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, 20 April 2016

A cornucopia of song

Frederic Weatherly, the Englishman
who wrote Maggie's nemesis song, Danny Boy
Before I get started on this week's report I must remind you that due to a private party in our usual venue, there will be no Dragon folk club session this Friday (22 April). We will be back with a belated St Geoge's Day theme next week (29 April), when you may also wish to mark Wthe 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare's death.

Last week's Dragon session was surprisingly well attended given the absence of a couple of regular faces. It's always good to see Tom and Terry H in our midst, and Paul was a surprise visitor. Apparently he was all geared up to go to another club on the night but realised at the last minute it wasn't on, so he made the long journey from home to see us, at least for the first half.

Note that this is the semi-regular Paul and not Paul of Paul and Jenny last week. If they both turn up together I'm going to have to ask for surnames. Oh, the lot of the blog writer is a stressful one. ;-)

Colin was MC and, as is usual these days, Derek started us off. His first song was The Lowlands Low (Patrick Joseph McCall).

Mike asked us to imagine him as a young girl of sixteen, something we found very hard but we understood when he sang The Female Drummer (Roud 226). Tom calmed us with Dave Plaskett's I Couldn't Take My Eyes Off Her.

Terry H (note that the last video above was a Terry H production) took us to lonely places with Graeme MilesWhere Ravens Feed.

Colin's first of the evening was The Old Turf Fire (Roud 8215), which was bizarrely an anagram of the Roud number when Simon sang next with The Candlelight Fisherman (Roud 1852). And if you think that was planned you obviously overestimate our skill.

Phil tried to cheer us up with Keep On The Sunny Side (Ada Blenkhorn, J Howard Entwisle) before Steve G carried us off to Ireland with Donegal Breeze (Kevin Doherty).

Paul sang us two of his songs before departing. Notes Strings And Other Stuff and Hedges, the latter of which tells of his pleasant if lengthier commute since he has lived in rural North Somerset. Both Chris and Roger also evoked the countryide, first with the Newfoundland song, She's Like The Swallow and then with Rose Of England (Ivor Novello).

Derek was surprised that charming young lady, Chris should approach him on her arrival and apparently ask him to sing a song of bestiality. Of course he complied, giving us his version of The Great Silkie (Roud 197, Child 113). The reason for the request became clear later, when Chris sang a more genteel version of the same song which she had been learning.

This reminds me in a round-about way of an idea I had. Yesterday two people independently drew my attention to an article on the BBC web site entitled "10 of the most disturbing folk songs in history". The list seems reasonable enough but I just ended up thinking... I'm sure we can do better. How about that for a future session theme? "The Most Disturbing Folk Songs". I'm sure Derek at least could take us much further into the depths than the BBC!

In Maggie's absence I think Terry H just about got away with Danny Boy (Frederic Weatherly), with accompaniment from Tom.

Mike commented about Colin's song, Peg And Awl, that it was the only song he knew of in folk music where those particular items were used in a literal rather than sexual sense.

Terry H wanted it recorded and known that in the traditional half-time raffle it was the first time he had ever won the Curly Wurlies! It wasn't recorded though whether he had ever won the wine or any other miscellaneous prizes.

A possible candidate for the "most disturbing songs" theme was Derek's My Son David (Roud 200, Child 13).

I was quite pleased to find a video for the most unusual song of the evening, which came from Colin, and was Ghost Chickens In The Sky (Sean Morey).

When I started researching Derek's final song of the evening, Johnny Come Down The Backstay, which I had heard him sing before, I initially failed to find it, thinking maybe he had himself (surely not) combined Johnny Come Down To Hilo, which accounts for most of the words, with John Dameray, which would account for the refrain. A bit of persistence though is sometimes repaid, and I eventually found a note accompanying the words for Johnny Come Down To Hilo which said "[Stan] Hugill claimed to have known an 'old sailor' who sang it as 'Johnny, Come Down the Backstay.'"

As a finale for the evening Chris got another request in; this time it was for Tom to sing Autumn Leaves (Joseph Kosma, Johnny Mercer).

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

(Number of people present - 11, of whom 11 performed)

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