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.

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.

At some point the school conversation ran to a mention of the ancient school celebration of Empire Day and precisely when it changed to Commonwealth Day. The change was actually announced in 1958, but only after that year’s celebration (24th May); so the first Commonwealth Day was actually in 1959 (changed to 3rdMonday of March). Our attempts to relate the change to that of the Empire/Commonwealth Games were doomed to complex failure since they were entitled the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in 1958 and 1962.

Whilst the school theme wended its way onward we were also entertained by:

Colin – Two Good Arms [Charlie King’s tribute to Sacco and Vanzetti], Chitterlings[Adge Cutler], Handsome Molly [Roud 454], Coalhole Cavalry [Ted Edwards] and, aided by Geoff and accompanied by the creaking sound of standards being lowered, a version of Mademoiselle From Armentieres which even Roud wouldn’t touch with a bargepole!

Geoff – King of the Road [Roger Miller], Memphis Tennessee [Chuck Berry], Pearl’s a Singer [Elkie Brooks], Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde [Mitch Murray/Peter Callander] and Seasons in the Sun [Jacques Brel/Rod McKuen].

Finally there was considerable discussion on the superstition of whistling aboard ship. I know it may lead to a thousand objections, but I want to state what I believe is correct in most cases:

Sailors were allowed, indeed encouraged, to ‘whistle up the wind’ when there was not enough wind to sail on.

Occasionally ships cooks were required to whistle while cooking to prove they were not eating the food.

At all other times sailors were banned from whistling, for two reasons: a) they might whistle up the wrong wind b) their whistles might lead someone to think it was the boatswain’s whistle giving an order.

All sailors knew the boatswain’s signals. On shore sailors, since they knew rigging, often worked in theatres and whistled the signals to each other. Actors became superstitious about whistling themselves in case a rigger thought it was a signal and dropped a flat on the unfortunate actor!

(4 present, 4 sang.)


On Friday 20th July we will have our usual session. There is the possibility of roadworks in the vicinity, so consider setting out a little earlier than usual.

On Friday 27th July The Bridge is having a large-scale ‘do’ and need the Back Room – so NO CLUB for that night only.

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; Lasoo the moon; White trash.

Kath played her concertina and did: Salmon tales; Planty Irwin; Winster gallop: Sí Bheag, Sí Mhór; Loch Lomond.

Mike sang: The Transports song; Fred Wedlock's version of English country garden; Able Rogers (wave over wave).

Chris: She's like a swallow; The water is wide; Idle ways and sunny days; Shenandoah.

Roger: Henry the eighth I am; Autumn leaves (with french words which Tom whispered to me was named as les feuilles mortes); Woad; Sloop John B.

Geoff arrived with John after the footie.

Geoff: The ships that do sail; Fully fledged guard; McAlpines fusiliers.

John: Marco Polo; Across the hills; I am going (Shane MacGowan)

Normal service will return shortly and in the meantime, please come along to this week’s session.

(Number present: 9 of which 9 performed)

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).

Mike refused to sing Streets Of London, which of course mentions carrier bags but instead gave us a parody: McDonald's Kitchen (Seamus Kennedy). Simon claimed to have misheard Mike saying "plastic bags" and sang Richard Stilgoe's Little Plastic Packs.

This was followed immediately by Colin with Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah which Derek took as the call to a religious theme and gave us The Volunteer Organist by WB Glenroy (William B Gray) with music by Henry Lamb (Henry Spaulding). Simon's religious offering was The Unicorn Song (Shel Silverstein). Derek followed his theme with Dives And Lazarus (Roud 477, Child 56).. Mike joined in with The Vicar And The Frog (Stan Crowther). Colin found a pretty good fit for a follow-my-neighbour with The Frog's Courtship (Leslie Haworth). Derek's continued on this theme for two more songs: The Bitter Withy (Roud 452) and They're Shifting Father's Grave To Build A Sewer.

Geoff sang Golden Brown (Hugh Cornwell, Jean-Jacques Burnel, Dave Greenfield, Jet Black) and Mike found a good match for the title with Shallow Brown (Roud 2621).

It fell to Geoff to finish off the evening with Roger Whittaker's The Last Farewell.

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