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, 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.

Before taking up the cause of my blog error, Derek pointed out that Roy Palmer died recently and proceeded to sing Roy's version of The Deserter (Roud 493). Just to cover myself, the recording I've linked is the Fairport Convention version, which isn't Roy's version, in fact it illustrates why Derek rarely sings it at the Dragon Folk Club; that is because, like Fairport, Mike sings the Ratcliffe Highway version of the song. That version is not to be confused with another song (Roud 598) which is also called Ratcliffe Highway. Incidentally, Ratcliffe Highway is in East London.

Now let's get Derek's other three songs out of the way, not least because they are relevant to the morbid theme which emerged for the evening. Derek's second song was Jeannie Robertson's version of Owen Barry which itself is a version of The Butcher's Boy (Roud 263). I have to be careful here too, since there is apparently another The Butcher's Boy (Roud 409).

Next Derek announced he would sing Emily Sparkes' version of The Butcher Boy. I didn't note down all of the words he sang but it seems my memory of what he sang matches the sixth verse of her version of Died For Love (Roud 60, Laws P25). I couldn't find a recording of exactly that version but this Died For Love by Shirley Collins pretty much shares the first two verses with Sparkes' song (I may be skating on thin ice again here).

Derek's final offering of the night, and his point was to highlight the difference in the stories behind each of these songs, was Lucy Stewart's version of Green Banks of the Yarrow (Roud 172, Child 24). Again I haven't been able to find Stewart singing the song, so I hope this version suffices.

Sorry if it seems that the session was a one-man show from Derek. That was certainly not the case; I just wanted to get over this error I made, and I hope I haven't made a whole slew more of them in doing so. As I already mentioned, these songs led us onto a theme of death, which several of us took up through the evening.

Possibly the most interesting discovery I've made recently relates to Mike's singing of "Look At The Coffin" or "Ain't It Grand". I may be wrong but I suspect that Mike got this song from the singing of someone doing so in the style of The Clancy Brothers (something like this). A bit of research though reveals that the song was written by variety artist, Leslie Sarony, and here he is singing it. After all this digging (do I intend the pun?), I couldn't resist linking to this totally different version from a YouTube contributor.

Also on the subject of death, Roger sang Wrap Me Up In My Tarpaulin Jacket (words attributed to G J Whyte-Melville; tune Charles Coote). Terry contributed Keith Marsden's The Funeral Song. Phil's song on the theme was Little Black Train (AP Carter).

We were very pleased to see Colin's daughter, Imogen, who used to be her father's regular accomplice at the DFC before she left school. She revisited one of the songs she used to sing to us: Somewhere Along The Road (Rick Kemp).

Colin finished off the session with Down At The Suicide Arms, which I have seen apparently attributed to Charles Menteith.

Next week is our closest session to St Patrick's Day, so the theme will be everything Irish.

Finally, Derek asked us to broadcast an appeal. He teaches deaf children and one of his pupils, apparently the one with the best residual hearing, has decided to take up the guitar. A guitar has been found for him but he will probably never be able to tune it by ear. Has anyone got a spare electronic guitar tuner which they could donate?

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

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


  1. Oh dear, I hardly dare to mention it BUT the song Bob Davenport is singing is Child 214 The Dowy Dens of Yarrow, whilst I was singing Child 24 Bonnie Annie/Banks of Green Willow - which also exists in an orchestral version by George Butterworth.

    Thanks for the guitar tuner plug.

    1. Thank you Derek. Of course you should dare to mention it. My excuse is that the video was incorrectly labelled, and since it is a song you sing it obviously seemed familiar. Anyway, I believe I've found the right song now. It also gave me a chance to find and correct rather a lot of typos, which is a good thing. No problem with the appeal - I have also posted it on Facebook and so far 197 people have seen it there. Have a good week and see you on Friday.