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.

Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Christmas 2018

A very satisfactory number of singers were present at our Christmas session last week and not only did they enjoy the singing but also the nibbles at the break - more than just the expected mince pies though there were plenty of those too. Officially this Friday's session (21 December) has no theme but if you want to continue with Christmas, Yule, Bah Humbug or anything else seasonal then no one will stop you.

MC Colin made an earlier-than-usual start with Gather Round The Family (Bonny Sartin), so it was only during Tom's first song, You've Got A Friend (Carole King), that Mike and his canine companion, Indy arrived.

Terry H was trying some of the songs he plays less frequently and some entirely new material. The first of these was Lady Franklin's Lament (Roud 487, Laws K09).

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Contemptible or unaccomplished?

We look forward to seeing hoards of you this Friday for our slightly early Christmas themed session. Come ready to perform songs, tunes, poems, monologues, stories or jokes on the subject of Christmas, Yule or Bah-Humbug, or anything really that takes your fancy. There should be mince pies for the interval.

Last week's session had no theme and the contributions were quite varied as you will see from the usual "selection" link at the bottom of this post. MC, Colin started us off on a theme of leather on willow with The Cricketers Of Hambledon (Bruce Blunt, Peter Warlock).

Geoff followed on with Nowhere Man (Lennon-McCartney) making life very easy for this scribe to find a video. Slightly more difficult to find is Derek's Three Wee Glasgow Molls (Roud 6960). Colin was the only one this time to sing a song I couldn't trace at all which should probably be an embarrassment since Mike clearly knew it and I think Derek may have known it too.

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

St Andrew's Day 2018

Saint Andrew the Apostle by Artus Wolffort
After last week's excellent St Andrew's Day session we return to a themeless evening this Friday where anything goes as long as it's acoustic and legal (although we have had songs in the past the singing of which might have got you locked up only a few years ago).

MC Colin kicked us off in appropriately Scottish mood with the poem St. Andrew's Day-A Toast by Jean Blewett which he put to a familiar tune which escapes me at the moment.

We were joined for the first time in several years by Chris S who didn't sing on previous occasions. This time he started off with his own part-finished work, Be The One To Turn To, and continued with borrowed words, singing Michael Row The Boat Ashore (Roud 11975), Drink Up Thy Zider (Adge Cutler) and Kumbaya.

It would be very easy for me to go through a variety of Scottish songs we heard through the evening, and there were plenty as you will see, but as I pointed out in the report two weeks ago, St Andrew is patron of a lot of places, professions and other things apart from Scotland, so let's go on a partial tour of those.

Wednesday, 28 November 2018


Harry Liston (1843-1929)
Despite the absence of Mike and his trusty canine companion, Indy we had a great session last week. We were joined again by Steve C and for the first time by Liz. Carl also came along having visited us before in February of this year.

Remember this weeks session (30 November) will have the theme of St Andrew's Day. I listed in last week's blog report all the patronages held by Andrew, so there's no excuse for having nothing to sing but if you are still at a loss bear in mind that we are always happy for people to offer us material that doesn't follow the theme - we may even sometimes find a connection for you.

Last week's session started with MC, Colin singing The Ee-rye-ee Canal (Roud 6599).

Liz, on her first visit, came thinking she would sing only one song, that being The Three Ravens (Roud 5, Child 26). Little did she know the persuasive capabilities of our MC. Without her realising the covert coercion being applied (only joking) she sang a further three: Whiskey In The Jar (Roud 533, Laws L13A), Away Ye Merry Lasses (Georje Holper) and The Water (Johnny Flynn).

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Remembrance 2018

Photo: Simon Meeds
Last week's session was our Remembrance special. It was good for the regular crew to be joined by Steve C. Having been absent at our last session, Derek hadn't prepared songs to the theme but as usual he provided plenty of topical material.

This week's session will have no theme but be prepared for the following one on 30 November, which will have a St Andrew's Day theme. As well as being patron Saint of Scotland, which is of course the main target of the evening, it may be useful to know that he is patron of: Barbados, Georgia, Ukraine, Russia, Sicily, Greece, Cyprus, Romania, Patras, Burgundy, San Andrés (Tenerife), Diocese of Parañaque, Telhado (Portugal), Amalfi, Luqa (Malta) and Prussia; Diocese of Victoria; fishermen, fishmongers and rope-makers, textile workers, singers, miners, pregnant women, butchers, farm workers, protection against sore throats, protection against convulsions, protection against fever, and protection against whooping cough. You should find something there to sing about.

