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, 13 March 2019

For the love of women

Last week's session had no official theme but Derek said that he had created one for himself and asked us to guess what it was. No one quite got it but he admitted in the end it was for International Women's Day, which it was. More specifically, all his songs for the evening were sung from the point of view of a woman. I'll mention all of Derek's songs but I'll try to extract the female themes from the songs of our other singers too.

First of all, a reminder that this week's session will have a St Patrick's Day theme. I'll leave it up to you to decide what that can mean for you since there is quite a lot of scope.

MC Colin started us off with George Papavgeris' Friends Like These.

Derek's first song from a woman's point of view was The Jacket Green (Michael Scanlon - Roud 9520) - no one said they would have been written by women. His second was Waiting For The Pit Bus which was written by Vera Rutherford. I'm afraid I have no more information about song or writer.

Derek's third song from a female perspective was his own Lament For The Fishing. Another song from Derek was in a similar vein to I'll Dance Upon Your Grave, but it wasn't that and I can't find it anywhere.

Colin gave us All Day Singing - "Come along Mary and set by me" and we were back to Derek for The Doffing Mistress (Roud 2133).

Geoff sang The Tinkerman's Daughter (Michael MacConnell) the words of which were inspired by a poem, The Red-Headed Ann by Sigerson Clifford.

I'm not sure whether we can count Simon's singing of Mike Harding's Uncle Joe's Mint Balls as on topic but there I've done it anyway - "Give 'em to your Granny and watch the bugger go!".

While Silver And Gold (Bryn Phillips), sung by Colin is really about a former miner, his daughter, for whom he makes a wedding dress, is an important character.

Derek's next song was a version of Lord Gregory (Roud 49, Child 76) although not identical to the one linked here.

Simon gave us three, or really four ladies, if we can describe them as such, with Three Drunken Maidens (Roud 252).

Colin's next song wasn't on the theme of women but I promised him some help with its origins. He sang the version of False Knight On The Road (Roud 20, Child 3) which can be found on Steeleye Span's album, Please To See The King. He was puzzled to note that they seemed to have recorded a totally different version of the same song. In fact this isn't quite so, it was actually Tim Hart and Maddy Prior (who have both been members of the band) who recorded it on their own album, Summer Solstice. To add to the confusion, both albums came out in 1971. It seems that the Steeleye version is Irish or Scottish, whereas the Hart and Prior version comes indirectly from the singing of Maud Long, whose mother, Jane Gentry, was one of the singers from whom Cecil Sharp gathered songs in North Carolina in 1916.

Derek gave us a mixture of Gaelic and English with Siúil A Rún and from that sublime example Geoff took us straight to the ridiculous with Tommy Makem's In The Town Of Ballybay.

Colin evoked dearest Nancy with Pleasant And Delightful (Roud 660, Laws O30). Comedy sound effects and actions, traditionally supplied by Mike and Maggie were filled in by Derek and to some extent Simon.

Derek gave us four ladies or to be more accurate Four Marys (Roud 79, Child 173) in an abridged version he had never previously attempted. I think the intention was to sing only those parts related directly by a female character in order to fit the strictures of his own chosen theme.

Geoff introduced us to the bewitching Miss Henrietta Bell in Courting In The Kitchen (Roud 1007, Laws Q16).

Simon closed the evening, swerving seriously (if taken literally) off topic with When All Men Sing (Keith Scowcroft, Derek Gifford).

Here's a selection of songs sung during this session.

(Number of people present - 5, of whom 5 performed)

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

St David's Day 2019

Last week's session was on St David's Day so that was our theme. Unfortunately we were still at rock bottom for attendance. We manage to have good sessions but it would be a lot more pleasure if you were with us to add your contributions and to enjoy the banter.

Colin ably MCed as usual and introduced the theme with Welsh History 101 by Heather Rose Jones.

Derek's first contribution may seem a little negative about those from across the Wye but in fact he has plenty of historical justification for singing Taffy Was A Welshman (Roud 19237) because the first verse appeared in something like its current form in Nancy Cock's Pretty Song Book, printed in London in about 1780.

Thursday, 28 February 2019

Short but I hope sweet

Frontispiece depicting Juvenal and Persius,
from a volume translated
by John Dryden in 1711
It's a really short report of last week's session I'm afraid due to lack of time but first of all, please remember that this Friday's session will be our theme for St David's Day, so it's mainly Welsh but remember that he is also patron of poets and vegetarians, Pembrokshire and Naas in County Kildare, Ireland.

