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.

Thursday, 31 December 2015

Alan Mitchell - RIP

Alan Mitchell finally succumbed to his cancer at his home on 30 December 2015.

In spite of being confined to a wheelchair in recent months, he never stopped attending folk clubs. A long-time regular at The Dragon Folk Club, his last appearance was at Maggie Starkey's 'Retirement Bash' on the 4 December when he performed Runcorn Ferry ('Per tuppence, per person, per trip'), one of the many Marriott Edgar monologues in his repertoire, and in his treasured volume of Edgar's works. For those who wish to be reminded of Alan's dry, witty delivery, there is film of his reciting this monologue on Terry Helyar's YouTube pages (see YouTube playlist embedded below).

Besides the Dragon, he was also a regular at the Nova, Crossed Hands, Somerville, Salt Cellar, Bath, and many more clubs beside, all over the Bristol area. And as well as the monologues he accompanied himself on guitar with a range of songs from the traditional Dalesman's Litany to Roger Davies' Brighouse on a Saturday Night via Guthrie's Los Gatos Canyon.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Christmas 2015

Photo by macinate at Flickr
We were quite thin on the ground for our Christmas session, partly perhaps because it was slightly earlier than usual and partly because it was lower key, having had the mega-bash for Maggie's retirement the week before.

Important news, also posted elsewhere is that there will be no Dragon Folk Club sessions on 18 or 25 December, nor on 1 January, when the New Inn is closed. So we will be back and raring to go on 8 January 2016 when themes could range from Boxing Day, through New Year and Twelfth Night to, well, anything you fancy. Just please be there to see the old year out, albeit belatedly, and welcome the new year in.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Maggie's retirement bash

Maggie S
Maggie S arrived to last week's session, mince pies in hand, almost convinced that it was our Christmas session but in fact it was a party to honour her contributions to the club over the last 30 or so years that she has been first its treasurer and then the overall organiser. A very good crowd turned out to mark the occasion. In practice Colin took over a few weeks ago but there's no problem with an excuse for a party.

With so many friends old and new appearing throughout the first half it seemed we'd never start on a second round, so rather than miss anyone out, I will try to list all of the songs sung on this occasion - though I will struggle with a couple of them.

Simon had arrived indecently early to help with the set-up, not that there was much to do, so Colin asked him to start off proceedings.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

St Andrew's Day 2015

The Saltire (Cross of St Andrew)
While there was no official theme this week Richard, as at the same time last year, pointed out that this was our closest session to St Andrew's Day, so a thin veneer of Scots Pine came over the club.

While we weren't exactly a huge throng it was "pleasant and delightful" to be joined by Gary, who hasn't attended for a while, by Terry H, who probably hasn't previously been to our current venue, and by Malcolm, a newcomer to the club and happy to sit and listen to the rest of us make fools of ourselves! (Only joking)

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

A military hang-over

North flank of Kinder Scout
A reasonable turn-out this week included a long-awaited return by Paul, who has moved slightly further away from us and hadn't previously joined us at our current venue. There was no theme although Derek found himself singing military songs all evening for no particular reason except that the songs of other people inspired him.

Colin was MC and Mike started off the evening with Hanging On The Old Barbed Wire (Roud 9618), which he had failed to sing the previous week for remembrance.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Remembrance - 2015

As last week's session marking Remembrance continued, news of the massacre in Paris started to unfold on my phone. I didn't mention it to those assembled as the scale of the incident wasn't yet clear and I didn't want to disrupt proceedings, but it now seems somehow appropriate that we were remembering past conflicts and mostly asking for peace. I don't want to dwell on it too much but I'm sure we would all want to offer support to those in Paris and the rest France who we know, and those we don't.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Campfire songs and more

The Gunpowder Plotters
Last week's theme was campfire songs to mark Bonfire Night. Attendance was rather sparse, not least because of the tendency of dogs having to look after their owners at this time of year lest they take fright at the noise of fireworks - these dog owners can be very flighty.

The linked recordings are of particularly variable quality because of the nature of some of the songs sung - par for the course with this theme.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Halloween 2015

Stanton Drew stone circle
(photo: Simon Meeds)
So, after last week's session the handover has officially been made. Maggie has retired from running the club and Colin is the new master: holder of "the book" and the money bag (sometimes affectionately called "the scrotum"), which Mike made forty years ago. We hope and believe that Mike and Maggie will still be regulars at the club but this move takes some of the responsibility from Maggie's shoulders which she has borne for so long.

