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, 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.

Nevertheless, Mike kicked off with Max Boyce's Duw It's Hard. This is a song often sung by Lesley but obviously Richard hadn't even informed his Welsh wife of his plans, so she hadn't prepared and seemed very happy that Mike could step into the breach.

Lesley wasn't entirely without Welsh songs though, making her first a song which I assume is called "Come To Llandudno" but I can't find a trace of it anywhere I'm afraid.

Derek started off with a song, partly in Welsh, which I think was a version of Lord Randall (Roud 10, Child 12), but not one I can find anywhere. At this stage I really wasn't doing too well at finding things on YouTube, nor anywhere else, this week. I'll take the liberty of mentioning two of Derek's other songs. He eschewed the Welsh theme, first to sing Trimdon Grange Explosion (Roud 3189, Tommy Armstrong) about the disaster at that pit on 16 February 1882. Derek continued to plough his own furrow by extending his running theme of singing songs sung by Fred Jordan. This week it was The Watery Grave. Derek identified this as a version of "Owen Barry" but seemed uncertain why Fred only sang three verses which didn't really hang together as a story.

MainlyNorfolk finds a possible answer to Derek's puzzle in the cover notes written by Mike Yates on the Fred Jordan album, Songs of a Shropshire Farm Worker. "During the first half of the nineteenth century there was a strong vogue, among stage comedians, for the burlesque of romantic folk ballads. Lord Lovel and William and Dinah (‘Villikins’) were two such. Also, a mildly comic version of The Banks of Sweet Willow was popularised in the 1850's by the entertainer Sam Cowell. As The Watery Grave, the burlesque has survived better than its handsome original which scholars identify as Child No. 24." (See the comments below this report for Derek's response to this suggestion)

Roger returned us to the Welsh theme with a poem or recitation he had written which he entitled A Welsh Miscellaney.

Richard of course was replete with Welsh connections in his songs, most notably singing two entirely in Welsh: Calon Lân (Daniel James, John Hughes) and Sosban Fach.

The nearest Colin got to Wales was Cornwall with his closing song: Steve Knightley's Cousin Jack.

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

(Number of people present - 11, of which 10 performed)


  1. "Derek identified this as a version of The Banks of Green Willow (Roud 172, Child 24)"
    Oh no I didn't - and goodnss knows what the Some Scholars who do have been drinking. Banks of Green Willow/Bonnie Annie is about a woman thrown off a ship because she is pregnant and the sailors are superstitious. She is found and buried by her grieving lover. I identified the song I sang as a version of Owen Barry - girl gets pushed into river by aggrieved lover because she won't marry him. Owen Barry is cognate with the American song Banks of the Ohio, which is perhaps better known among British folkies as Banks of the ODB, as sung by Frank McPeake Snr.
    I suspect you have now condemned the Dragon to having to listen to my versions of both songs on the same night!

  2. Derek, You are quite right that you mentioned Owen Barry - I should have trusted my own notes more. I will at least partially correct the report.