And so, back to last week, Colin was MC and started off the theme with a good WWI sing-along to Bless 'Em All (Fred Godfrey, Robert Kewley - Roud 8402).

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Campfire - Guy Fawkes 2018

Lewes Bonfire Night
(Photo by Simon Trimby)
Last week's "campfire" session to mark Guy Fawkes Night. We were a bit think on the ground in part because of a "lurgy" but we soldiered on and came up with quite a variety of material. This week there is no Dragon Folk Club session so don't turn up at The Bridge expecting music unless you want to be in the middle of a Charity Ladies' Night. But we are back at the songface on Friday 16 November with our Remembrance themed session. Please be there so we can make a noise for commemorating wars, condemning war or whatever you fancy.

So, back to last week, MC Colin started proceedings with Richard Digance's Boy Scout Song.

We carried on with mention of campfires such as Simon's Rocky Mountain High (John Denver), mention of camps as in Geoff's Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh (Allan Sherman, Lou Busch) or mention of fires in Mike's The Fireship (Roud 4841).

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Halloween 2018

Friendly zombies in Dublin (Photo: Simon Meeds)
Last week's session was Halloween and this Friday it will be a Campire theme. You are always very welcome to join us but particularly this week if you can contribute songs, tunes, poems or stories relevant to Guy Fawkes, fireworks, bonfires, campfires or anything else that seems appropriate.

Last Friday's session started before the whistle blew and even before I arrived. I am told that a pub regular entered the room and offered to sing. He gave those present two songs which I understand to have been The Queen Of My Heart (Jimmie Rodgers) and Devil Woman (Terry Britten, Christine Holmes). We might even suggest that the latter was on theme!

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

The need for speed

Fiat S76, The Beast of Turin (Photo: Simon Meeds)
Last week was the final theme-less session until we are well into November. This week's theme is Halloween. The theme is optional but songs, tunes, stories and poems of ghosts and ghouls, witches and wizards, and of course All Saints will be very welcome along with any other tenuous links you can come up with.

So back to last Friday; Colin was MC and started the evening with If It Wasn't For The 'Ouses In Between (Edgar Bateman, George Le Brunn - Roud V35719).

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

EF-in saints and sinners

Glendalough (Photo: Allan Henderson)
This week's report is going to be slightly shorter than usual but you will find that a remarkable count of 34 of the 35 songs we sang have been found on YouTube, so there's plenty to listen to behind the link at the bottom of this report.

Colin was MC as usual and started off the evening with John Dory (Roud 249, Child 284).

Geoff went to the song catalogue of the Eagles for Jack Tempchin's Peaceful Easy Feeling.

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

CDs, rakes, doffers and marbles

Outside the pub at Tinsley Green, Sussex, 1936.
The singer George 'Pop' Maynard
is seen on the right of the picture.
(Photo from Keith Summers Collection)
It was good to welcome Geoff back into the fold last Friday after his sabbatical, so he made us quorate once again, which is always a good thing.

Colin was MC and started us off with Jordan Is A Hard Road To Travel (Dan Emmett - Roud 12153). The first two lines of the song, at least as Colin sang it, are "Rain forty nights, gonna rain forty days,
Gonna rain on the Allegheny mountains" which inspired Derek to sing the First World War song, Raining, Raining, Raining.

Geoff's first song after his recent break from the club was Far Away In Australia (Roud 25792) although I'm pretty sure that's not where he's been.

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

There's no B in Liverpool

Liverpool's "Three Graces" (Photo: Simon Meeds)
I'm afraid I have to keep the report fairly short this week, would you believe because I'm planning to go out and hear more music, and maybe sing a bit too. But first there are some significant parish notices.
With one exception as you will read in a moment, we meet every Friday and usually you can sing whatever you like at our sessions but sometimes we have an evening with an optional theme, and we happen to have a few of those coming up. You don't have to follow the theme with all of your songs, but it's nice if you can bring something to the party.

26 October - Halloween theme (All Saints, All Souls, ghosts, witches, etc.)
2 November - Campfire theme (camping, fires, fireworks, Guy Fawkes, etc.)
9 November - No session (if you come to the pub you may find yourself in the middle of a charity Ladies' Night)
16 November - Remembrance theme (war, anti-war, remembrance, etc.)

With that out of the way, let's get on with the report.

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Peace as a starting point

International Day of Peace logo
It was great last Friday to be joined by Steve C and Jane to make us properly quorate for the first time since the harvest. The pub was very quiet, so we had a good session.

