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.

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).

Steve C's first offering was a seasonal song: The Bold Poachers (Roud 1686) "Concerning of three young men, One night in January".

Another theme erupted when Roger, in recognition of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, sang the first verse of La Marseillaise (Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle). Simon continued in French with Chevaliers de la Table Ronde and Derek followed suit with As-tu Connu le Père Lancelot. Mike sang Paris Here I Come in translation and, extending the other language theme, included one verse of the original Welsh in Hob Y Deri Dando; Richard thought Mike's Welsh must be improving because he could even understand some of it.

Keith H treated us to what I guess may be premiers of two new tunes: Over the Edge and Time is Still a Flying. Keith G meanwhile asked for help in finishing his nascent parody of a Shirley Bassey song, about a prostate examination, entitled Cold Finger, and went on to offer In My Room (Brian Wilson and Gary Usher), and The Dying Soldier (Ger Costelloe).

One of Chris's songs was Barbara Allen (Child 84, Roud 54), being the version which starts with "In Scarlet town, where I was born" rather than the usual "Twas in the merry month of May" or some other temporal reference. I was under the impression that this was an American version but I turned up a possible alternative explanation. There is a version (collected by Ewan MacColl from the Dorset gypsy singer, Queen Caroline Hughes in 1964), which Martin Carthy apparently sings, starting "In Reading town, where I was born". The theory goes that "Scarlet town" could be a joke on "Reading town". For the benefit of anyone who doesn't know, Reading, Berkshire, England" is pronounced "Redding".

Jo duetted with Steve G on two songs but also did one song on her own, which was Bonnie House of Airlie (Child 199). Her version was perhaps a little gentler than the one we have heard from Derek.

Phil's final song was Leaving Home (Roud 254); he was adamant not "Frankie and Johnny", which was the title that went in the book.

The evening was rounded off by Colin with Take a Whiff on Me (Roud 10062) which got most people singing along. As Richard pointed out, while we like the song, the management doesn't necessarily support the sentiment.

Next week is our nearest session to Burns' Night so come along with your Scottish songs and tunes or failing that with anything that takes your fancy. Also, bring your friends!

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

(Number of people present - 13, of which 13 performed)

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