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, 21 April 2014

Good Friday to Easter

This week's session was held on Good Friday. In the Christian tradition this commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and is therefore a sombre day, preceding his glorious resurrection on Easter Sunday. We only have one session a week though, so this one has to cover the whole week-end. We had songs representing, more or less literally, the events of the whole weekend, and some with no particular relevance at all.

Mike started off the evening with the Pace Egging song. The Pace Egg Plays are traditional village plays, with a rebirth theme, in which St George smites all challengers and the fool, Toss Pot, rejoices. The drama takes the form of a combat between the hero and villain, in which the hero is killed and brought to life, often by a quack doctor. The plays take place in England during Easter, indeed the word 'Pace' comes from the old English word 'pasch' literally meaning 'Easter'. They are a tradition that was once widespread throughout England, but is now only practiced in a few areas, particularly Lancashire and West Yorkshire.

Tom's first song was Paul Metsers' Farewell to the gold. Later on he brought out his banjo, which I christened his "red dust" banjo, to sing Buddy Holly's Raining in my heart (written by Felice Bryant and Boudleaux Bryant).Steve G had also brought along his banjo and used it as accompaniment on Loudon Wainwright III's Dump the dog and feed the garbage. The reason for the banjos (not duelling) was that Mike, having recently bought a banjo, was on the look-out for tips on playing.

The session was quite heavy with Bob Dylan songs. Steve G kicked this off with It's all over now, baby blue. Lesley was nervous to follow that with her rendition of the Good Friday-appropriate Masters of war ("Like Judas of old you lie and deceive"). This led Steve G to think of the seasonal mention in Just like Tom Thumb's blues ("When you’re lost in the rain in Juarez and it’s Eastertime too").

Stretching the Dylan connection slightly, Derek joked that Pete Seeger was Judas (Child 23), which he had just sung. This referred to two incidents around the controversy caused by Bob Dylan "going electric". The first incident occurred at the Newport Folk Festival on 24 July 1965, when Pete Seeger allegedly attacked the electric cables powering Dylan's instruments with a fire axe. The second occurred at a gig in Manchester in 1966 when a fan, whose identity is unknown though several have claimed it, shouted "Judas".

The second, probably unintentional, tenuous Dylan link came from Richard, who sang Eli Jenkins' prayer from Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas. In his memoir, Bob Dylan acknowledged that he had been influenced by the poetry of Dylan Thomas. Explaining his change of name (from Robert Zimmerman) in a 2004 interview, Dylan remarked: "You're born, you know, the wrong names, wrong parents. I mean, that happens. You call yourself what you want to call yourself. This is the land of the free.". Richard also commented that the "prayer" is sung to Troyte's chant, written by Arthur Henry Dyke Troyte.

Colin sang a number of religious songs, the most sing-along-able being Sydney Carter's Lord of the dance. I must not forget to mention that Colin brought along his daughter, Imogen, who was a regular at the club before she left school and moved on to other places. Imogen was going to sing for us in the second half but nerves or maybe lack of practice got the better of her and we were all disappointed but Mike made it clear that he blamed Colin, whose shoulders are broad enough to take it!

There was a surprisingly large number of other songs which had a more or less obvious connection with Good Friday or Easter Sunday.

Mike finished off with a definite resurrection song: The Mary Ellen Carter by Stan Rogers.

There are two notable things about next week's session. The first is that it is our St George's Day session, so songs of England, St George and dragons will be most welcome. The second thing is that Neil will return with his camera to film us, so think about whether you are prepared to be filmed, and if so, you might like to prepare yourself with one or more songs you would like to go down "on the record". If you aren't happy to be filmed, that's OK, just make it clear and Neil will avoid filming you.

Here's a selection of these and other songs sung during the session.

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