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, 18 January 2014

Difficulties for the report writer

Rollright Stones
(Photo: Angela Barnett)
Short on numbers again this week  but some fine chorus singing. I am trying to do some marketing for the
Dragon Folk Club and I'm sure Mike and Maggie are doing their bit but we just aren't getting the number of people in we would like.

Interestingly Derek mentioned it was the first anniversary of the blog. He wasn't quite right; I started it unilaterally a year ago last week and, having discussed it with Maggie and Mike, it went official a year ago next week. The first official report was for Burns' night last year. Since next week is Burns' night I will treat that as the anniversary.

However, that's not the whole point. The reason I started the blog was that Maggie was a little disappointed at the response (or lack of it) she had been having from the print and word-of-mouth advertising she had been doing. So maybe it is the time of year, or has it been a problem throughout the year? I don't know, that's one for Maggie to decide.

If you have any ideas of how we can encourage more people to join us at sessions please let us know. If there's anything you can do, then please do it. Now down to this weeks report...

Mike started the session off with Keith Marsden's Idlers and Skivers, which I know some people will consider topical - I try not to get too political, it only gets me into trouble.

No one seemed to pick up even a personal theme this week, so unusually, I think I'll go through the songs that I wasn't able to find on YouTube. You can follow the link at the bottom of this report to listen to the ones I did find. If nothing else this may illustrate the little difficulties I can face when writing these reports.

Having set myself a difficult task, I fall in at the deep end straight away since Derek sang a song which I haven't positively identified but I noted down one line "watched that red herring float in on the tide". Apparently there is a tradition of song about red herrings as described alongside these lyrics, which at least appear not to be too closely related to Derek's song.

I will mention one song that is on the YouTube playlist. Steve G sang a song, which he said was Joh by Four Men and a Dog. It was written by Kevin Doherty, a member of that band. For the purposes of the playlist though, I found that it had been recorded under the more logical title of Donegal breeze by Mary Black on her 1995 album, Circus. This doesn't explain why it was called "Joh" but it does illustrate that we may not have been the only people confused by the title.

Richard sometimes sings his own compositions, the words of which he helpfully has on his own web site, so it was easy enough to find his excellent Rollright stones. The thing is, I had heard Richard's song several times but not knowing about the Elder Mother I was surprised while listening to one of the folk webcasts (I can't remember for certain which one but most of those I listen to are linked from our links page) to hear the same incantation ringing out through Emily Portman's Stick, Stock, Stone.

Derek gave us another puzzling song, this time presenting us with double entendres to compete with any Carry On film. The main part of the chorus was "It's a very small cock but it's all I've got and it's nothing to do with you". Of course it was ostensibly about a cockerel, though Mike commented that Derek had in any case kept to the relatively "clean" version.

Richard's next untraceable offering was The leprechaun which turns out to be a poem by Robert Dwyer Joyce or Patrick Weston Joyce I have seen both claimed and I can't yet see how to work out which is correct.

It was Richard who presented difficulties again with what appeared initially to be Thomas the rhymer. That wouldn't be so difficult since Richard is known to use Steeleye Span's repertoire from time to time but after a few verses of what seemed to be reasonably "straight" words it seemed to diverge from normality. I don't know whether this was written by Richard or was sourced from elsewhere.

Derek's next puzzle was a version of Clementine sung to the hymn tune Cwm Rhondda. That's straightforward enough until he gets to the verse that says she may have survived had resuscitation been administered. To be fair, Derek tried to put me on the right track by saying that it was from the singing of Ian McCulloch but in a way that made it worse. It wouldn't have been Ian McCulloch, lead singer of Echo and the Bunnymen but presumably Ian McCulloch (Durham). To add even more confusion, I have found references that give the impression singing Clementine to Cwm Rhondda came from the Ian Campbell Folk Group.

And that's it for those songs untraced on YouTube this week. I'm not complaining about the little difficulties, it's all good fun really.

Simon finished off the evening with The good old colony times.

As already mentioned in passing at the start of this report, next week will be our Burns' Night session, so please come along and if you have any Scottish songs, be ready to sing them.

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

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