Colin MCed as usual and kicked us off by announcing that it was International Day of Peace. As it happens I knew this because I'd heard the Dean of Bristol Cathedral asking the cathedral bell ringers to mark it by ringing a special "touch" at their practice. Colin sang Where Have All The Flowers Gone (Pete Seeger, Joe Hickerson).

Derek said he hadn't worked out a song for the day, 21 September, but he had songs for 20th, 22nd and 23rd. His first three songs were therefore Kevin Barry (Roud 3014) who was executed for his part in an ambush which took place on 20 September 1920, The Gresford Disaster (Roud 3089) which took place on 22 September 1934, and The Boys From Gwent (Meic Stephens) who on 23 September 1962 hampered construction of the Tryweryn Dam which would flood the village of Capel Celyn.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Twins and triplets

(Photo: The Berkshire Eagle)
The most important announcement from last week was that two weeks previously our harvest sessin raised £50 for the BBC Radio Bristol Alive Appeal. Thanks to those who came along to support us; that was not a bad haul for the small group that was present.

Back to last week, while Mike brought a theme and sang three songs to it, joined by some sort of clairvoyance, for he had not announced the theme, by Derek, it seems that the performances fall nicely into many sets of two or three, so that is how I will present them.

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Mind your language

The Rosetta Stone (Photo: Tony Hall)
I'm afraid last week's session was marked by a very low turn-out - only four of us to keep the tradition going. Nevertheless we got through a good selection of songs: 37 in total; nowhere near a record but pretty creditable.

Colin, the MC, started off with a song often sung by our friend Gary H: Sea Dog by Bob Zentz, from a poem by Burt Franklin Jenness. Only later did Colin tell us that his personal theme was miserable songs, a theme which Derek, by his own admission, is able to follow anytime without any particular intention and to prove it before it had even been mentioned sang The Twa Brothers (Roud 38, Child 49).

Simon marked the Last Night of the Proms with Isabel Makes Love Upon National Monuments (Jake Thackray - "On the last night of the Promenades she waved to the conductor").

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Harvest 2018

(Photo: Herry Lawford)
It was a disappointment that we could only muster six people for our annual charity Harvest session; six is enough to make a lively musical evening but not to make a fortune in money raised for the BBC Radio Bristol Alive Appeal. It was however to good to see a brace of Terries (C and H).

MC Colin sang the first song, All Of A Row (Roud 1474). Derek asked whether this was in fact the Suffolk Harvest Home but it seems not, because that is apparently a version of Roud 310 ("Here's a health unto our master... drink, boys, drink").

Thursday, 30 August 2018


Jim Larkin (Photo: William Murphy)
From the sublime to the ridiculous. No that's not fair but from a throng of eleven people the previous week to a huddle of four last week was a little disappointing. Yes, two people had offered their apologies.

At this stage I must remember to mention that this week's session on Friday 31 August will be our annual Harvest. Songs, tunes and stories following some sort of harvest theme are encouraged as is bringing produce from garden, allotment or supermarket and plenty of money to spend in aid of our chosen charity which this year is BBC Radio Bristol's Alive Appeal which aims to raise £50,000 to fund 300 activity sessions in care homes and day centres across Bristol, North Somerset, South Gloucestershire and Bath and North East Somerset. The 'Alive' charity uses music, dance, storytelling, objects from the past and touchscreens to spark memories and conversations bringing joy, laughter and fun to people who may be living with dementia or who have become demotivated, depressed or inactive.

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

A bigger session

(Photo: Karl-Axel Lagerholm)
Well, last Friday was a surprise and not just because of the arrival since the week before of a pool table and it's associated accoutrements in "our" room. No, despite the absence of our regular MC, Colin, we had a surprisingly large throng, a wealth of performers, and it was mainly thanks to Rose, her decision to come from her distant home to see us, and her power to draw in the crowds. Thanks Rose! We managed to work around the elephant, or rather table, in the room and cued up an impressive array of songs.

Simon took the baton as MC for the evening and reminded us that in two weeks (now a little over one week as I write), on the 31 August, we will have our annual harvest session. Everyone is encouraged to attend, bringing if they so choose performances related more or less to the harvest, also produce from their gardens, allotments or supermarkets, and cash to spend and donate to the chosen charity, which isn't yet finalised - watch this space. It's always a fun evening and even more so if we can gather a good crowd.

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

More Of Your Nonsense

Old man of Port Grigor
(image: Edward Lear, adapted by Goetz Kluge)
With Derek back in the fold last week I have an apology to make. The week before, he wasn't apparently watching Glamorgan beat Gloucestershire at cricket, though he would have rather been doing so than what he was doing - hearing a mechanic make the traditional mechanic's sound of air inhaled through teeth while considering the repairs necessary to Derek's car which was in serious ill health.

