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, 21 June 2017

White Acres

Roger Whittaker (Photo Wilfried Wittkow)
Summer is a time when people head to the hills and beaches or wherever, so we might expect some of our regulars to miss a few weeks but we are here waiting every Friday to welcome all our folky friends, even those we have yet to meet, who are gravitating in the direction of the South West of England, whether they're staying in the Bristol area or just passing through. Please come and swell our ranks, even if it only for one session. Perhaps you'll like us enough to drop in another time when you're down our way, others have.

Colin was MC and started the session of by referring to a new fast food outlet being built in Fishponds, and sang a song he had "collected" from Maggie S: McDonald's Kitchen (Seamus Kennedy).

Geoff sang Tom Paxton's The Marvelous Toy, which Simon recalled a young Isla St Clair had sung to an audience of troops who had found it very funny - we're too innocent to understand why ;-)

Before taking up his own June theme, Derek gave us a seasonal Corpus Christi Carol (Roud 1523). I don't know the exact provenance but it seemed to have many of the features of this Scottish version but the chorus of this American one framed as a Christmas Carol and collected by John Jacob Niles.

Simon sang Peggy Gordon (Roud 2280) and Mike Fathomed The Bowl (Roud 880).

And so we were back round to Colin who sang The Durham Lockout (Tommy Armstrong). Simon later returned to that city with Roger Whittaker's Durham Town (The Leavin').

Derek pointed out, as Keith G had done on a previous occasion, that it is the river Wear, not the Tyne that flows through Durham. Simon admitted that whatever source it was he had used to obtain the words had changed it to "river side" but he returned it to the original even though it was inaccurate. Whittaker's original intent, to set the song in Newcastle, had been abandoned in favour of nearby Durham because Whittaker agreed with his producer that "Durham" simply sounded better. While focusing the song on Newcastle, Whittaker had set its second verse "on the banks of the river Tyne", and as Whittaker had little or no familiarity with his chosen locale for the song he retained the verse with its Tyneside setting for the song's final version set in Durham. In fact the Tyne flows eastwards through Newcastle but it is the Wear, 20 miles to the south, which flows through Durham.

This wasn't even the last mention in the evening we had of Roger Whittaker, because Geoff performed The Last Farewell. Whittaker hosted a radio programme in 1971, backed by a full orchestra with arrangements by Zack Lawrence. Whittaker is quoted as saying that "one of the ideas I had was to invite listeners to send their poems or lyrics to me and I would make songs out of them. We got a million replies, and I did one each week for 26 weeks". Ron A Webster, a silversmith from Birmingham, England, sent Whittaker his poem entitled "The Last Farewell", and this became one of the selections to appear on the radio programme. It was subsequently recorded and featured on Whittaker's 1971 album New World in the Morning.

Another person touched on with a similar name was John Whitaker, who wrote the music for Colin's song, Darby Kelly (Roud 21859, Thomas Dibdin). If you want to check out Strawhead's story (see the previous video link) about Status Quo, you need to listen to the song Burning Bridges.

Another maybe unexpected link was between Geoff's singing of Roger Miller's King Of The Road and Colin's Me And Bobby McGee, usually associated, by me at least, with Kris Kristofferson who wrote it with Fred Foster but which was in fact originally performed by the same Roger Miller.

Simon pointed out that Derek's first two June-themed songs had another connection, both mentioning, in Derek's versions at least, clipper ships: The Three O'Donnells and Spancil Hill (Roud 22062). And while I'm writing of June songs sung by Derek, I even managed to find a recording of Jug Of Punch (Roud 1808) with a chorus very similar or even maybe the same as he sings it.

As the evening drew to a close Simon sang the topical but oft forbidden Summertime (George Gershwin) and Colin sent us off singing along to The Rosabella (Roud 13252).

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

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

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