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Band Aid for students

Academics from the University of St Andrews have written a song about the credit crunch in aid of student scholarships.

The folk-rock band consisting entirely of academics from the Arts faculty will sell downloads of the song to raise money for students in need.

The song, inspired by the current financial crisis, was written by founder member of the band, English lecturer, Dr Chris Jones.The band, Dry Island Buffalo Jump, formed in summer 2008 and currently consists of four historians, a French linguist, a Divinity scholar and a poet.  Formed as a ‘music-making collective’ for academics across the University, the band will donate all proceeds from the song, plus live performance fees to a newly established fund for St Andrews’ students.

Dr Jones said, “In these straitened economic times, more and more students are going to find it hard to get the money together to go to university. We wanted to do something that would help out students from less privileged backgrounds to come and study at St Andrews. It’s our way of giving something back, as we’ve obviously all benefitted from higher education ourselves.”

Although they initially started out as a covers band, the group have written a number of original songs, including one about being the only cowboy in Fife and another that sets the Fife Bluegrass sound to the earliest surviving Scots poem, about the Wars of Independence.  A song about the end of the world was co-written with historian James Palmer, who has an interest in theories of the Apocalypse.

“We’ve written a number of songs recently about contemporary issues, but set them in a historical context,” explained Dr Jones.  “For example, The Credit Crunch Song imagines the Old Testament prophet Hosea rolling up in the 21st century and telling us that we’re reaping what we’ve sown.”

The song refers to Hosea 8:7, ‘For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind: it hath no stalk; the bud shall yield no meal: if so be it yield, the strangers shall swallow it up’.

The track, which is downloadable via the University website, also features guest appearances from Heraclitus, the pre-Socratic Greek philosopher, and Boethius, the sixth-century philosopher poet who wrote ‘The Consolation of Philosophy’.The Credit Crunch Song was inspired over coffee with St Andrews’ historian Alex Woolf, who suggested that Chris write a song about ‘providential wisdom and the recession’. Alex is also responsible for the band’s unusual name, which is a provincial park in Canada.

The song was recorded earlier this month in Chris’s Boarhills cottage by Dundee musician John Curran, and features backing vocals by ‘the Buffalettes’, Chris’s daughters, Eve (9) and Anya (7).

The group formed during a jamming session held at Chris’s home, though its roots go back to playing at teacher training college sixteen years ago with Dr Gavin Hopps, now also at St Andrews.  Chris, who plays bass guitar, banjo and bodhran, envisages an evolving lineup, with new colleagues taking part in this unusual form of interdisciplinary collaboration as ‘academics inevitably move on’.

The group describe themselves as ‘Americana folk-rock, a bit like The Band, if they were from Dairsie’, and, with 18 degrees between them, they have already been dubbed ‘the brainiest band in Britain’.  Current members include Dr Jones’s colleagues at the St Andrews Institute of Mediaeval Studies; Dr James Palmer, Professor Chris Given-Wilson, Dr Simon MacLean and Dr Norman Reid, Dr David Evans from the Department of French and Dr Gavin Hopps from the School of Divinity.

Since launching themselves on an unsuspecting public late last year, the group have already played live on student radio station STAR and Radio Scotland’s arts programme, performing a range of original songs and chatting live.  During the national broadcast on St Patrick’s Day, the band dedicated a song to their ‘ace new Principal’ Dr Louise Richardson.

Dr Richardson said, “I think this is an inspired initiative and a wonderfully creative approach to fundraising for student scholarships.  Dry Island Buffalo Jump are clearly a talented and dedicated bunch, and I applaud them for their efforts.”

This summer, the band will perform to the class of 2009 at Graduation Ball, having already ‘headlined’ the Arts Faculty AGM last month.

It is the perhaps the most unusual form of fundraising launched so far by the University.  President of the Students’ Association, Andrew Keenan commented, “Students at the University think it’s really exciting that a group of lecturers have got together in such a fun way to do something about student hardship and widening access.  It’s a really nice way of them giving something back – and it turns out they can actually sing too!”

Dr Jones concluded, “Neither of my parents went to university – I was the first in my family – so widening access is something I feel quite strongly about. But that’s also true of many of my colleagues here.  If a few kids who wouldn’t normally think about coming to study at St Andrews apply here because of our song, and get a bit of financial support to do so, that would be great.”

The Credit Crunch Song by Dry Island Buffalo Jump is available to download online at http://st-andrews.ac.uk/dibj, with a minimum suggested donation of £1.

ENDS

NOTE TO PICTURE / NEW MEDIA EDITORS:

IMAGES OF THE BAND IN ST ANDREWS ARE AVAILABLE FROM THE PRESS OFFICE – CONTACTS BELOW.

SOUND AND VIDEO CLIPS ARE ALSO AVAILABLE FROM THE PRESS OFFICE.  THE VIDEO WAS SHOT BY ST ANDREWS STUDENT JAMES SHIELD.

Issued by the Press Office, University of St Andrews.
Contact Gayle Cook, Senior Press Officer on 01334 467227 / 462529, mobile 07900 050 103, or email gec3@st-andrews.ac.uk
Ref: Credit Crunch Song 040609
View the latest University press releases at www.st-andrews.ac.uk

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