Aiken Drum on Throwback Thursday

Today’s piece comes from member Joanie Calem. Sing and learn with her on YouTube!

Joanie Calem
Joanie Calem


I probably heard Aiken Drum as a child, but as an adult performer had forgotten about it until I saw Gemini, (twin brothers Sandor and Laszlo Slomovitz) perform it at a show they did here in Columbus a number of years back. They did it straight up, asking the audience for food suggestions. It was wonderful and simple and funny and I immediately loved it and added it to my shows. Over the years, I have noticed that visual anchors during performances seem to really help children regroup and focus, so I began doing the song with a white board and markers, drawing Aiken Drum as he gained food/body parts. I’m not sure when I put together the ladle/banjo connection! It was definitely after I began playing around with the banjo, so maybe about 5 years ago?

There is some controversy about how to pronounce our hero’s name, some saying it “aykin” drum (like a belly ache), and some saying “eiken” drum, (like Einstein). With a little bit of research, I discovered that the latter is how it is pronounced in Scotland, so that is my choice!!

When I was little, my family did a lot of camping, and a lot of singing around the campfire.  My father often drew songs like this in the dirt for us, so we could “see” the song as well as sing it.  Today is the anniversary of his birthday, so we present this song in honor of the late Sol Jacobson.  Though he was known professionally as an engineer, privately he was an amazing tenor and artist!