Anyway, straight on to the music, Colin as MC kicked off with what he described as a bit of nonsense... The Tailor And The Mouse (Roud 16577).

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Where is our recruiting sergeant?

The Female Drummer (Photo: Simon Meeds)
In the absence of Derek last week, perhaps watching his beloved Glamorgan narrowly beat Gloucestershire at the cricket, we were very pleased to see Tom again so soon after his last visit, bringing us up to a just quorate five singers for the evening.

Colin, MCing as usual, started things off with Matt McGinn's Manura Manya, followed swiftly by Geoff, with the song which inspired it, The Kerry Recruit (Roud 520, Laws J8).

The latter led Mike to propose a recruiting theme, for which he provided The Female Drummer (Roud 226). Geoff retorted with The Good Ship Calabar and Mike came back with The Bold Fusilier (Pete Coe, based on a traditional song).

Simon continued his Canadian theme of two weeks previously with The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald (Gordon Lightfoot), Peggy Gordon (Roud 2280), Lady Franklin's Lament (Roud 487, Laws K9) and Big Yellow Taxi (Joni Mitchell).

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

A mixed bag

Martin Said to his Man (print: Maxine Copeland)
Last week's session was a return to satisfying numbers with a surprise visit from Tom, and a first-time visit from Trevor. You'll notice that this report is back to normal this week. I don't know whether that's a good thing or a bad one but either way I am endebted to those who have filled in for me in my absence over the last few weeks.

We had learned rather belatedly from a comment on a previous blog post of the death of Joe Rushbrook, who attended our sessions on-and-off for quite some time with his carer Joscie. In fact it was Joscie who informed us that his funeral was on 6 July. If Joscie sees this, I am sorry I didn't get the message in time to invite our members but everyone present who knew him was pleased that you made the effort and I understand that Tom, who was particularly friendly with Joe, had already passed on our condolences.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

School’s (nearly) out

Those of us (this is the Substitute Scribe speaking) who work at the chalkface are already getting twitchy at the thought of the approaching holiday, and the twitchiness was increased by the emergence of a theme relating to the teaching of and attitude towards folk music in school, along with recollections of teachers telling children with ‘distinctive’ voices to confine themselves to mime.

Songs sung in this category ranged from genuine, if bowdlerised, folksongs learned from BBC broadcasts, to dubious parodies. These included The Keeper [Roud 1519], Mrs McGrath [Roud 678], Green and Yellow [a version of Lord Randall, Child 12, much favoured by Pam Ayres], Life Presents a Dismal Picture [to the tune of Scarlet Ribbons, though often sung to Hark the Herald] – all by Mike – Soldier Soldier [Roud 489], Prickle Holly Bush [Child 89] and (whilst on the subject of schools) Keith Gregson’s Steelworks Song –all Derek.

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

The official record

In the absence of the usual scribe and the regular deputy scribe, this report of last weeks session comes in a simplified format from the official record of the Dragon Folk Club.

Colin: The apprentice song; Back home in Derry; Dutchmans trousers; across the line; Eddystone light.

New visitor, Jan Miller from Bude in Cornwall ,visiting her son sang unaccompanied the following: Sheep stealer; Pinjarrah dreams; Charlotte Diamond; the recruiting sergeant; John Conden.

Tom - Buddy can you spare a dime; Autumn Leaves; Sweet baby Jane; Lasso the moon; White trash.

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Give me that old time religion

(Photo: Simon Meeds)
It'll be a concise report of last week's session but I hope it will still give you a flavour of what happened.

There was a tongue in cheek note at the end of the previous week's blog report that there might be a theme of carrier bags. Colin started us off with his one plastic bag song: Benledi Street Ballad. Apparently Coin found three other songs about bags but hadn't been able to prepare them for performance.

I don't think Derek's Lake of Coolfin (Roud 189, Laws Q33) had anything to do with bags of any kind and neither did Geoff's first: Master McGrath (James Custer, Roud V32683).

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

The Songs People Sing

Appleby Horse Fair (Photo: Bryan Ledgard)
A brief traditional riddle for readers to solve: what did the following people do on the specified dates, which on 22nd June 2018 gave the Substitute Scribe 20 minutes respite from scribing, while the others argued about the answer?- Joe South (1968), Freddy Weller (of Paul Revere and the Raiders 1969), Dolly Parton (1969), Conway Twitty (1969), Don Gibson (1970), Sami Jo (1974), Dick Gaughan (1983), Tesla (1994), Inner Circle (1994) and Don Williams 1995.

