy
From the hands of all the rest.

At night, they wired the village,
"Tell, the Ryburn Band has won,"
And the lads they all felt bigger,
And the men all said "well done."

Returning, a stranger met them,
His voice, just over the din,
"These are not men, but lads!" said he,
But they're men enough to win.

Sam Mellor, Ripponden


Hurrah! Hurrah! It's come at last,
I really do declare;
Ye'll see them marching doon the street,
Playing the Scottish airs.
The auild folk prance, the young ane's dance,
And at each ither speer-
Oh, tell me where the band comes frae?
We'll, it comes frae Dunnikier - Aye.

It's the Dunnikier Brass Band,
It's the Dunnikier Brass Band,
As they go marching doon the street,
They're sae tidy, trim, and neat – and
That's the Dunnikier Brass Band

Come on noo boys, jist rally roond,
And aye support, yer baund;
It'll no' be very long before
It's heard on contest staund.
You've got the best men roond about,
Of that there is nae doot.
And when your baund begins to play
You'll hear the people shout – that

It's the Dunnikier Brass Band,
It's the Dunnikier Brass Band,
When you hear the public say
That's the best we heard today,
You'll feel proud o' the Dunnikier Brass Band

Enthusiastic men you've got
Tae take ye by the haund;
Stand by them - they'll staund by you
And then you'll understaund;
That when ye “pool” thegither, weel,
The battle is half won.
And when ye lift the prizes – then
The public say "Well done!"

That's the Dunnikier Brass Band,
That's the Dunnikier Brass Band,
When you hear the the miners cry -
“Good for Reid and C Mackay!”
They've revived the Dunnikier Brass Band

Those Cornets! - (Dedicated to Barrow upon Humber Brass Band - 1897)

The basses, soft and mellow, never shrill,
With proper modulations, swell and fall,
And seldom ape the creaking of a mill,
Or the Tommy-cat's nocturnal caterwaul.

But the cornet player blows
A very different sort of tone -
Discord every bit his own -
Could you listen and restrain
Language warm, or feel no pain,
Well - you're constitution's made of sterner stuff than I suppose.

Those cornets, O those cornets, how they scream
As seagulls on the startled air of night;
I hear them now, I hear them when I dream,
And I wish they were in Hull out of my sight,

O cruel cornet-blower,
Blow sweeter, gentler, lower,
Or away with your false harmony;
'Tis like that "made in Jarmany"
I'd heard so oft before.
If you really can't play better,
And I must die thus, I'll get a
German band to kill me, though it cost a copper more.

The Contest - A Tribute To Thornley Band

They sit around in horse-shoe style
Instruments ready all the while
They watch the man in uniformed hat
With baton raised, no silly chat.
The work's all done, rehearsal gone,
It's now that they have practised for.
The bandmaster keenly scans the score,
Down comes the baton they've been waiting for.
They play their hearts out
Because they know the other bands are formidable foes.
“Beethoven's works” - the test piece played,
Opening butterflies soon allayed.
Unison, then a great solo
A cadenza, to make the performance grow.
Loud applause at the end
Greets them wildly like 'Amen'
Of course, they won
With points in hand
No others could touch the Thornley
Our silver prize band!

The Brass Band Contest or Blind Jackson for Ever

O come all ye fine Norfolk Dumplings and Joeys who live in this city,
And I'll try just to tickle your fancy by reciting my sorrowful ditty.
On Monday the place was alive, and folks to the Market did stray.
And what did they go there to see, that wonderful thing a fine day.
High and low, great and small were assembled, and round at each other did stare,
To see the sun shining so bright, and wonder'd howe'er it got there.
Fine weather this summer is scarce and rain comes almost every day.
So when there's a chance of sunshire, they on with their duds and away.

“To-wit to-wo” says the Owl, I'll scheme a fine sight, yet be thrifty;
For by laying out forty-five pounds, I can manage to double my fifty.
So a contest of brass was soon plan'd to take place on the new Cricket ground,
And the Norwichers glad of a change, rushed off at the very first sound.
The schoolmaster shut up his school and sent all his boys out to play,
But he took care to have them all come, till he pocketed all the week's pay.
Tom French Horn has given up his shaving and intends just to live at his case,
Because when his shop was kept open he couldn't go to such jolly sprees.