The themes this week were Halloween and Australia/New Zealand (being the finalists in the Rugby World Cup). I think almost all, if not all songs met the former theme and a couple gave a nod to the latter.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Happy Birthday Mike H

A slightly better-attended session last week heard the big news that had been rumbling all week. Maggie has decided to retire from running the club and after the next session (30 October 2015) and will be handing to baton to Colin. Mike reminds Colin that you are only ever lent the reins of the Dragon Folk Club.

In preparation for taking over, Colin suggested to Mike that the next session would have a theme of Halloween. Mike accepted the suggestion, adding that it might also involve Australia and New Zealand (a rugby reference), so that gives a bit of scope to everyone.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Tumbleweed blows over Westerleigh

Frank Harte
I admit I have had to stretch a point in this report to make things look reasonable. Yes, there were only four of us last Friday, although we were joined in the bar by a couple who while not entirely involved in what we were doing didn't seem to consider it objectionable, so I've included them in the count.

Colin was MC for the evening and he asked Derek to start us off. It later transpired that Derek was suffering from some nasty lurgy but he soldiered on with Johnny Doyle (as requested the linked recording is Frank Harte).

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Terry - Profile

This article is one of a series on regulars at the club.

Terry first came to the club in about 1976. His songs range from ant-war through mining, maritime and love songs to humour. He plays the guitar, melodeon and mandolin.

He discovered folk clubs in about 1976: Chipping Sodbury and Iron Acton clubs, the latter being the ancestor of the Dragon Folk Club. The atmosphere was so friendly and everyone joined in the choruses; it soon inspired him to learn some songs, initially singing unaccompanied. Some time later he bought a guitar, which he still uses and learned enough to accompany himself.

Terry started morris dancing in 1988. He says it's never too late: he was fifty five then and even now he still manages one or two dances in an evening.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Not a dangerous sport?

Kathleen Behan
(Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
With Richard and Lesley on holiday in Auld Reekie we could have been very thin on the ground this week but we were saved by a rare appearance from Tom, and the presence of our two friendly morris dancers: Terry and Sean. In particular it was good to see Sean on his second visit during his convalescence from a dance-related injury. He promises to return, which is a very good thing.

Colin took up the MC's mantel and invited Derek to start us off which he did with The Rambler From Clare.

Mike's first song of the evening was Tom Lewis' Recall.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Best Known To Fame

The Runcorn Ferry (Old Ted, The Boatman)
drawing by John Hassall
We started off a bit thin on the ground last week; in fact it seemed that few of us that there were, we were perhaps the only people in the pub. However we gained a few people during the evening and some more appeared in the other bar as well.

Richard was MC and he started off with Bessie Of Ballantown Brae (Laws P28). Lesley's singing of A Kiss In The Morning Early set her going on a theme of cobblers ("And off to the shoemaker's shop sure she goes For a kiss in the morning early") which she followed up with more rubbish (I jest) in the shape of Cobbler's Daughter (Kate Rusby). I have previously credited Cobbler's Daughter to Kate Rusby and have not been challenged. This time I found a video claiming to predate Kate's singing of the song but I'm not sure I believe it. Your comments on this matter would be very welcome.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Forty Years On

Photo by Simon Meeds
With many of last week’s absentees recaptured and brought back in chains, our numbers reached 11 (9 singers), liberally supplemented with our canine Honourary Members. The latter led to Leslie having to perform songs such as To Be A Pharmacist whilst simultaneously trying to calm either the Waggy or the Howlly.

We were happy to welcome new blood in the shape of Sean. Sean is a Morris Mate of Terry, but unfortunately for him, fortunately for us, had been invalided out of this week’s morris practice with Plantar Fasciitis, or Morris Dancer’s Heel as it is always called in Holby City. Although claiming not to have been in a folk club for 40 years, he had no difficulties in entertaining us with traditional material (Child 81 Little Musgrave/Matty Groves) and some self-penned songs including Ribbons and Bells – a tribute to Morris Dancers with unfasciated plantars. Derek is already learning the words of Forty Years On: but hopefully Sean's next visit will be much sooner than that! We even let him win the raffle….

Sunday, 20 September 2015

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers

photo by Hamish McConnochie
Many of us were afraid that the above words, famously used by Henry V on his last visit to the club (in those days still at Iron Acton) would be needed to describe this week's meeting, given that regulars Mike, Maggie S, Colin, Simon and Martin Carthy were all away on jaunts.

But happily a respectable 8 (7 singers) appeared and when Roger appropriately for the time of year sang Kurt Weill's September Song it was merely the days, not the audience, which had 'dwindled down to a precious few.'