The answer is that they all recorded The Games People Play (Joe South), which Colin sang in the course of the evening. As far as I am aware Colin has not recorded it, but 'Basement' tapes may begin to appear soon. And I need to point out that two other songs – but with the same title - were recorded by The Alan Parsons Project (1987) and The Spinners (1975). Sorry, not those Spinners, but an American R&B group [Ed: known in the UK as The Detroit Spinners to avoid just such confusion].

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

The bag of wind

(Photo: Marco Verch)
Last week's session was a bit thin on the ground for bodies but with some ad hoc themes we made it a worthwhile evening. Being the start of the football World Cup, "the beautiful game" (let me go off and be sick for a moment) and Russia were obvious candidates.

Colin, being MC, started us off with The Old Man Who lived In The Woods (Roud 281, Laws Q1).

Derek was the first to address the subject of the bag of wind with Little Sir Hugh (Roud 73, Child 155) - "...the lads of merry Lincoln, when they play at the ball".

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

The stories behind the songs

Coffee Culture (photo: Simon Meeds)
Last Friday some flyers for Whitby Folk Week had arrived, so the first part of the evening involved a communal inspection of the leaflet. It seemed that many on the long list of performers were from the folk old guard, and so several stories, both fond and bitter were told. I won't recount any here for fear of accusations of libel.

The session proper was MCed by Colin who kicked off with Captain Coulston (Roud 1695).

The previous week's discussion of Eniskillen/Inniskilling Dragoon (Tommy Makem [this version], Roud 2185) was continued by Geoff. While I don't claim Wikipedia to be the fount of all knowledge, this article gives a little more information which seems plausible. And yes, Tommy Makem called the version in the linked video Fare Thee Well Enniskillen and refashioned it to describe the Peninsular War.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Another One of Those Nights!

Bob Hart
This is the Substitute Scribe speaking. Firstly may I make it entirely clear that no one made a sustained attempt to actually sing The Purple People Eater (sorry, I don’t know its Roud number!) Colin however did sing Down by the Dockyard Wall. Derek then queried a similarity in the tune to that of Dave Webber’s Watch and Chain. Colin pointed out that both tune and words of Dockyard Wall were by Shep Woolley. Geoff proceeded to identify him as a regular actor in Rawhide and as the singer /composer of The Purple People Eater. However, as subsequent research reveals, the latter was actually Sheb Wooley[1]. The Southampton-based Shep was given his nickname (even a long thread on Mudcat nearly 10 years ago failed to reveal his real name) because he was rather more agricultural than Sheb.

Yes, folks – it was another of those Dragon nights when the craic in between is more interesting than the actual songs! And by the way did you know that the English ‘crack’ was the original word and it was only Gaelicised into ‘craic’ later? If so, please make an effort to get to the Bridge – we need your brains.

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

May it be Whitsun

Whitsun dove (Photo: Cornelia Kopp - Alice Popkorn)
Thanks to those who attended last week's session. This week will again have no set theme though you are welcome to come along with your own ideas for a theme and people may even join you in it. We're particularly keen for you to give us a try this week because we will be at least one regular down on the full compliment.

Last Friday Colin was MC and started us off with a mini theme of May given that it was our last session of the month. His first was The Bold Fisherman (Roud 291, Laws O24) and he followed that with The Spotted Cow (Roud 956).

Geoff's first song of the evening was The Humour Is On Me Now (Roud 29549) and in doing so, it seems, he latched on to Colin's May theme.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Royal Wedding or When Harry met Meghan

The wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan
(Photo: Implausibleblog)
Last week's session had no official theme but Colin, as MC, immediately declared that he would be singing some wedding songs to mark the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan. Despite some mutterings from our republican contingent everyone present in the end contributed to the theme.

Colin started us off in a wedding direction with Here's To The Couple (JN Maselwa, Pete Seeger) and carried on despite no one initially joining him, with Mairi's Wedding (John Roderick Bannerman, Sir Hugh Roberton), modified for the occasion to Harry's Wedding.

Derek's first obvious contribution to the marriage theme was Lord Thomas And Fair Annet (Roud 4, Child 73) which could be said to have some relevance in including a "brown girl" though that would originally have meant a lady less desirable because she works outdoors. Once on the theme though there was no stopping Derek, whose next song was False Lover Won Back (Roud 201, Child 218).

