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, 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).

I also noticed at this stage one of our usual tables was occupied by a group of people who varied from attentive to noisy and from five in number to eight. It has become customary to note who was singing when such a group left the bar, not because we want to drive them away (though on this occasion they were tending to be on the loud side), nor to ridicule the person who was singing, but just because it's a bit of fun. On this occasion Phil had the honour of singing as they left.

Lesley continued with Farther Along (sic) (JR Baxter and WB Stevens). As the volume of our "guests" was increasing, Mike decided to turn things up a notch too with Mobile Bay (Roud 4696) - his version starts "From Bristol town we sailed away".

It was good to see Joe and Josci again. Joe had decided to sing with the aid of a mobile phone for both words and musical prompting. That might have been OK except that Josci wasn't able to get both words and music on the phone at the same time, so Richard came to the rescue by lending his. This left Josci holding one phone to Joe's ear, and the other up for him to read the words, while Colin provided admirable guitar accompaniment. The song in question was Eric Clapton's poignant Tears In Heaven, written in memory of his four year old son, Conor, who died after falling from a 53rd floor window in New York city. The mode of performance may have been unconventional but I believe it was generally appreciated.

Roger's first song of the evening was September Song (Kurt Weill, Maxwell Anderson) after which Richard seemed to offer him a gig. Apparently Richard was to officiate at a funeral, and the family of the deceased had requested someone to sing Frank Sinatra songs. I don't think Roger accepted the booking.

Finally Richard got round to singing Farewell To Grog which was written by Caspar Schenk, a member of the US Navy, and was first sung on 31 August 1862 in the wardroom of USS Portsmouth. This was the day before the grog ration was stopped in the US Navy. The drinking of grog carried on in Royal Navy until 1970. The song is clearly based on the traditional Come Landlord Fill The Flowing Bowl (also known as Three Jolly Coachmen - Roud 1234) which Derek sang later in the evening after exclaiming "Oh, in theory I can do this". Of course he did a fine job!

It was good to see a first time visitor to the club, and even better to see he enjoyed the evening. It was Mike who is known to some of us as a member of the Pressgang Rejects shanty group, who appear at the Chipping Sodbury Folk Night. He was certainly keen to return, we hope with words and voice, and maybe with friends! I will have to get a second initial for Mike when he returns to differentiate him from Mike S; Mike did tell me his full name but I'm ashamed to say I didn't remember it or note it down; sorry Mike.

Derek remembered a comment Simon had made and thought he was doing a favour by singing The Button Push Machine. You see, a few weeks ago we had a session with the theme "One Song To The Tune Of Another". At that session Colin sang The House Of The Rising Sun to the tune of The Lincolnshire Poacher. Immediately, Simon said it would be great if he could sing The Lincolnshire Poacher to the tune of The House Of The Rising Sun, because he doesn't like the tune of the former song, it having been the ident of BBC Radio Lincolnshire which he listened to a lot as a teenager. Derek, making it clear that he doesn't like the the tune of The House Of The Rising Sun, sang The Button Push Machine, which is based on The Lincolnshire Poacher, to it. This slightly backfired in two ways. Firstly, Derek wasn't able to keep to the tune and gave up half way through, and secondly Simon had prepared to sing The Lincolnshire Poacher to that same tune, which he indeed still did on the basis that Derek hadn't finished his song.

As a precursor to a trip to Edinburgh which will involve a visit to a whisky museum for Richard's benefit, for Lesley does not drink Whisky, she sang I Happen To Like Whiskey Sir (Tom Paxton).

Terry produced a mandolin which I assume is a fairly new instrument for him since I haven't seen him with it before, and proceeded to play an Iberian-titled medley of Spanish Harlem (Jerry Leiber, Phil Spector) and Spanish Eyes (Bert Kaempfert).

Phil's last contribution of the evening was Hobo Bill's Last Ride (Elsie McWilliams, Jimmie Rodgers) which included accompaniment by Roger on "train whistle". After another round, Richard finished off the evening with Calomel, which he sang to the tune of O Tannenbaum rather than the one used in the linked recording. I'm closing this blog report now, so if you want to know what Calomel is, I suggest you try the Wikipedia entry for it.

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

(Number of people present - 14 [+ 8], of which 11 performed)

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