There's Dogdard who says he's a printer, who is not to be done by a trifle,
March'd up to the ground in his plumes, but he had not to borrow a rifle.
There was a Cockey, who wears a moustache to make him look fierce like a man,
Was seen smoking his pipe on the ground and eying an half-gallon can.
In the Market the bands met together, the Ipswich in light grey and red,
The blue Cambridge chaps were all stunners; the Railway band with their head
The Peterboroughs were no duffers. The Norwich band with their grey sacks on,
They all of them played very well, but they had no chance with Blind Jackson.

His chaps blew so well, I heard say they did not lose a puff of their wind,
And for fear that the wind should fiz out, they were well stuffed with cotton behind.
Well the cup and the cornet they won, and everyone thought it quite fair,
'Xept the band which had got a thick head, and, oh! lor, how those railway chaps swear.
They made sure o' winning, you see, of self-conceit they have a full share,
If they could not afford to lose, what business had they to come here.
They said the judges were partial, I am sure I don't know if they were;
But if they'd asked Jenny Marshall, she'd suited em all to a hair.

Well the day was a fine treat be sure, with such squeezing and treading on corns,
While the girls were all highly delighted to see how they handled their horns.
George Coe made a smell and smoke with fireworks just after dark,
And this was the point of the joke, that each maiden might pick up a spark,
And go billing and cooing along, and what else I'm too modest to say,
But make yourself scarce Master James, or you'll soon have the Beadle to pay.
There's gentleman Awl he says nothing, the Alderman's forced to fight shy,
But Rifleman Awl, with his ramrod was seen aiming at a Bull's eye.

Then success to the old Owlets' nest, where the shiners are laid up in store,
May he ne'er turn his noughts into nines, then the money will faster in pour!
Then success to each kind-hearted maiden, may none of them turn out forlorn,
Who taught our brave Rifleman how they can blow the short notes on their horn!
Success to each musical hero, who musical honour still seeks,
May he ne'er prove the truth of the poet, and “Blow wind and so crack his cheeks”!
Then success to friend Jackson, tho' blind, that misfortune we all of us pity,
May he long keep thus sound in this wind, for the honour of old Norwich city.

The Brass Band Contest - the Norwicher's Grand Spree
20th August 1860

You may say what you like, but I think you must own,
Of all the grand sprees there ever was known,
There never was one it must be confest,
That ever exceeded the Brass Band Contest.

Why the thoughts on't alone turned the Norwichers mad,
Though many a wild goose chase they have had;
By hundreds they thronged, at home they couldn't rest,
Their heads were so full of the Brass Band Contest.

For most of them expected as they very well might,
They should certainly have seen a most splendid sight,
For Bills were put out and by them express't,
The grand doings there'd be at this famous Contest.

The Bands were invited from all parts of the nation,
To come down to Norwich on this grand occasion,
On purpose to try each other for to best,
For a Fifteen Pound Prize at the Brass Band Contest.

And the Twentieth of August, it being the day,
That these Sons of Apollo their skill should display;
On the New Cricket Ground like talented boys,
And try who was able to make the most noise.

One o'clock being the time that the Band were to meet,
From every hole and cornet, lane, alley and street,
Away ran the Norwichers just as though they were crazy,
Both the old and the young, the lame and the lazy.

And not only Norwichers, but also their country cousins,
That the cheap trains had brought to the City by dozens,
Till the Market place was so crowded with women and men
But a more disappointed party there never was seen.

Why some of them got into a terrible passion,
They thought to have seen a most splendid procession,
But instead of the Bands starting off all together,
Some of them went one way and some went another.

When they got to the ground a rare fist on't they made,
Some blew till their eyes were fit to start from their head;
Some blew their lips down till they couldn't make a sound,
Their minds were so fix't on the sweet fifteen pound.

And one Cornet blower amongst the poor wretches,
Blew so hard that he actually dirtied his breeches;
So anxious was he the Silver Cornet to gain,
But he found to his cost all his blowing was in vain.

For 'twas very well known before the Contest begun,
Billy Jaxon was the chap that was fix't upon;
The Silver Cornet to win, his lungs being the strongest,
He was able to blow both the loudest and strongest.