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Mini themes galore

CSS Alabama
The report has to be a quick one this week before I hand over to the deputy scribe, and I'm afraid there won't be any YouTube links.

Next week's Dragon Folk Club session could be very thin on the ground, so if you are an occasional or lapsed dragon, I would encourage you to make a special effort to come and support the club; the more of us there are, the happier the landlord is.

This week's session was MCed by Richard who started off with The Lark In The Morn.

Mike said his first song was about a place that could be very cold, at which Colin and Derek suggested, almost in unison, Weston-Super-Mare. An amusing suggestion, but not what Mike intended. He rather gave us a sing-a-long favourite that I don't think he's done for a while: Lish Young Buy-A-Broom (Roud 1865) - the intended location being Kirkby Stephen.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

No hopers, jokers, rogues and... loggers?

Edith Fowke
After a couple of well-populated weeks we were slightly down on numbers. Colin had met someone who had spoken of going to a folk club at The George in Chipping Sodbury in the early 1970s. Mike remembered it well and we were treated to various stories of that club, which was apparently a strictly singers' (no instruments) off-shoot of a more general club.

This will be the last time for a few weeks that I'm able to include the customary links to YouTube, so make the most of them while they're here. If you enjoy listening to my playlists you might like to visit some of the older blog posts until normal service is resumed. Despite the lack of video links I hope that there will be blog reports, so do look in to see what's been going on.

Richard was MC and started us off with The Boy That Burned In Berryville Jail which was followed by Lesley's rendition of the Kipper Family's Bored Of The Dance.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Somewhat unconventional

USS Portsmouth
It is advertised on this blog that Dragon Folk Club starts at 8:15pm when in fact it's not a secret that the music rarely gets going much before 8:30pm. The earlier time is however useful because you can pretty much guarantee that the regulars start drifting in around then, so a visitor will not be left wondering for long whether they are at the right pub. I mention this because I arrived at around my usual time to find Derek already in full flow.

Apparently the story was that Richard, who was MC for the night, was so shocked by the early arrival of Colin that he accidentally kicked off the session by trying to sing Farewell To Grog. I'll come to the song later but suffice to say that at this stage something went wrong and Richard barely got started before he had to give up and hand over to Derek who sang The Water Is Wide (Roud 87, Child 204).

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Stories, songs and not-so-shaggy dogs

Elder Joseph Brackett
This week's count of humans was pretty good at twelve, and our number was indeed swelled by the presence of three canines. Apart from the usual Indy, we were joined by both Gerty and Freddie who seemed to mainly successfully show Indy a good example for folk session canine etiquette.

Richard was the MC and started off the evening himself with The Day The Pub Burned Down (RG "Bob" Edwards), which is a sort of New Zealand version of The Old Dun Cow (Roud 5323).

Derek correctly challenged me to be unsuccessful at finding a version of his first song on You Tube, it being Wardley's Great White Wall (note that the linked item is written by Derek himself), the song sung at the start of the last shift at Wardley Colliery, which had to shut down when the coal seam finished in a wall of chalk. Derek got the song from Dave Douglass, who worked at Wardley and who Derek thinks may have written the song.Derek was actually singing the song to mark the closure of Hatfield Main Colliery where Douglass later worked.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Do you feel like a challenge?

The landing place at Rockstone from which the start
to the gold fields at the Essequibo River is made
We were a small but pretty enthusiastic band last week. Early conversations ranged through subjects relating to funerals and crematoria. This isn't perhaps as unusual as you would think, given that Mike works at the crematorium close to our venue and Richard also frequently finds himself at such premises in a professional capacity.

Our resident canine, Indy, was in fine voice and his timing does seem to be improving. During the singing of at least three songs I noticed him coming in perfectly on cue: variously as a wailing ghost, a howling dog and a baying wolf when the lyric required it.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

One song to the tune of another

The cast of Radio 4's I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue in 2010
First an important parish announcement: there will be no Dragon Folk Club Session this week (7 August 2015). The next session will be on Friday 14 August. There is nothing sinister behind this. The New Inn where we meet has a "big do" on 7th. They offered us space on Saturday evening but after some consideration we decided just to have a week off. Sorry if you are visiting Bristol this week and were hoping to come along. If you are resident in the area or staying a few nights you may like to consider going along to the Chipping Sodbury Folk Night on Thursday 6 at the Beaufort Hunt, Chipping Sodbury. CSFN meets on the first Thursday of every month and kicks off at 8pm. It is usually quite popular so an early arrival is advised in order to be sure of a seat.