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

The importance of visitors

Constantine Parish Church, Cornwall (Photo: Tim Green)
Last week's session may have no theme but it certainly saw a decent turnout at the Dragon Folk Club. There's no theme again this week so I hope we can expect the same again.

We were treated to the second visit in a fortnight by the wanderers from Yorkshire, Malcolm and Janet (yes, I've now learned her name though I understand she liked being called "Malcolm's lady"). They brought along a West Midlands contingent in the form of  Dragon first-timers, Steve and Denise.

Colin, being MC as usual, started us off with Ben Backstay (Roud 21256).

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

May Day 2018

Padstow 'Obby 'Oss (Photo: Bryan Ledgard)
Last week's session had the theme of May, being our closest to the first of that month. So we roved out with Colin, our MC, who started the evening off with the Pleasant Month Of May (Roud 153).

Mike led us on our customary journey to Helston in Cornwall with Hal An Tow (Roud 1520) and Colin took us 40 miles North East to Padstow, singing the Padstow Morning Song (Roud 305). Towards the end of the evening Colin sang another song with Padstow connections, though also known in other areas of the country including Oxfordshire and Cambridgeshire; this was the May Day Carol (Roud 305).

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

St George's Day 2018

We had an excellent turn-out for last week's St George's Day themed session. This Friday's theme (4 May) will be appropriately themed for May songs.

Last week we were pleased to see semi-regulars, Steve C and Jane and it was great to welcome again Malcolm and his lady, whose name I'm afraid to say I still haven't captured, on one of their occasional visits to Bristol from their home in Yorkshire.

Colin was, as usual, MC and he started the evening off with Richard Thompson's The New Saint George. This wasn't the only Thompson song of the evening for John P gave us Albion Sunrise.

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Anzacs, a story of two Bostons and space oddities

The dock at Boston, Lincolnshire
Last week's session was originally to have been the proxy St George's Day but it has been moved to this week, so get your George, dragon and England songs, tunes, poems and stories out this Friday and come along to the Bridge. If you need any more inspiration, apart from England, St George is patron saint of:
agricultural workers; Amersfoort, Netherlands; Aragon; archers; armourers; Bavaria, Germany; Beirut, Lebanon; Bulgaria; Bulgarian Army; Cáceres, Spain; Cappadocia; Castilla y León; Catalonia; cavalry; chivalry; Constantinople; Corinthians (Brazilian football team); Crusaders; equestrians; Ethiopia; farmers; Ferrara, Italy; field workers; Freiburg, Germany; Genoa; Georgia; Gozo; Greece; Haldern, Germany; Heide; horsemen; horses; knights; lepers and leprosy; Lithuania; Lod; London; Malta; Modica, Sicily; Montenegro; Moscow; Order of the Garter; Palestine; Palestinian Christians; Piran, Italy; Portugal; Portuguese Army; Portuguese Navy; Ptuj, Slovenia; Reggio Calabria; riders; Romani people; saddle makers; Serbia; Scouts; sheep; shepherds; skin diseases; Slovenia; soldiers; and Teutonic Knights.
Back to last week, Colin was MC and started of with Utah Phillips' All Used Up.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

They've come to take me away

Ambulance (thanks to anyjazz65)
An interesting session last week had a variety of mini-themes and outliers. Before settling down to a report I must inform you that our St George's Day session has been postponed, so this week's session (20 April) will have no theme and it is next week (27 April), when you are invited to bring all your material relating to England, St George, dragons and anything else that may seem relevant.

Back to last week, there was no official theme but Colin, while efficiently filling his role as MC, took upon himself a theme of songs written by our old friend, Richard Gillion, most of which took superstitions as their subject, it being Friday 13th.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Hunting for pet hates

Headstone of John Peel in the churchyard of
St Kentigern's Church,
Caldbeck, Wigton, Cumbria, UK
(Photo: Mark W Barker)
Last week's session had no official theme. Fewer songs were sung than usual as for a change, and quite unplanned, the whole of the second half was given over to chat, mainly about driving tests and riding motorbikes. Normal service will no doubt be restored this week.

Nevertheless, a good range of material was aired in the first half. Colin was MC and started us off with Gentlemen Of High Renown (Roud 190), singing the Copper Family's words to Martin Carthy's tune. Mike's attempt at following the hunting theme had to be delayed when he initially forgot the tune to The Hounds Are Out (Roud 24901).

