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.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Just Harping On

Photo: Bart Hanlon
Yes, you read correctly at the bottom of this post, we were only five at last week's session, in fact we were really "four twice" as my grandmother used to say about a family that lost a child and gained a new one soon after. We really need to see some new faces, and for some of you old hands to come and join us. Yes, I know we have a reasonable number of regulars but it only takes a few to have something else on and we are down to a skeleton crew. We didn't even hold our "famous" raffle, so you can tell that things were bad.

Nevertheless we had a pretty good evening with some of us singing unusual songs around the edge of our repertoires which made for some excitement.

Colin was MC and Derek started us off by taking up his own self-imposed theme of harps. His first song on this theme was The Minstrel Boy (Thomas Moore - Roud 13867). Derek continued his theme with another from Thomas Moore, The Harp That Once Through Tara's Halls (Roud 13392), impressively remembered from childhood and apparently not sung since. Next came The Twa Sisters (Roud 8, Child 10). The Ballad Of James Larkin (Donagh McDonagh) was next and generated some interest for it's phrase "The harp was buried beneath the crown", which reminded Mike of a shanty called The Harp Without A Crown, which he said was a puzzle because, while it seems to be a true shanty, it cannot be traced to any period earlier than the very last days of sail in the early 20th century. Derek's final harp contribution was a funny story of a man who died and went to heaven and became "chocker with harpin'".

Colin gave us Jim Stewart's Winter Shanty. Simon invoked another type of weather event with The Plover Catcher (Elizabeth Padgett) "Welland's flooded wash", expressing concern for the tidal surge expected all along the Lincolnshire coast and more generally the Eastern coast of England (thankfully it passed without serious incident).

Mike referred twice to Paul Simon, first lamenting that some people think the traditional Scarborough Fair (Roud 12, Child 2) is considered by some to be a song he wrote, and that it is rarely sung as a challenge and response, as in this version by Marianne Faithfull, although it's not as obvious here as it might be since she missed the key verse that links the two halves. The second mention of Paul Simon came when Mike sang The Folker, made famous by Fred Wedlock, who incidentally taught Mike English at school (Mike claims that in fact Fred taught him Brizzle while he taught Fred Glot'r). Some discussion ensued about who wrote the song, it being well known that Fred "borrowed" many songs without crediting the original authors. The final conclusion was that the author of this one was Keith Christmas who, by coincidence, Derek knew from his schooldays.

[At the following week's session Mike said that after some further research it appeared The Folker was indeed written by Fred Wedlock and not by Keith Christmas. Keith Christmas was at one stage in Fred's band and apparently wrote several of Fred's songs. Fred wasn't always quick to credit the writer of a song.]

The evening came to a slightly ramshackle but timely end with the arrival of several lads from the bar (not entirely uninvited). One tried to sing The KooksNaïve (Paul Garred, Hugh Harris, Luke Pritchard, Max Rafferty) to the music coming from his phone but forgot the words, and then he and another "helped" Henry sing one of his own songs, Love Broke Us Apart. Finally, in an attempt to sing something everyone might know, Simon gave us Where Have All The Flowers Gone (Pete Seeger, Joe Hickerson), which finished off the evening.

Whatever you perform, as long as it's acoustic, you would be very welcome to join us this Friday. And if you don't perform, your presence as audience would be equally welcome.

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

(Number of people present - 5, of whom 5 performed)

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