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, 12 October 2016

When is a Croppy Boy not a Croppy Boy?

Charlotte Schreiber's painting
The Croppy Boy (The Confession of an Irish Patriot)
Colin was back in action as MC at last week's session. There was no theme but several people performed their leftovers from harvest.

Derek started off the session with The Croppy Boy (Carroll Malone) which was straightforward enough it seemed, except Mike, returning from a walk with his dog Indy challenged Derek about the version. Derek said it was what came of sitting in an Irish club for a long time, to which Mike said in Irish clubs around Bristol they sing a version which they know as McCafferty. Derek looked a little put out and I assumed he was thinking that Mike meant McCaffery, a song which Derek also sings. Anyway that was that until, on the second round Derek challenged Colin and me with the open question of what we would call his next song. With some deft Googling I had the answer, and shared it with Colin for the club's official record... and the song was... The Croppy Boy (Roud 1030, Laws J14).

This is all explained in an entry at MainlyNorfolk about the Roud 1030 song; in fact it is explained in a quote from the Musical Traditions anthology of songs from Sussex county pubs, Just Another Saturday Night. "There are two songs called The Croppy Boy, both of which derive from [the Irish 1798 rebellion]. The more literary of the two was written by one Carroll Malone, and concerns a Croppy who seeks confession from a priest, only to find that the ‘priest’ is a yeoman officer in disguise. The one we are concerned with, however, is a street ballad which predates it and is much less literary in style. It seems to connect with the Child ballad The Maid Freed from the Gallows, and with the Ulster song The Streets of Derry. All three are progressive execution songs with rejection by the family as a significant motif. However, in the case of The Croppy Boy, no sweetheart appears to save him … though the Porters' third verse might hint at his sister taking this role. This motif is also present in the British Army song McCaffery—the tune of which is one of the two usually associated, as here, with The Croppy Boy."

To add to the intrigue, as Derek finished singing Roud 1030, Mike referred back to something Derek said in September. He challenged me to find out which song had allegedly led to the singer being executed. In fact, if I didn't find the answer Derek threatened to sing the song. Derek confirmed that the song is The Death Of Parker (Roud 1032) - yes, by coincidence it was only two Roud numbers on from the song Derek had just sung. The song tells of the Nore Mutiny in which Richard Parker became involved and was eventually hanged for treason. The alleged death caused by singing the song came when it was sung on board ship which, so we are told, was taken by the Captain as an incitement to mutiny. Derek spared us the song on this occasion (I only say that because he didn't exactly give it a glowing review when he mentioned it before) but I suspect we may be treated to it on a future occasion (or you can listen to it now at the above link).

Mike sang a slightly (only slightly, I think) different version of The Roving Kind from the one usually sung by Lesley before we were taken across the pond first by John with Will The Circle Be Unbroken (Ada R Habershon and Charles H Gabriel, reworked by AP Carter) and then by Phil with Midnight Special (Roud 6364).

Geoff gave us Harry Chapin's Cat's In The Cradle and Colin Carson Robison's Poor Man's Heaven.

Simon brought us back closer to home with Laird Of The Dainty Dounby (Roud 864).

Richard harked back to Michaelmas (29 September) with Blackberry Grove (Roud 9176) and Lesley sang what she called The Silver Wheat which we often identify as Watching The Wheat (Bugeilio'r gwenith gwyn).

A later song of particular interest was sung by Richard: The Holderness Farmer, written by Andrew Wells, a farmer of that locality, which tells of the erosion suffered by his coastal farm and the understanding that much of the lost earth ends up in the Netherlands, hence the plaintive cry of the chorus: "Half my farm's in Holland now".

Simon closed the session with Drill Ye Tarriers Drill (Roud 4401).

We'd love to see you at this week's session on Friday (14 October 2016), which will again have no theme, so anything acoustic will be perfect.

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

(Number of people present - 9, of whom 9 performed)

No comments:

Post a Comment