Now for the report on last week's session. Quite frequently we have a themed night but apart from ad hoc themes that emerge informally, the only official themes we have are usually calendar based (Christmas, Burns' Night, St George, Andrew, David or Patrick, and so on). Last week's session however was an exception, being "One Song To The Tune Of Another". It's an idea borrowed from Radio 4's programme, I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue. Understandably, not everyone present was able to follow the theme but nevertheless it was pretty successful.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

The beggar man

James V of Scotland
Before I start the report on last week's session, please remember that this week's (31 July 2015) will have a theme of "One Song To The Tune Of Another" in the spirit of Radio 4's I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue. So if you can sing just that you will be very welcome; in fact you will be very welcome even if you can't - our themes are almost always optional.

Last week, Richard was MC and started off with Yr Wyf Little Collier, a song which mixed Welsh with English. later on in the evening Richard went all Welsh with Lleucu Llwyd, a song based on a poem by Llywelyn Goch ap Meurig Hen (1350 - 1380) written about his dead mistress, whose name translates as Lucy Grey.

Derek took up a theme by singing two versions of The Beggar Man (Roud 118, Child 279), one of which was something like this and the other wasn't. He told us that there were stories that the song was either written by King James V of Scotland or that he was the beggar man of the story. Apparently there were a number of ballads describing his romantic conquests while roaming the countryside in disguise so the story may not be false. Possibly without knowing it, Lesley managed a tenuous link here as well, singing Maid of Amsterdam (better known as A-Roving). The link is via a poem "So, we'll go no more a roving" by Lord Byron. The poem seems to have been suggested in part by the refrain of a Scottish song known as "The Jolly Beggar", which is one of the same group of songs as Derek's.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

No pattern that I can see

Hilaire Belloc
It was another good showing this week although I must admit that I was one of several who left after the interval. I am grateful to someone, Richard I believe, for noting down the songs and tunes from the second half; so, many of them can be found on the "a selection" link at the bottom of this report.

With Colin in charge, Derek started off the evening by announcing the death of Brian Colley and proceeded to sing one from his repertoire: The Old Pubs (Johnny Handle). Sorry if I misheard but I believe Mike said that Brian had picked up one of his (Mike's) songs when he visited a folk club in the North East. On Mike's next visit to the club the organiser begged him to sing the song again because they had heard it too many times sung badly in the intervening months. The song, which Mike sang, was Following The Southern Star.

Richard pointed out that we rarely see John Shaw at the club, so he would sing one of his songs. No, he wasn't going to sing The Christmas Tree in the middle of the year but Hilaire Belloc's The Winged Horse. Lesley followed up with The Saucy Sailor (Roud 531, Laws K38).

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Gala, Bastille and Concertina

The Cotia (Nova Scotia Mine) banner
depicting Jack Elliott and Jock Purdon
Before I get down to the report for last week there are couple of important parish announcements. First, the pub is having a major event of some sort on Friday 7 August, so there will be no Dragon Folk Club session that night. The pub has however offered us the bar on Saturday 8 August if we want it. please let us know if you would be interested in attending a session at The New Inn, Westerleigh on that evening. If there are enough people we will take the pub up on its offer; if however it doesn't look worthwhile we will not.

The other parish announcement is that the session on 31 July will have a special theme, and one we have been discussing since at least April. The theme, possibly inspired by a round on Radio 4's comedy quiz programme I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue, is One Song To The Tune Of Another. So if you can sing The Lincolnshire Poacher to the tune of Auld Lang Syne, or Pack Up Your Troubles to the tune of My Daddy Wouldn't Buy Me A Bow-wow, then the thirty first is your chance to shine.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Coincidence or skill?

A broadside from the Bodleian Libraries
(if the picture doesn't appear, try clicking to see
the link but please come back to read the rest)
A reasonably good turn out again with some faces we hadn't seen for a while and some "visitors", more of whom later. It was good to see Lesley after a long break; not quite back to normality yet but obviously on the mend.

Mike, being ill, was largely absent except for turning up to take Maggie home at the interval, so Colin was MC for the evening as had become his habit of late.

The evening was started off by Derek singing The German Musicianer (Roud 17774). One of the visitors, being rather well-oiled, went over to Derek when he had finished singing to give him a great big hug. Derek seemed surprised if a little perturbed by this show of affection. At least he can't say the audience wasn't appreciative. It (the song, not the hug) led to Lesley giving us her rendition of The Clockwinder (Roud 241) which is not only similar in ethnicity but also in it's double entendre bawdiness.

