There was no official theme and Colin started us off with Benny Havens Oh! (Roud 15581). Benny Havens served as a first lieutenant in the British-American War of 1812. By 1832 he was living in a cottage at West Point, the United States Military Academy. Initially he sold ale, cider, and buckwheat cakes, later diversifying into stronger drinks which saw him expelled from the military reservation in 1832.
Shortly after his expulsion, Benny Havens opened a tavern about a mile and a half from cadet barracks. Cadets would illicitly visit the establishment. Havens died in 1877 and his tavern still exists but has been moved.
During the American Civil War the song was widely sung in the army, and many army verses were improvised. During the summer of 1865 when boatloads of returning soldiers passed Benny's daily, the bands would strike up 'Benny Havens, Oh!' while hundreds of voices joined in the song.
While as already mentioned, there was no theme, the evening was marked by one feature. While the Dragon Folk Club is obviously based around a core of folk song, we often drift off into other genres. This session however involved more drifting perhaps than usual, so this report will concentrate on it for once, but don't be misled into thinking this is the usual state of affairs.
I won't get into the discussion of "what is folk" because therein lies many hours of discussion which almost always ends in conflict. Let's agree though for the purposes of this report that the drift which was closest to the mark was the inclusion of Country and Western and related genres.
Geoff was the first to head West with Folsom Prison Blues (Johnny Cash). Derek, who teaches, said that the caretaker at his school plays recordings from time to time and that this song is the one he seems to play most frequently. Derek is not sure whether it is supposed to have some significance.
Simon followed up with John Denver's song, Grandma's Feather Bed and later gave us Jolene (Dolly Parton). Simon suggested that the latter was at least a folky theme in that it is about a woman who feels wronged by another who is aiming at her man. He said though it could not really be folk since no murder was involved. Derek took this as a prompt to sing Lord Thomas And Fair Annet (Roud 4, Child 73) which does involve murder.
We can skim over discussions of whether artists such as Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and Cat Stevens are folk. It depends on who you ask, what mood they're in and whether you want to keep all your appendages.
Geoff came up with an unusual but well-received comedy number by Don Caron, Little Duffer Boy, a parody of the Christmas song Little Drummer Boy and a dig at the Donald. Simon's rendition of Marriott Edgar's Recumbent Posture was of a type also not too unusual at the club. Geoff once again flirted with normality, saying rather than singing A Song Of The Weather (Michael Flanders, Donald Swann).
We have had problems recently with the catch on the door to our room which without effective and rarely achieved special measures, swings open at any opportunity. It was on one such occasion when Derek sang just one line of The Barring Of The Door (Roud 115, Child 275) making the point that he doesn't like the song. Colin seemed disappointed because he does like it.
Geoff sang two songs from the pen of Mac Davis: In The Ghetto and It's Hard To Be Humble.
We went temporarily totally off the rails when Geoff sang Jim Steinman's Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad, followed by Simon with Surfin' USA (Brian Wilson, Chuck Berry) and Colin with I Believe (Ervin Drake, Irvin Graham, Jimmy Shirl, Al Stillman).
Derek brought us back on track, finishing the evening with a song from the Beeching era of railway closures, The Journey Tae Fyvie (Bill Smith).
Here's a selection of songs sung during this session.
(Number of people present - 4, of whom 4 performed)