While Mike was struggling, Derek offered to help, suggesting at one stage that he might be thinking of John Peel. Mike told us how his class at school had to sing that song and while he was in the choir others were not so proficient and the awful sound they made put him off singing for ten years until he joined a rock and roll band. Derek therefore dug deep to give us a rendition of The Old John Peel, just to annoy Mike. Derek carried on the theme with The Horn Of The Hunter (Roud 1859, Jackson Gillbanks) from the singing of Fred Jordan but he was foiled because it turned out that Mike likes that song.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Easter eggs and hot cross buns

Easter eggs (photo: Ikonact)
We had a session in spite of it being Good Friday; it takes more than that to cancel a Dragon Folk Club Session as long as the pub makes our room available. Officially there was no theme but Colin, also playing MC, kept to Easter-related songs and Derek up to Easter through several other self-set themes while the others present mixed things up a bit more.

It was with great pleasure that we welcomed first time visitors Debbie and Hazel.  Debbie, from the Isle of Wight was keen to point out how much folk there is on the island and that if we visit we must consul her folkonwight website. As usual with first timers, I will mention all of the songs they sang through the evening.

Colin was MC and started us off straight into Easter with The Old Rugged Cross (George Bennard, Roud 22417).

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

…That’s what I wrote it for

Fred Wedlock (Photo by Weydonian)
When your Substitute Scribe asked Mike, who had just sung The Redland Green Bobby [British Bobby], to confirm his view that it was "One of Fred's", little did he realise that the question would develop into one of those half-hour ‘workshop’ discussions for which The Dragon is (in)famous – in this case on the question of Folk Music, Copyright and Attributing Songs to the Correct Writer. The conversation passed, anecdotally and polemically, through such writers as Mr Wedlock, Cyril Tawney, Roger Watson, Canadian guitarist Vera Johnson, Ed Pickford, Michael Starkey and Woody Guthrie, whose copyright notice is referenced in the title above viz. "This song is copyrighted in U.S. for a period of 28 years, and anybody caught singing it without my permission, will be a mighty good friend of mine, 'cause that's what I wrote it for."

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

St Patrick's Day - 2018

Last week's session was for St Patrick, who is patron saint of engineers and paralegals as well as of many geographical locations but of course our main focus was on Ireland.

Colin was MC and he started the evening off with The Gals O' Dublin Town (Roud 7989).

We had a good representation of song of Ireland but a number of other events and occasions were also marked. Talk of Cheltenham races led to Derek singing Creeping Jane (Roud 1012, Laws Q23) and Colin, no doubt planned anyway as part of his Irish set, The Galway Farmer (Steve Knightley).

Derek, further delaying his entry into the week's theme, pointed out that the preceding Sunday had been Mothering Sunday, which he traditionally marks with the singing of The Rose And The Gillyflower.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Dewi Deferred

Saint David (Dewi Sant)
Last week's Dragon Folk Club session was relatively well attended with eight performers and two audience members. The audience, who said they enjoyed the evening but had to leave early were Paul and Monica; we hope to see you again soon. We were also joined from over the bridge (i.e. having travelled from his home in South Wales) by Barry. I'm not sure whether Barry has been to the DFC before but whether or not, he was very welcome.

It has come to my notice that there is an even going on that may be of interest to our regulars, particularly those who have been coming to the club for a very long time. There is an exhibition at the Yate & District Heritage Centre which runs until the 17 March, entitled The Pubs of Yate and Sodbury. It is notable because the advert for the exhibition on Facebook shows The Lamb Inn at Iron Acton, which was the original venue for the club, being its home for the first seventeen and a half years of its existence.

Back to last week's session, it informally inherited the theme of St David (Dewi Sant in Welsh) from the previous week's abortive event, which just didn't happen because of the snow. Colin was MC and He started off proceedings appropriately with the Bells Of Rhymney, a song first recorded by Pete Seeger, using words written by Welsh poet Idris Davies. The lyrics to the song were drawn from part of Davies' poetic work Gwalia Deserta ("Wasteland of Wales"), which was first published in 1938.

Friday, 2 March 2018

Deep and crisp and even

Here I am, writing the folk club report when I should be at the folk club. I was to be in charge this week, since Colin is out and about barn dancing. Expecting a low turn-out I did quite a bit of advertising: some directed, some scatter-gun, so it was difficult to tell everyone that we were unlikely to have an effective session. The upshot was that I decided to put in an appearance if at all possible.