At this point the visitors left. The well oiled one proclaimed his undying love for the music and liberally spread hugs around the people present before realising that he didn't have to leave after all, and staying on for the next couple of songs.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Onward and Upward

Vincent Black Lightning
There was a pleasing increase of bums on seats this week – just as well since we had the additional expense of sending the regular scribe away on another holiday, and remunerating his Deputy Scribe. In all there were 20 attendees, with 13 (12a if you are superstitious) performers. The word performers rather than singers is specifically chosen, because we had a welcome visit by Kath and her Koncertina, who gave us such tunes as Planxty Irwin (Turlough O'Carolan) and Salmon Tails Up The Watter (James Allan - yes, you non-Geordies, the second "t" IS compulsory).

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Waterloo Sunset

It was good to see Richard who hasn't been to the club for some time, no doubt looking after Lesley, who has been recovering from injury. Our beloved leader, Maggie, also made an appearance. More surprisingly, at least to Mike, Gary and Helen were both there without a medical excuse, or as he put it, Helen was there "voluntarily" - something which is definitely to be encouraged.

Colin was MC and he asked Derek to start us off.

Derek sang this gloriously geographically inaccurate version of Higher Germany (Roud 904) rather than the more usual version.

Battle of Waterloo by William Sadler

Tuesday, 16 June 2015


Walking sticks
It was an evening for bringing along friends, which is definitely to be encouraged.

Steve brought along Jane, who told us some of her fine stories. Simon's friend Chris came along for the first time in years and even made his singing debut. And Henry, who himself hadn't been to the club for a year or two, brought his "entourage" of young ladies. Yes, this sort of behaviour is absolutely to be encouraged.

Colin took his now customary position as MC and while Mike was present at the start, he didn't stay long enough to sing. After a short debate about the order in which people arrived, Colin asked Steve to start off the proceedings. His first song was Just As The Tide Was A-Flowing (Roud 1105). This is a May song ("One morning in the month of May"), which he hoped to excuse by saying he hadn't visited us in the previous month. Simon had no such excuse when he later sang The Galway Shawl ("...one pleasant evening in the month of May").

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

June, evacuation, invasion and remembering Jean Ritchie

British troops evacuating Dunkirk's beaches
It was good to have two young and apparently enthusiastic visitors even though they didn't perform. Roger told us later they were army cadets. Colin took up his now customary role as MC and asked Derek to start us off.

Derek made his theme June, this being the first DFC session of the month. His first was The Three O'Donnells ("As I roved out one morning, was in the month of June"). Mike followed up with Thousands or More (Roud 1220).

Simon, having noticed that Jean Ritchie died earlier in the week, sang his version of her The L&N Don't Stop Here Anymore, based on the singing of Michelle Shocked.

Colin noted that it was the 75th anniversary of the end of Operation Dynamo, which saw a flotilla of "little ships" evacuate British and French soldiers from Dunkirk. To mark the occasion he put the poem, The Little Boats Of England to music.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Loud and proud

1961, Dancing Bonny Green Garters in Canterbury, Kent:
Woodside Morris on one of its regular Whitsun tours
After a very poor showing the previous week, last week's session was better attended though there is still plenty of room for improvement. What's more, due a very long running wake going on in our usual bar we were consigned to the main bar and it seemed sensible to most of us to sing loud and proud. The regulars didn't appear to mind and I even heard them joining in once or twice.

Colin took up the role of MC, sitting rather mister speaker-like at the pool table and taking no nonsense, though applause was permitted. Mike kicked off the evening with Sixteen Tons (Merle Travis).

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Life's a long song

Lady Astor, probably unfairly maligned
in the song, D-Day Dodgers
Despite the title of this report the session last week had nothing to do with Jethro Tull as far as I know nor was there a theme really but we were so thin on the ground that the suggestion was that we should sing our longer songs so that it didn't come round too often. Whether or not we succeeded you can judge for yourself.

Colin was MC for the evening and Derek kicked of proceedings with The Pride Of Springfield Road. Mike's first song was one he'd held back from the VE Day 70 session, though Simon had sung it on that occasion. Now was the right time though being the nearest session to the anniversary of the Normandy landings for D-Day Dodgers (Roud 10499, Lance-Sergeant Harry Pynn).

Monday, 18 May 2015

A May Mix

William Shakespeare
No particular theme emerged this week though there was a sprinkling of May songs. Derek challenged us to decide whether his theme was May or incest since some of his songs fitted both possibilities. Numbers were bolstered by Jan, her husband and a couple of people who though obviously not there for the music at least were polite enough to applaud. Since we are keeping count of these things, for the record it was Roger who was the final straw that sent them on their way - the honours are certainly being spread around recently.