Colin started us off with The Bos'n The Gunner And Me (Francis Barron, Henry Trotere).

Simon spent the evening singing songs he had left over from Valentine's Day the week before, starting with No Sir No (Roud 146). Inspired by the line "If my hand should slip a little further" from the previous song, classicist Derek told the story of a young lady who had studied Juvenal's Satires  and had always wanted to know the meaning of an obscure Latin word used when one character's hand was slipped up the clothing of another character. She found the biggest and best Latin dictionary in the University library, and found that the word was translated... into its Greek equivalent. Now keen to get to the bottom of the mystery, she found the biggest and best Greek dictionary, where the Greek word was translated... back into the Latin! Derek sang Sullivan's John (Pecker Dunne).

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Valentine's Day - 2019

(Photo: Simon Meeds)
Last week's Valentine's Day session brought out many tales of love and lust as well as a couple of unrelated but timely anniversaries.

Before I get started with the report we have some parish announcements since we are coming to peak theme season. All of the following themes are optional; you are always welcome to come along and perform anything you wish, or indeed take your place as an audience member, but if you can match the theme with one or two songs, stories or any other type of acoustic performance then so much the better. Where no theme is given for a particular Friday night it doesn't mean we don't meet, we almost always do, it's just that there is no specific theme planned, so come along with your own theme or none as you wish.

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Digging deep

William Keating being recorded in the Pottsville Public Library
(Photograph from the George Korson Collection,
American Folklife Center, Library of Congress)
After a Friday where snow stopped play for the players of the Dragon Folk Club, we were back at the folk face again last week though somewhat depleted in numbers.

Colin, the MC, started the session off with Midnight Special (Roud 6364), a song made famous by Lead Belly. There followed Simon's opener which was King Of Rome (Dave Sudbury).

Derek pointed out that I had incorrectly linked in a recent report to Ewan MacColl's Jamie Foyers rather than the traditional Jamie Foyers (Roud 1941). Apparently in an attempt to annoy me, this week Derek sang the MacColl version but I remain cool. The traditional song is set during the Peninsular War of 1807-1814, whereas MacColl's song, based on the original, is set during the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939.

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Burns' Night 2019

Broadside ballad entitled
'A Huy and Cry After Sir John Barlycorn'
by Alexander Pennecuik, 1725
Last week's Burns' Night session led to the singing of many Scottish or Scottish-related songs, and some Burns could even, however debatably, hang his name on. This Friday there doesn't seem to be an official theme though the start of the rugby internationals may give inspiration to some.

Also last week, we enjoyed the company of first time visitors Stuart and Pete, regulars I believe at FAF (Folk Around Fishponds) who mostly performed together, some well-knows songs, and some self-penned.

Colin, our regular MC, started the evening off with Captain Beaky's take on Scottish Tradition, The Haggis Season (Jeremy Lloyd, Jim Parker).

Stuart and Pete were reasonably unprepared for our theme and started off their contribution with the surprisingly old The Cat Came Back written by Harry S Miller, which was published in 1893. Colin persuaded them, as is the tradition with duos, to sing two songs per round, at least in the first part of the evening. Their second was Ukelele Man, telling, in the form of Jerry Reed's Guitar Man, of Pete's challenge of finding places to play his instrument.

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

North East and North West

F. Parker Glass Plate
King George V Bridge, Newcastle-on-Tyne
Last week's session had no theme but as often some emerged as the evening went on. In fact at the beginning we thought we weren't going to be quorate and were resigned to singing a couple of songs each and calling it a night when who should turn up but Mike and his canine companion and occasional singer (OK, howler and winer) Indy.

Colin kicked off the evening with I Wish They'd Do It Now (Roud 1401). Derek picked up on the first line of the song, "I was born of Geordie parents" and decided to make Geordies his chosen theme, for a while at least. He warmed up with Jowl Jowl And Listen (Roud 3191).

Simon wasn't yet ready to join in that theme, so he gave us Sally Gardens (Roud V28639) which as has been noted here before, WB Yeats wrote based on half-remembered snatches of The Rambling Boys Of Pleasure (Roud 386).