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, 23 August 2014

Is this the folk club?

Cyril Poacher
Talk at the beginning of the evening included a number of subjects. Maggie had received a letter from BUST thanking her for the club's recent donation, the raffle money from her birthday party. The donation was of £35.00 which seems worthwhile and will go a small way to the charity's "shopping list".

In another topic we made it absolutely clear that non-performers as well as performers are welcome to the club's sessions. The atmosphere at the club can be quite jokey, and everyone needs a fairly thick skin but no one should feel unwelcome, even if they are on the receiving end of some mild digs. Don't worry, newbies, we are usually very gentle with newcomers.

Finally, there was mention of Richard and Lesley's recent trip to Paris. Apparently it was very enjoyable, and it prompted some of the songs sung during the evening.

A little way into the first half, a young lady poked her head round the door and asked "Is this the folk club?" and when she heard it was, asked "What do you do?". Well the answer seemed obvious enough: "We sing". She said in that case she would bring her family in, returning soon after with her boyfriend and her parents. They were certainly very welcome visitors and even better it sounds as though, having enjoyed their visit, they may return. I'm afraid they didn't tell us their names, so let's hope we get an opportunity to learn them in the future.

Mike started off the session with We're all surrounded which he had failed to complete the week before, collapsing into a coughing fit. Richard asked what the song was about and Mike explained it was a shanty adapted from a "negro spiritual".

Derek said he had recently heard a recording made at a folk festival of Cyril Poacher singing The nutting girl (Roud 509). That in itself wasn't unusual since he apparently always sang that song. What was unusual was that despite having sung it probably thousands of times, on that occasion he came unstuck on the second verse, totally forgetting the words. He restarted from the beginning but got the tune entirely wrong, having just sung the first verse without a hitch the first time round. Only when he got to the chorus did Percy Webb and others join in and put him on the right track [I know the feeling]. Derek said it is the only time he has heard such a thing from a traditional singer. They will sometimes start a new song, incorrectly using the tune of the previous song [I think I've done that too] or just get the wrong tune but on this occasion Cyril just couldn't find a tune among the notes. Derek said that The nutting girl [go to 03:12 in this video to find the song] is not in his usual repertoire but he sang it anyway, saying that if he encountered any problems, it was just that he was following Cyril's lead. He had no noticeable problems whatsoever. Later Derek sang a song When Cyril Poacher sung, which I assume Derek wrote himself and maybe about his own experience in the The Ship in Blaxhall, Suffolk.

Richard definitely themed himself in the first half around his recent trip to France with Cam ye o'er frae France (Roud 5814), Jethro Tull's To cry you a song (not to be confused with Jethro Tull who invented the seed drill, and in fact Ian Anderson has recently spoken of his feelings of guilt at using the name, which apparently wasn't of his own choosing). He also pointed out after Simon sang Dave Sudbury's King of Rome that that title was bestowed by Napoleon I upon his son, who was later to become Napoleon II. After that Simon just had to sing Chevaliers de la table ronde. Mike also sang Paris here I come.

Lesley embarrassed herself with an unintended double entendre in introducing The saucy sailor (Roud 531) but maybe it was at least in line with the theme of the song.

On the second round, Mike sang The wild goose.When he finished the mother of the unnamed family remarked that she had known it for years... she had it on an LP of the Bristol Shantymen. Of course this pleased Mike no end, since he is a member of that very shanty group. The father of the family went on to recall how in his youth he was listening to a Cream LP (Disraeli Gears) when at the end of the second side the band members sang an unaccompanied version of Mother's lament he has always remembered the words and sang it to us - most of us were able to join in. The song is actually Your Baby 'as Gorn Dahn the Plug'ole and was apparently written by Jack Spade (a pseudonym of Elton Box, Desmond Cox and Lewis Ilda (Irwin Dash)). It was the song sung by Martin Carthy on his first solo recording.

Terry usually has with him a list of the songs he sings. I believe he marks down the date and place he sings the song, presumably so that he doesn't repeat the same one too often at any particular venue. Unfortunately he had not brought the right list with him tonight. I don't know what list he had but Simon suggested it might have been his punk rock list! Nevertheless he managed to sing several songs including Mike Canavan's The knocker-upper man.

Mike finished off the session with John Tams' Rolling home.

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

(Number of people present - 12, of which 8 performed)

1 comment:

  1. Although I have visited the Blaxhall Ship, the bulk of the inspiration for this song comes from reading Ginette Dunn's wonderful book The Fellowship of Song, based on her interviews with the surviving singers, and relatives of the deceased ones. Highly recommended.