As MC for the evening, Colin asked Derek to start off the session, which he did with Lady Isabel (Child 261). Simon unintentionally found a tenuous link with Isobel Makes Love Upon National Monuments (Jake Thackray).

Phil's voice wasn't too good so he eased himself in with a spoken version of Carson Robison's Texas Dan. One of Jan's songs was something we are more accustomed to hearing from Derek: that is The Four Marys (Roud 79, Child 173).

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

VE Day 2015

Thumper and Vera - photo by Simon Meeds
This week's session was on the seventieth anniversary of VE Day which marked the end of the Second World War in Europe, and the day after the hundredth anniversary of the sinking of the Lusitania which contributed to the eventual participation of the USA in the First World War. This meant that there was plenty of excuse for the singing of songs on a military theme.

We were joined for the first time in a while by occasional visitor, Ed, who brought along four friends, two of whom were Eleanor and Paul who together with Ed made a group, Ed Hanfrey et al.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

May Day 2015

Our latest session was actually on May Day, so songs of May, summer and red flags were well in evidence. Colin was MC for the evening and asked Mike to start off, which he did with Hal An Tow (Roud 1520); a song from the Helston Flora Day tradition.

Derek continued with Giles Collins (Roud 147, Child 85 - "Giles Collins walked out on a may morning..."). In fact most singers this week managed to follow the theme to some extent.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

England, St George and dragons

St George and the Dragon, Bryn Mawr, c1910-1915
This week was our St George's Day session (one day late), so there were songs of England, knights and dragons. We were all pleased to see Maggie back with us, albeit with her right arm in plaster. She still managed to sell the raffle tickets at the interval with some help from the customers with tearing tickets. In expectation of Mike and Maggie leaving early, Colin took up the mantle of MC for the evening. We were joined by two audience members, more of which later.

Mike mistakenly suggested that his only song to mention St George was one which he will sing next week for May Day, so he started off the session by commemorating the hundredth anniversary of the start of the Gallipoli Campaign with The Band Played Waltzing Matilda (Eric Bogle).

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

An April Miscellany

Benny Graham, Jez Lowe, Jock Purdon and
Ged Foley in 1982 at Durham City Folk Festival
The notable thing about last week's session was that we were joined by two newcomers, Sian and Rob. They claimed to have enjoyed the experience, so let's hope they return to the Dragon Folk Club very soon.

I didn't really detect any theme this week although there were some pairs of songs which somehow went together.

Colin was MC and asked Mike to start off the proceedings, which he did with The Hunting Priest (Tally Ho The Hounds or Doctor Mack). Derek was next with Queen Eleanor's Confession (Roud 74, Child 156).

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Remembering Ray... and other stories

When I arrived at The New Inn last Friday I saw a large table of people being served with food where we usually have our session. I thought for a moment we had been let down again as at our previous venue. I headed back to the car, then I realised there were familiar cars in the car park. Should I put my guitar in the car and go to investigate, or should I just go and investigate anyway? I went to investigate, guitar case in hand. Sure enough, I found a group of our regulars in the other bar with drinks. No one immediately explained, so I just got myself a pint and took a seat.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Roger - Profile

This article is one of a series on regulars at the club.

Roger first attended the club around fifteen or twenty years ago but he recently returned after a long break.

His musical career began in 1942 when he joined the cub scout movement, singing around campfires. In Wales he was a member of a boys' choir and sang rugby songs on tour.

Roger's more recent musical background is amateur musical theatre and that's where he is happiest. He played with Avon Light opera in Salad Days, Oklahoma and White Horse Inn, which his wife, Christine, produced at the Redgrave Theatre. He tours with a "concert party", entertaining at retirement homes.

Roger is practicing the harmonica, piano, electronic keyboard. He likes to attend the Sidmouth Folk Festival.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Easter 2015

Charmian Bernays, aged 8,
Toowoomba, Queensland in 1922
We were a bit thin on the ground this week. Not least because, as we heard last week, Maggie has been in the wars, and I heard that Lesley may also be suffering (unconfirmed report). Get well soon ladies and come back to us. Friday was Good Friday, so there were Easter-themed songs about though we didn't all step up to the plate in that respect.

Colin was MC and he asked Derek to start us off. Derek started as he meant to go on, taking us almost on a stations of the cross tour of Easter, his first being A Week Before Easter (Roud 154). He followed that up with Maundy Thursday in the shape of Judas (Child 23), then on to Good Friday with Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day.

