Welcome to the Dragon Folk Club

Welcome to the official blog of the Dragon Folk Club, which meets for a singers night every Friday at The Bridge Inn, Shortwood, Bristol. Everyone is welcome whether you sing, play or just listen.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Nowt so queer as folk

Benny Havens
Though it was good to see Geoff back in the fold last week, the flock was somewhat depleted from recent weeks. We hope we can build up a few more attendees, even if they aren't able to be there every week.

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 DrakeIrvin GrahamJimmy ShirlAl 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)

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

New Year 2019

Whittenham Clumps, Oxfordshire, New Year's Day 2000
(Photo: Simon Meeds)
Happy New Year to everyone, and indeed that was our theme for last Friday's Dragon Folk Club session. This week there will be no pre-planned theme, nor next week, but that will then bring us to 25 January and Burns' Night!

Last week Colin was MC and started the evening off with Rothesay-o (Roud 2142) which starts "One Hogmanay at Glesca Fair".

Steve C made on of his semi-regular appearances and started his contribution with the seasonal The Snow It Melts The Soonest (Roud 3154). Simon was nervous about pulling the rug from under Mike by singing The January Man (Dave Goulder) but Mike encouraged him to sing it.

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Christmas II 2018

We have missed a week at Dragon Folk Club and I've had a rest, so this report is looking back to our second, less official Christmas session of 2018 on 21 December and forward to our first session of 2019 on 4 January. All will welcome as usual and the New Year theme is definitely optional.

Back to Christmas II 2018 and the session was started off by MC, Colin with John Prine's Christmas In Prison.

It was very nice to see a return visit by our friends from Yorkshire, Janet and Malcolm. Malcolm read a poem in the first part of the evening about cooking the Christmas goose but he wasn't able to perform the second piece he had prepared because it was something along the lines of pass-the-parcel and needed more people than we had by the time his second spot came round.

Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Christmas 2018

A very satisfactory number of singers were present at our Christmas session last week and not only did they enjoy the singing but also the nibbles at the break - more than just the expected mince pies though there were plenty of those too. Officially this Friday's session (21 December) has no theme but if you want to continue with Christmas, Yule, Bah Humbug or anything else seasonal then no one will stop you.

MC Colin made an earlier-than-usual start with Gather Round The Family (Bonny Sartin), so it was only during Tom's first song, You've Got A Friend (Carole King), that Mike and his canine companion, Indy arrived.

Terry H was trying some of the songs he plays less frequently and some entirely new material. The first of these was Lady Franklin's Lament (Roud 487, Laws K09).

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Contemptible or unaccomplished?

We look forward to seeing hoards of you this Friday for our slightly early Christmas themed session. Come ready to perform songs, tunes, poems, monologues, stories or jokes on the subject of Christmas, Yule or Bah-Humbug, or anything really that takes your fancy. There should be mince pies for the interval.

Last week's session had no theme and the contributions were quite varied as you will see from the usual "selection" link at the bottom of this post. MC, Colin started us off on a theme of leather on willow with The Cricketers Of Hambledon (Bruce Blunt, Peter Warlock).

Geoff followed on with Nowhere Man (Lennon-McCartney) making life very easy for this scribe to find a video. Slightly more difficult to find is Derek's Three Wee Glasgow Molls (Roud 6960). Colin was the only one this time to sing a song I couldn't trace at all which should probably be an embarrassment since Mike clearly knew it and I think Derek may have known it too.

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

St Andrew's Day 2018

Saint Andrew the Apostle by Artus Wolffort
After last week's excellent St Andrew's Day session we return to a themeless evening this Friday where anything goes as long as it's acoustic and legal (although we have had songs in the past the singing of which might have got you locked up only a few years ago).

MC Colin kicked us off in appropriately Scottish mood with the poem St. Andrew's Day-A Toast by Jean Blewett which he put to a familiar tune which escapes me at the moment.

We were joined for the first time in several years by Chris S who didn't sing on previous occasions. This time he started off with his own part-finished work, Be The One To Turn To, and continued with borrowed words, singing Michael Row The Boat Ashore (Roud 11975), Drink Up Thy Zider (Adge Cutler) and Kumbaya.

It would be very easy for me to go through a variety of Scottish songs we heard through the evening, and there were plenty as you will see, but as I pointed out in the report two weeks ago, St Andrew is patron of a lot of places, professions and other things apart from Scotland, so let's go on a partial tour of those.

Wednesday, 28 November 2018


Harry Liston (1843-1929)
Despite the absence of Mike and his trusty canine companion, Indy we had a great session last week. We were joined again by Steve C and for the first time by Liz. Carl also came along having visited us before in February of this year.

Remember this weeks session (30 November) will have the theme of St Andrew's Day. I listed in last week's blog report all the patronages held by Andrew, so there's no excuse for having nothing to sing but if you are still at a loss bear in mind that we are always happy for people to offer us material that doesn't follow the theme - we may even sometimes find a connection for you.

Last week's session started with MC, Colin singing The Ee-rye-ee Canal (Roud 6599).

Liz, on her first visit, came thinking she would sing only one song, that being The Three Ravens (Roud 5, Child 26). Little did she know the persuasive capabilities of our MC. Without her realising the covert coercion being applied (only joking) she sang a further three: Whiskey In The Jar (Roud 533, Laws L13A), Away Ye Merry Lasses (Georje Holper) and The Water (Johnny Flynn).