As for the Norwich Cornet Blowers, each conceited fellow,
Found young Billy Jaxon can beat them quite hollow;
They may bounce and may swagger, and blow all they like,
They've no more chance with Jaxon than poor old Bob Dike.

But the worst job of all I really do think,
Is the extortionate charge that was made for the drink;
For when in the Booth for truth I am told,
At a shilling a bottle Mild Porter was sold.

And after the Contest came the grand Rural Sport,
Such as Bow and Arrow shooting, and things of that sort;
Hurdle jumping, Rope Dancing, which must be confess'd,
Was the best part of the Spree at this Brass Band Contest.

And to finish the Sports and wind up the day,
Of Fireworks there was a most Brilliant Display;
Get up by George Coe, in both Red, Blue and Green,
Such Fireworks before there never was seen.

When the sports were all ended and ten o'clock come,
They thought it was time to return to their home,
And retire into bed, but they could take no rest,
They were dreaming all night of the Brass Band Contest.

The Riggs of a Band Contest - at the Vickey Gardens, Great Yarmouth
21st August 1861

(some words are missing from the original)

At the Vickey Gardens a short time ago,
A Band Contest took place of which you all know,
And great numbers of people thither did stray,
To hear the sweet music that each Band did play.

The grounds were well filled with Apollo's selection,
And eagerly waiting in every direction,
The battle of musical talent to hear,
Which after turned out decidedly queer.

Bill Ullay was first on the stage with his Band,
Which certainly made a ………
……the beer was on board,
And the spectators said that he was sure to be floored.

Then came the Sawston of Cambridgeshire fame,
Who dashed to contest like true Briton's game,
But were doomed by the judges to take the last place,
Although they deserved to be fourth in the race.

Next came the Militia Artillery to test,
Who played very well and no doubt did it their best,
We were told e'en we came they could lick the Life Guards,
That no other Band dare to approach them by yards.

There was Kegnick a dancing about like a showman,
And for a man in his place it looked very uncommon,
But like all other Germans he's full of trickery,
And being placed third made him look very shickery.

The came Jackson's Band who appeared on the stage,
And performed Handel's works which stands first on the page,
With precision and taste the Hallelujah was played,
When finished the Band were loudly hurrah'd.

Next was the Cambridge in their Jackets of Blue,
Who intended that day to die or to do,
The Lessee was Cambridge, the Judges likewise,
So there is no wonder they got the first prize.

Now my dear readers comes on the best fun,
From the Vickey Bar out flew the great gun,
With a magnificent cup of inferior tin,
For the best cornet player who had talent to win.

Says Vickey to Kegnick, “Up and do Battle,”
And for the Rich Goblet give a good rattle,
For winning my boy is out of question with you,
You know I have told you it “should be a due”.

All at once Vickey shouts “it is a walk over,”
“Oh! no,” says T. Cosgrove, not so my brave rover,
Jackson's brave band for your Tin P……..
And if fairly judged ……. they can win.

Then Vic in a rage, cried aloud for the Bobbies!
And soon he intended to push Tom through the lobbies,
But Cos. who was leary, to the people appealed,
And Vickey's Secret he to them revealed.

Poor Vickey was done, and cleverly foiled,
He sneaked into the bar alarmingly roiled,
He looked like a ghost so white in the face,
No doubt for the future he'll keep his own place.

There's his friend Correspondence! a regular duffer,
And “Foul Play” his pal, is a shiney old buffer;
But Cosgrove's a match for all the false crew,
If they meddle with him, they will soon cry a go.

The Blanchardstown Sound - by Tommy Bracken, 1971

They blow and they pound
The Blanchardstown sound
The beat is something grand,
And for many a year
There's always been a cheer
For the sound of the Blanchardstown Band

The Merseyside beat
Would bow in defeat
Joe Loss would be struck to the ground
The Garda Band at the races
Would have awe struck their faces
If they heard the Blanchardstown sound

The bands of the Army
Would in envy turn “barmy”
Or even retreat underground,
No need in denying
And no use in trying
To compare with the Blanchardstown sound

All of the bands
O'er the world ever played
There's still yet one to be found,
Like our village brass band
The pride of our land
Long live the Blanchardstown sound