Finally on this strand Easter Day, or rather the Easter Rising, was represented by The Women of Cumann na mBan, (The Soldiers of Cumann na mBan). Derek picked this as being the most difficult to spell in the log book for MC, Colin, who had headed him off at the pass earlier by singing his original choice, The Foggy Dew (Canon Charles O’Neill).

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Tunes help you breathe more easily

With your regular scribe away on the road to Gallivant, I find myself thrown off the comfortable subs' bench to report the pre-Easter meeting of the Dragon Club. [With notes like this from the regular scribe]

The unfortunate incapacity of Maggie, who broke her wrist in a dog-walking-related incident, meant that Indie (apparently not suffering any Maggie-walking-related injuries) arrived accompanied only by Mike. Mike surveyed the book to count the shell holes put into his repertoire during last week's Mikeless free-for-all, but had no difficulty in beginning with a couple of Keith Marsden songs – Idlers and Skivers and The Drovers.

We welcomed our old friend Joe, accompanied by his chauffeuse [Josci], on their first visit to the new site. Although he had not brought any song texts with him, he took the lead in singing Swing Low Sweet Chariot, eked out by other verses contributed by assorted (probably) ex-rugby players. This was enough to qualify him as one of 8 performers among the ten people present.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015


Aurora Borealis
Since Mike and Maggie, and particularly Mike, were off Rockin' and Rollin' this week, it is customary to take the opportunity to sing some of Mike's songs. Richard, MCing again, got the ball rolling in that sense with Trevor Crozier's Dead Dog Cider.

Steve G was very topical with Neil Young's Pocahontas which starts "Aurora borealis. The icy sky at night". Only a few nights ago this phenomenon was visible in many parts of the country though not I think as far South as Bristol. Richard seemed to think that Colin would have something appropriate to the solar eclipse that had happened this very day, but he didn't have one.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Phil - Profile

This article is one of a series on regulars at the club.

Phil first came to the folk club about ten years ago. He says he sings anything that takes his fancy but he has a strong affinity for early American rural music. He sings, and plays guitar and harmonica.

Phil's musical tastes developed by listening to skiffle bands and the AFN (American Forces Network) during his national service with the British Army of the Rhine (1954-56). While recovering from an operation about ten years ago, he encountered an excellent guitarist who encouraged him and taught him some of the basic skills required to play the guitar. Phil's hearing is now severely impaired, so he thinks it unlikely that he will improve his playing further.

Phil has a wide selection of music on CD and vinyl, such as hillbilly blues and string bands (The Carolina Tar Heels, North Carolina Ramblers, Carter Family and Memphis Jug Band)., and individuals and duos (Jimmie Rodgers, Cliff Carlisle, Kelly Harrell, Darby and Tarlton, Riley Puckett, etc.). He would like to know whether anyone else is interested in this type of music.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

St Patrick's Day (and Mothering Sunday) - 2015

Spinning and carding
With a couple of regulars missing from the throng this week we were slightly thin on the ground but in good voice to celebrate a slightly premature St Patrick's Day. I was also the nearest session to Mothering Sunday, something which didn't escape the attention of Derek, though his maternal contributions weren't necessarily as loving as one might expect.

Richard once again performed the duties of MC asn asked Mike to start us off, which he did with Red Haired Mary.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Death warmed up

I am slightly nervous about this week's blog report. The main reason is that I was quite justifiably roasted for an error I made (now corrected) in my previous report. Secondly because Derek typically took my error as a challenge and sang several versions of similar and not-so-similar songs, in an attempt to make the point about my error, or our "little domestic" as he put it. It was all in good humour of course but gives me a challenge since it was the difficulty of working out the background to what he sang last time that led to the error in the first place. I make no guarantees I have it right this week!

Richard took up the mantle of MC, and started us off himself with The Girl I Left Behind Me.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

St David's Day 2015

Celebrating St David’s Day in Barmouth
The important factor which both constitutes news and explains the whole session is that there will be no Dragon Folk Club on 27 February but we will be back on Friday 6 March at the usual venue. It's simply a matter of our room being booked for another function. We were given at least two weeks' notice and the possibility of an alternative night, which was nice. Unfortunately the alternative night didn't work for enough of the regulars, so we're having a week off.

