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.

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.

Colin took up the mantel of MC and asked Rose to kick off the evening. I initially though she was singing about a rose but it turned out to be Billy Edd Wheeler's The Coming Of The Roads.

From here on in I will concentrate on songs sung to other tunes trying to briefly describe each. Sorry to those who did not manage to follow the theme but most of your songs are linked below on the "a selection" link. Sorry also if I mis-identified any of the tunes and thanks to Richard for helping me out with some of them.

Mike was the first on theme with Liverpool Judies (Roud 928), to "an Irish tune" which Mike knows as Derry Down, possibly The Coal Owner And The Pitman's Wife.

You will notice that quite a few hymn tunes were used, and the first of these was Richard, singing Erin Go Bragh to the tune Joanna (also known as St Denio and most known for being the tune to the hymn Immortal, Invisible). Richard managed to slip this one in, since had Derek been present he would no doubt have beaten him to it to the tune of Blow The Man Down.

Lesley wasn't sure she could hear herself sing (the ambient noise level was a bit higher than usual) so she played safe on the first round with Rhondda Valley Garden by Owen Money and Lloyd Davies, obviously to the tune of

Simon attempted Mark Knopfler's Brothers In Arms to another hymn tune, Monks Gate (Ralph Vaughan Williams). Colin used yet another hymn tune, this time William Henry Monk's Eventide (usually used for the hymn Abide With Me) as the basis of his rendition of Lovely Joan (Roud 592).

Chris came close to the theme, singing To A Wild Rose (Edward MacDowell): Richard declared that he had often heard the tune but Chris is the only person he knows to sing the words.

Mike's second song of the evening was Byker Hill (Roud 3488), sung to the tune of Jerusalem (William Blake, Sir Hubert Parry, Sir Edward Elgar). Richard followed this with the Kipper Family's Bald General Coote to the tune of The Boar's Head Carol (Roud 22229).

Getting well away from the hymn tune direction Lesley, with her confidence returning, got us singing along with Joni Mitchell's Both Sides Now to the tune of William Brown (Arthur Hagg) - or at least that's what I think the tune was.

Simon would like to be able to sing Lady Franklin's Lament (Roud 487, Laws K9) but just can't seem to remember the tune. On this occasion though he was able to sing it to the tune of The Handweaver And The Factory Maid (Roud 17771).

Colin said his next contribution, House Of The Rising Sun, lost all of it's effect sung, as he did it, to the tune of The Lincolnshire Poacher (Roud 299). I won't say a word, but coming as I do from Lincolnshire and disliking this particular locally themed song, Colin has given me an idea to try to reverse his exercise - I wonder whether it will work?

Richard invoked the spirit of his adopted country to sing Sospan Fach to the tune of RĂ³isin The Bow while Lesley pulled out a version of Stuart Marson's Too Close To The Wind to the tune of The Vicar Of Bray.

Simon went all obscure at this point. He often sings the song Boys of Bedlam often  called Tom of Bedlam to a tune by Nic Jones and Dave Moran. While researching for a report on this blog a few weeks ago I found that the words of the song appear to be from a poem called Mad Maudlin's Search, which is a sequel to another poem called Tom O' Bedlam, so based on this research, Simon claimed to have sung Tom O' Bedlam to the tune of Tom of Bedlam, and to have still stuck to the theme - a likely story!

We were soon back to Richard and another hymn tune for Horkstow Grange (Roud 1760) to the tune Pantyfedwen (Morris Eddie Evans - Linked article translated from Welsh using Google Translate because I couldn't find any usable articles in English about him). Lesley kept up the Welsh theme by singing to the tune Calon Lan (John Hughes). I hope I've got this right, that this is the tune Lesley usually uses to sing The Miner's Lifeguard, and indeed it is the original tune... but it's the original tune for the original, British version of the words. Lesley, on the other hand, always sings the American version of the song to it. Conversely, I understand that Mike sings the British words to the American Tune!! We can be a confusing lot sometimes.

Colin's final tune song bending contribution was Bernard Wrigley's The Manchester Molecatcher to the tune of A Blacksmith Courted Me (Roud 816).

Finally, the evening was rounded off by Richard with the words of The Bonnie Ship The Diamond (Roud 2172) to the tune Winchester Old (George Kirbye - better known as the tune of While Shepherds Watched).

I think we did pretty well to keep it going all evening, with a few more normal pairings of lyric and tune sprinkled among the strangeness. After this marathon report I think I will put my feet up for a few days... yes, and remember, there is no Dragon Folk Club this week... we're back to normal on 14 August 2015. See you there!

Here's a selection of songs sung during this session.

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


  1. The words were the shanty Liverpool Judies and tune is known to me as Derry down. mike

  2. Thank Mike, I hope I've improved it a bit.