So, off I set, about 20 minutes earlier than usual: out of our village the first issue was the hill up to the motorway. I came to a halt, wary of an oncoming car and had difficulty getting going again. The motorway wasn't too bad - 30-40 miles per hour seemed reasonable. There were one or two stranded cars on the way and emergency vehicles around to help. The ring road wasn’t much worse than the motorway, and then I made my way up the road towards Pucklechurch. While it was easily navigable, there were stationary cars everywhere, presumably abandoned there last night. I should have been warned by the car trying to free itself from the Shortwood turning but no, I carried on for a little way, turned round and found it gone when I regained the turning. I turned in and was immediately and, so it seemed, irretrievably stuck.

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Parodic episodes

Before I start the report on last week's session, can implore you to make an effort, even through the terrible weather, unless of course it is unsafe to do so, to attend this week's session. It is our St David's Day bash, when Welsh themed songs, tunes and other modes of performance are particularly welcome, but anything else will go too. The issue is that we will be without two stalwarts of the club for one week only and particularly with the expected bad weather there is a significant risk that we will turn up short of a quorum and go home without a word being sung or a note played. I know that if two or three of our irregulars, or even newcomers, can find the strength to turn out we can have a great evening, and of course the more the merrier; even audience members are welcome to join us.

Back to last week's session, Colin was MC and he started off the officially unthemed session with Ewan MacColl's Manchester Rambler.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Valentine's Day 2018

A blindfolded, armed Cupid (1452/66)
by Piero della Francesca
Last week's Dragon Folk Club session was our closest to Valentine's Day, so it was our usual seasonal theme of Love and Lust, a theme which had a very high hit rate. In fact I think that there were only three songs that didn't somehow connect to the theme, but even they were for very good reason.

The first was Derek with what he said was Ewan MacColl's version of Windy Old Weather. This was the completion of his final pair of songs from the previous week's session. I managed to find the lyrics in this document (page 73) but without attribution. I did however manage to find reference to it in relation to a radio programme "Singing the fishing" which was one of the Radio Ballads series (broadcast 16 August 1960, repeated 6 November 1960) which included in its credits Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger.

The other two off-theme songs should really have been admirably on theme. Derek sang The Bold Princess Royal (Roud 528, Laws K29) "On the 14th of February..." and Mike sang a hunting song, Last Valentine's Day (Roud 6475).

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Derek's pairs

Before I get to the report on last week's session, there are some parish announcements, specifically announcements of some upcoming theme nights:
  • 16 February - Valentine's Day theme of love and lust
  • 2 March - St David's Day theme of all things Welsh and otherwise related
  • 16 March - St Patrick's Day theme of all things Irish and otherwise related
  • 27 April - St George's Day theme of all things English and otherwise related
Any Friday where no theme is mentioned, there will be a session with no theme. Themes are always optional and just for fun (with one possible annual exception but it's way too early to worry about that).

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Keeping the music alive

Poster for the Winter Dance Party tour
featuring the ill-fated Buddy Holly,
Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper
Last week's session was billed as having the dual theme of rugby, for the start of the 2018 Six Nations Championship, and the anniversary of the death of Buddy Holly. Well, we didn't get much rugby but we did make a fair stab in before the break at "The Day The Music Died", hence the title of this report. And yes, the report doesn't mention much "real" folk music this week but I hope you find it interesting and there's still plenty of the "real drop" if you follow the "a selection" link at the bottom of this account.

Colin was MC and he started off the session with Sting's Fields Of Gold. much later in the evening, Simon suggested pairing that with his Sailing To Philadelphia (Mark Knopfler), both songs being written by rock musicians from the North East of England. Derek recalled a local singer when he was based in the North East himself who often sang the songs of Graeme Miles, a Middlesbrough man. One of the songs he sang was Fields Of Gold and with Derek's knowledge of modern popular music being limited, he assumed for a long time the song had been written by Miles. Colin too was surprised to learn that it was by Sting since he associated it with Eva Cassidy's enchanting version.

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Burns Night 2018

Robert Burns
Yes, last Friday was our annual Burns Night session. Almost all of the songs sung had a Scottish connection. I won't nit pick over the ones which were tenuous because they were few.

Some even had a Robert Burns connection though Mike informed us that opinion is turning to the position he has long believed, that Burns was more of a collector and editor than a songwriter. Therefore I will not note here the Burns connections of any particular songs, and I'll leave it to the reader to work out which were by him, which were rewritten or augmented by him, and which were simply collected.

First the usual announcement. There was discussion about a theme for this Friday's session. Colin suggested the rugby, and Geoff said he would be marking the anniversary of the death of Buddy Holly. That gave Simon some ideas which he didn't share. So as usual, take these suggestions if you like or come and share something totally different with us. And if you don't wish to perform, it's fine to be an audience too.