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, 11 May 2017

New Faces for May

Photo: Nikki T
I often say how great a session was in the report and I always mean it but last week was rather special. At the beginning of the evening we assembled as seven regulars, which would have been quite respectable but then a trickle of people started to file into our room, finally making up seven members of the Island Folk Choir. We were very pleased that as well as sharing some of their group singing, several members performed solo and in small groups.

As usual, Colin was MC and he started off the evening and the theme of "May" by singing Pleasant Month Of May (Roud 153); all of Colin's songs of the evening had May connections, however tenuous.

John P noted the recent ANZAC day and that Derek had sung The Band Played Waltzing Matilda the previous week, so he offered us The Drover's Dream (Roud 5473). After Geoff sang Someone's Pinched My Winkles, he suggested that the writer isn't often mentioned these days and invited guesses of who it was. The correct answer was Rolf Harris.

Phil's got us singing along to the chorus of Keep On The Sunny Side (Ada Blenkhorn, J Howard Entwisle).

After giving way on Hal An Tow, which Mike wanted to bag, Simon fell back to his other May song, Lady Franklin's Lament (Roud 487, Laws K9) ("With a hundred seamen he sailed away, To the frozen ocean in the month of May").

As promised, Mike sang Hal An Tow (Roud 1520), which not only deprived Simon of one of his two May songs but also the choir, whose members had planned to sing it. Never mind, it's tradition that Mike sings it and the following Derek will sing Constantine, which is pretty much the same song but from the village of that name just three or four miles as the crow flies from Helston, the source of today's song.

By now the choir were gathered but not quite sure, it seemed, what they would sing. The members present were Polly (the leader), Tom, Sophie, Chloe, Max, Katie and Winnie. While they thought about it, Sophie agreed to sing on her own, and gave us an excellent rendition of The Cruel Mother (Roud 9, Child 20).

As is traditional, I will attempt to name all of the songs sung by visitors or, more optimistically, first timers. Having collected their thoughts, the choir first showed their harmony skills with one of my favourites, the French whaling song, Pique La Baleine. I think Colin wanted to ease them gently into the Dragon Folk Club ways, so he explained that while seven people would usually be asked to sing seven songs on each rotation, he would accept just two.

Next time round it was Polly who gave us a solo performance with Let No Man Steal Your Thyme (Roud 3) before the choir joined in to sing Santianna (Roud 207). They made a point of singing the first few verses quickly and the rest more slowly. This caused some discussion since the basis for the change of tempo was the assumption that weighing anchor would start off quickly and become slower. Mike, our resident member of the Bristol Shantymen explained that it would in fact start slowly as you might be pulling the boat for quite some distance before the anchor got free of the seabed, and then you would speed up as you brought the anchor up through the water. Nevertheless, I think they got away with it because Mike also pointed out that Stan Hugill admitted that if you sang shanties in performance at the speed they were used on board ship, to match the speed of the work, everyone would get bored very quickly.

On the third rotation it was Tom performed alone, singing The Bold Grenadier (Roud 140, Laws P14) and he was followed by the choir with My Son John (Roud 678) after which we broke for the interval. During the interval there were suggestions from some members of the choir that they would be leaving soon, so despite several of them still having their mouths occupied with Max's raffle-prize Curly Wurlies, Polly was immediately asked to sing when we reconvened. She sang My Husband's Got No Courage In Him (Roud 870).

When it came to John P's turn he asked to make it a trio with Tom and Sophie, and together they sang High Germany (Roud 904).

With most of the choir now departed the next round saw Sophie singing Green Grow The Laurels (Roud 279). Derek explained that it may have been American soldiers singing this song for marching that resulted in Mexican's calling them Gringos having misheard the English language singing ("Grin-go the...").

At the end of the evening, Colin asked Derek to finish us off with a song but Derek said he would far rather hear Sophie sing again if she had another song. She obliged, singing with Tom Courting Is A Pleasure (Roud 454).

This Friday's session (12 May 2017) will be without a theme I believe, but as always you are encouraged to come along to sing, play, recite or perform in whichever way you wish as long as it's acoustic. I can't promise we will have the quantity or the quality that we had last week, but we can always hope, and in any case your presence will no doubt add to both!

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

(Number of people present - 14, of whom 14 performed)

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