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.

Sunday, 6 October 2013


Bonnie Koloc
This week's session was that annual festival of food, produce and giving - Harvest. Not only was the theme "harvest" but this time, unlike all our other sessions, there was the potential of being fined if you didn't follow the theme. There was a raffle for the produce people had bought and a collection pot in case any remaining money was burning a hole in your pocket. The money raised will be donated to BUST.

The fund was given a flying start by a donation last week from Steve, who knew he wouldn't be able to attend. Despite the small number of people (Maggie said it was her quietest harvest ever) the money soon started rolling in.

Occasional visitor Jan asked for advice on fixing a problem with her garden water feature. Both Steve G and Mike were quick to oblige. You don't have to come to the Dragon Folk Club just for folk music, you know.

Mike kicked off with John Barleycorn, promising fines for anyone else singing a version of the same song. Last year there were four versions sung: two by Colin alone. Before Richard could follow on, we were joined very briefly by the mysterious singer who drops in from time to time, often drunk, sings a verse of a French song and disappears again.

Richard's first contribution when he got to make it was Now westlin winds, a Robert Burns song written for Peggy Thompson and from the singing of Dick Gaughan. He continued with Harvest Home, followed by The brisk young ploughboy and The seasons round, both from the singing of the Copper Family.

Derek explained why he doesn't know many harvest songs, and most of the ones he knows, he doesn't like. Once in the early 70s he was doing some research at Cecil Sharp House when he came across a particularly good Suffolk Harvest Home. The librarian came over to him and said it was interesting that this particular manuscript had lain unread for years and suddenly two people were interested in it within a week. Derek asked who was the other person. The librarian replied that it was Martin Carthy, and Derek gave up there and then. To rub salt into the wound, Derek doesn't believe that Martin has ever recorded the song.

Given this story, Derek picked a non-harvest song that at least sounded as though it might be about the harvest. This was an unusual version of Child Ballad #2. Child #2 refers to the Elfin Knight, probably the origin of the better known Scarborough Fair. The version that Derek sings has Strawberry Lane as its destination and the first refrain is "Every rose shall grow merry betimes" (similar to Child #2H or #2M).

Derek's other songs included Waxies dargle and Barbara Allen.

Colin's saw us travel (metaphorically) to Trunch to hear Sid Kipper's The stick of rhubarb, discuss the growing of rhubarb and the possible sexual symbolism of the work. Colin's other contributions were A song of thanksgiving by Mar Yaakov HaMizrachi, Benjamin's overgrown onion by Bristol band, Stackridge, and Leon Rosselson's Flying high, flying free.

Steve G's first song of the night was The Incredible String Band's The circle is unbroken. He followed up later with Washington Phillips' song, What are they doing in heaven today?, Johnny Cash's I still miss someone, and Loudon Wainwright III's One man guy.

Jan's contributions started with Daddy, you've been on my mind, the female-adjusted version of Bob Dylan's Mama, you been on my mind, sung by Joan Baez and Judy Collins. She continued with Bonnie Koloc's Roll me on the water. Unfortunately she was called out and was unable to sing to us any more of her repertoire on this occasion.

Simon, like Derek, claimed a dearth of harvest songs in his repertoire. Buttercup Joe and When all men sing (words by Keith Scowcroft, tune by Derek Gifford [corrected]) were on fairly safe ground, but Plover catcher (Elizabeth Padgett) and Big bamboo (The Jolly Boys) were more tenuous.

Mike claimed the "harvest of the sea" for Shoals of Herring. He continued in his usual admirably robust style with Ale, ale, glorious ale and finished us off with Drink, boys, drink (the harvest supper song). Except, that wasn't quite it for the evening since Mike had just finished his song when Keith burst into the room (his first appearance of the evening) and offered to sing. So the evening was completed with Keith singing Ry Cooder's The very thing that makes you rich (makes me poor).

The final figure collected for BUST was over £30 which was not bad considering the small group of people who gathered for the harvest session.

Here's a selection of these songs plus some others sung during the session.


  1. When all men sing was written by Graham Schofield

    1. Hi Mike, I've removed the attribution for "When all men sing" because it seems unclear who wrote it. The performance I linked this week is certainly Graham Schofield, but I haven't found anywhere saying he wrote it. I respect your knowledge; the most common attribution I've found is "words by Keith Scowcroft, tune by Derek Gifford" but that doesn't necessarily make it right.

  2. on checking your right and unthinkably I am wrong