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.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Richard in charge

John Jacob Niles
Mike and Maggie were absent from this week's session as planned, so Richard was in charge. Officially there was no theme but "A song what (sic) Mike sings" seemed like a good idea, and about half of us took part.

Richard kicked off with The Holmfirth Anthem. Derek and Simon both followed on with more songs from Mike's repertoire.

Second time round Derek contributed one of many songs starting "When I roamed out on a May morning". He also told the story of a BBC radio programme of the late 1940s and early 50s. They visited traditional singers and originally asked whether they knew any folk songs. Having never heard the term, they usually said they did not. They then tried asking whether they knew any old songs, to which they tended to sing songs which were maybe twenty years old. Finally they worked out that the best question to start with was whether they knew any songs starting "When I roamed out on a May morning". There are so many songs starting that way that they usually knew one. When it had been sung the next question was "Do you know any more like that?".

Phil read one of his poems. This one was entitled "A worm's eye view of progress" and told of Phil's dislike for television and superstores, preferring to read and to buy from corner shops.

Alan K sang Go 'way from my window, written by John Jacob Niles in 1908 when he was just 16. Alan described Niles as being like an American Cecil Sharp. The song has been recorded by a number of singers, including Joan Baez, and was to some extent the inspiration for Bob Dylan's It ain't me babe.

Richard and Derek started discussing the body count in various songs, at which Derek sang Cohort of the damned (body count one million). Simon was challenged to sing Roy Bailey's The burning times (body count nine million) but declined.

Richard pointed out that Steve G's first two songs, both from Ray Lamontagne, had titles which were uncharacteristically easy to guess from the lyrics - Steve has a bit of a reputation for singing songs with obscure titles.

Phil introduced some "theology" to proceedings with Plastic Jesus, written by Ed Rush and George Cromarty in 1957.

Simon pointed out that Mike and Maggie's absence wasn't just a chance to sing Mike's songs, but also to sing songs Maggie doesn't like. His next song, George Gershwin's Summertime from Porgy and Bess, was however the only contribution on that score.

Colin carried on his shanty theme with Roll the woodpile down and later Around me brave boys. Derek also contributed "a song I don't sing" with Essequibo River.

The evening was rounded off by Richard singing Allister MacGillivray's Coal Town Road.

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