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, 30 November 2017

A handful of songs

We met as seven for last week's session which had no theme. The title of this report does not mean we sang only a few songs, for in fact we sang a good number if not exactly a record; I make the total forty. Nor does it imply that the song made famous by Guy Mitchell and Tommy Steele was sung. Nor is there any particular connection with the 1970s children's TV programme of that name (see the photo). It is rather that they seemed to come in a number of small, logical groupings, some of which I will attempt to bring out here.

But first a quick mention of this Friday's session, which will mark St Andrew's Day which takes place just the day before. So the main intent is for the singing of Scottish songs and the playing of Scottish tunes but if you need more scope, then look into the other places and activities of which St Andrew is patron, or otherwise just sing, play or recite anything you like because the theme is optional.

Back to last Friday, Colin, our usual MC was booked for MCing duties elsewhere and therefore Simon took up the pen and official record at the start of the evening. And start the evening he did with Dave Sudbury's King Of Rome. As Simon started to sing this first song, there were only four of us but by the time he had finished we had been joined by Chris and Roger to make six, and by the time Roger had finished his first offering, a harmonica version of the Last Post and Reveille, Colin had arrived to take over as MC and sing in his turn Ewan MacColl's Champion At Keeping 'Em Rolling.

Now to the first group of songs. Simon sang The Smuggler's Song. I won't even try to go into the research done by our friend Tom Mossman which shows it to be unlikely that Rudyard Kipling wrote the words, but it remains that they are presented as a poem in his book of short stories called Puck of Pook's Hill. Derek followed with a song which definitely started as a poem, that being September 1913 by WB Yeats.

Chris and Roger both visited the music hall with Chris singing My Old Man Said Follow The Van (Fred W Leigh, Charles Collins) made famous by Marie Lloyd, which Roger followed with Down At The Old Bull And Bush (Roud 23553) made famous by Florrie Forde and being an adaptation of  Under the Anheuser Bush (Harry Von Tilzer, Andrew B Sterling), the writing of which was commissioned by the Anheuser-Busch brewing company in 1903.

The final group I will look at is inspired retrospectively by a discussion I've been involved in on Facebook this week. Someone suggested it might be good for the popularity of folk clubs if there were folk music acts popular on mainstream television as were The Spinners and The Dubliners for example in former times. Apart from the obvious discussion of what current acts might take up the baton, whether TV was as relevant as it used to be, whether radio was useful or whether exposure should now be on YouTube, it also became clear if it hadn't been before that these acts and other widely popular folk music acts of any period in the last fifty years or so can be very divisive among the "folk community". Is it because they really aren't any good, aren't to people's taste, or simply that popularity and celebrity are taboo in the folk world? Anyway, we had several songs at the session which may be associated with The Spinners.

Simon continued his efforts to exorcise his dislike of The Lincolnshire Poacher (Roud 299). It was Simon again variously accompanied by Derek on spoons and bones with Poverty Knock (Roud 3491, probably written by Tom Daniel). Roger sang Come Landlord Fill The Flowing Bowl (Roud 1234). Chris gave us Shenandoah (Roud 324) and She's Like The Swallow (Roud 2306). OK, so I could probably do this any week but to round off this review, Derek finished the evening with another song which was recorded by The Spinners: The Parting Glass (Roud 3004), sung in the linked recording by a possible current holder of the folk popularity crown, and equally maligned by the folk community, Ed Sheeran, here proving that he can sing a traditional song.

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

(Number of people present - 7, of whom 7 performed)

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