This hiatus meant that we wouldn't be meeting any closer to St David's day, so adopted Welshman, Richard, who MCed for the evening, announced at the last moment that. All things Welsh would be the theme. Given that there had been no leek (sic) of this information beforehand the level of preparedness was fairly low, except for Richard himself, who had obviously been planning it.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Valentine's Day 2015

CWAC Valentine's Day 1944
Ignoring the fact that it was Friday 13th, we concentrated on it being the day before Valentine's Day with a theme described by Mike as "Lust and Unrequited Love". I think everyone pretty much stuck to the theme even if we strayed even further than usual from the folk tradition. Roger set out on a tour of songs from the shows, claiming he was "doing a Simon", since Simon sang Summertime a couple of weeks ago.

Colin took the mantel of MC and got Mike to kick off with Black Sloven (Last Valentine's Day), which is not about love at all but is a hunting song. Nevertheless, it somehow got us off on theme.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Rugby and Derek's connection game

The 1905 Original All-Blacks who each received
an autographed copy of On the Ball and took
the song on tour.
We were smaller in number than recently but no less keen. It was the evening of the first six nations' rugby match of the season: Wales versus England at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff. This led to one of the main themes for the evening.

Richard was once again MC and, since Mike hadn't yet thought of a song, got Colin to kick off the evening, which he did with The Robert Whitworth (Neil and Roz Kimber), telling the story of an epic rescue performed by the Whitby lifeboat of that name on 19 January 1881.

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Advice and disasters

The trawler Ross Cleveland
Richard was once again MC for the evening and he kicked off the session with Tarry Wool.

Things were back to normal this week after Burns' Night last week, although Derek's mentioned that his first song, McPherson's Farewell, was claimed by Burns but that he didn't write it. Unfortunately my research has only uncovered people claiming that Burns did write it; so although I trust Derek in these things I haven't been able to unearth the history he is getting at.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Burns' Night 2015

Robert Burns (1759-96)
A fine turn-out for our pre-Burns' Night session with 19 humans and three dogs including Gertie, who could possibly be described as a "Wee, sleekit, cow'rin, tim'rous beastie" if she wasn't listening. There were plenty of Scottish, psuedo-Scottish and debatably Scottish songs in evidence. I won't comment too much on their relationship to Burns unless it's reasonably obvious or was stated.

Richard was once again MC for the evening - it's becoming quite a habit. We were pleased to see Maggie S for the first time in a few weeks, but she and Mike still had to leave at half time.

A couple of other notable anniversaries were mentioned. Derek pointed out Ewan McColl's 100th birthday on Sunday 25 January, and Keith G mentioned the 50th anniversary of Winston Churchill's death on Saturday 24 January.

Keith G proposed as appropriate to Churchill, Leonard Cohen's First We Take Manhattan (then we take Berlin).

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Church-going, languages and Barbara Allen

Leadbelly (right), from whose singing our
final song of this session (Take a Whiff on me) comes.
The trumpeter is Bunk Johnson
A better turn-out this week and a couple of people trying our new venue for the first time. This is good to see and I hope a lot more of our occasional visitors will make appearances in the next few weeks; maybe even becoming more regular once they see that things are better at The New Inn, Westerleigh.

With Indy howling as well as ever and Maggie at home requiring Mike's care and attention, Richard once more took up the role of MC for the evening. Derek kicked off with The Volunteer Organist (Roud 5378, William B Gray and G L Spaulding). Richard picked up the theme of going to church by performing, as a reading, The Wensleydale Lad (Roud 21176). Church bells then became a minor theme with Steve G singing Bob Dylan's Ring Them Bells and Colin Egloshayle Ringers (Roud 1163).

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Twelfth Night, the Deep South and Fred Jordan's boots

Fred Jordan's boots
We weren't quite as much of a throng as the previous week but almost everyone was singing or otherwise performing. We were joined in the bar by two people not directly involved in the session. There's nothing at all wrong with that, and I saw them responding to some of the performances, which has to be a good thing.

This was the nearest Dragon session to twelfth night, so there were some appropriate songs for that, and continuing the theme of New Year. We also had a mini-theme of Fred Jordan.

Maggie being unwell, Mike was to leave at half time again, so Richard did the duties of MC.

Derek kicked off proceedings with Lavender's blue (Roud 3483) which is connected with the celebration of Twelfth Night and the choosing of the king and queen during the festival. Robert Herrick's poem Twelfe-Night, or King and Queene (published 1648) describes the election of king and queen by bean and pea in a plum cake, and the homage done to them by the draining of wassail bowls of "lamb's-wool", a drink of sugar, nutmeg, ginger and ale. Note that Derek uses "fiddle faddle" rather than "dilly dilly" in the song.