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.

Monday, 3 March 2014

St David's Day

Phil Tanner (www.folkwales.org.uk)
This week's session was held on the eve of St David's Day, so the theme was anything vaguely related to that day, to Wales or symbols of Welshness. Well for the sake of convenience it was also stretched to whales, or rather whaling!

Mike started the evening off with Hob y Deri Dando, even singing one verse in Welsh, while Steve kicked off the pseudo theme of whaling with Bonny ship the Diamond.

Our one Welsh regular, Lesley, despite earlier promises, wasn't able to be with us, but Richard, her husband, filled in ably, singing all of his songs in Welsh. He started off with Rhyfelgyrch Gwŷr Harlech (Men of Harlech), went on to ffoles Llantrisant (Foolish Llantrisant girls) and Calon Lân (Pure heart) with words by Daniel James and tune by John Hughes). Next came fflat Huw Pugh by John Glyn Davies (link in Welsh), about legendary Welsh sailor, Huw Pugh the captain of a 60 ton "flat" ship named the Ann of Liverpool.

We had a total of four visitors at this session. Terry H, whose videos of folk singers often feature in this blog, Dave and Linda who sang both together and separately, and another visitor who didn't sing on this occasion but who I'm pleased to say was attracted to come to the Dragon Folk Club by this blog. Even more encouragingly, he has undertaken to tell his friends about us.

The first contribution by Dave and Linda (we wouldn't expect our visitors to follow the theme), was The yellow's on the broom, which they followed with The white cockade and Gordon Lightfoot's Early morning rain. Dave sang solo for The Earl of March's daughter by Lionel McClelland. Linda's solo offering was a song in cornish about fishing (sorry, I didn't catch the title but apparently the first verse was traditional and the second the work of the children of Mousehole school).

Terry H sang Banks of the Bann, modifying it to Banks of the Taff for the occasion, though Mike asked what Delaney had to do with Wales! He continued with Peggy Gordon (an early St Patrick's Day offering, perhaps) on which he demonstrated his newly acquired melodeon skills. Terry's final offering was Broom of the Cowdenknowes (Child 217), which he sang in memory of Ray Croll.

Derek decided not to sing his usual selection of Welsh songs, so he chose his songs and challenged us to work out the Welsh connection.We didn't manage to work it out even though Derek swore that his final sing made it relatively easy and that Richard would surely get it. The connection was that all of the songs came from the singing of Phil Tanner, an important traditional singer from the Gower Peninsula in Wales. In a sadly typical American faux pas, Alan Lomax, writing the sleeve notes for the 1955 album Columbia World Library of Folk and Primitive Music. Volume I England, put "When Phil died, England lost her best traditional singer".

Derek's songs from Phil Tanner were Young Henry Martin (Roud 104, Child 250), Young Roger Esquire (Roud 680) though Derek's version doesn't mention the name Roger, and Gower Wassail (Roud 209). I'm pretty sure that Derek's final song, a Lowestoft version of A-Roving was not from Tanner.

Robin's songs were all on the whaling theme: Dave Oakley's Clonakilty whaling song, Rolling down to old Maui and Rolling home. Meanwhile Colin stayed firmly on a proper Welsh theme, singing Heather Rose Jones' Welsh history 101B, Kristof Robertson's Llanfairpwllgwyngyll...gogogoch! and Dawson Smith's Children born to the valleys.

Another song with a Welsh connection, this time sung by Mike, was The Harry Brown. The song is about a Bristol sand dredger which went to Barry to be scrapped but was reprieved for service in Bahrain, only to be sunk before it got on its way. I wasn't able to find the song anywhere but this is a nice film showing the Harry Brown in Bristol's Floating Harbour.

Steve's attempt at a Welsh connection was to sing Archie Fisher's Bonnie border lass, replacing "Scots Grey" in the lyrics with "Welsh Grey". Simon sang Michelle Shocked's Memories of East Texas, which just mentions daffodils. Steve G didn't stoop so low and gave us What are they doing in heaven today by Washington Phillips, Ray LaMontagne's Jolene and a song of his own, which I will assume to be called Cruel, cruel sea (The catch of the day's on the supermarket slab).

Mike finished off the evening with Union miners stand together, noting that the version he sings is a hybrid of the American words and the English tune.

So that's it for this week's session. Please come and see us for next Friday's session (7 March 2014). There probably won't be an official theme, so there's time to invent your own before what will presumably be a St Patrick's Day session the following week.

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

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