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 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.

Your presence and support at our Harvest session would be very welcome.

Back to last week, Colin was our MC and he started off the singing with Here Come The Navvies (Ian Campbell).

Derek decided to mark three August anniversaries. The first was The Dublin Lockout which started on 26 August 1913, and was represented by the Ballad Of Larkin (Donagh McDonagh) and Who Fears To Wear The Blood Red Badge (Andrew Patrick Wilson). Derek's second anniversary was the Donibristle disaster of 26 August 1901 marked with the Donibristle Mine Disaster (Roud 3509).

His final anniversary was of the Spanish Civil War and the International Brigades. He explained that twice previously he had thought he would no longer sing The Valley Of Jarama (Alex McDade, Roud 10517). The first time was when the last known combatant died, the second when the last known member died, but now he told of a story that emerged last year during the Catalan Regional Elections. 98-year-old Geoffrey Servante, a former mechanic in the merchant navy who enlisted with the International Brigades in June 1937, turned out to be living in the Forest of Dean having taken up in 2011 the Spanish government’s offer to grant Spanish citizenship to surviving veterans of the International Brigades. The International Brigades Memorial Trust had assumed him to be dead. Servante had used his Spanish nationality to register to vote in the Catalonian elections: a sign that he still takes an interest in Spanish affairs.

Derek also went on to sing Hans Beimler Kommissar, presented in the video in Ernst Busch's original German version (Derek sang in English).

Simon's first song of the evening was Dave Sudbury's pigeon tale, King Of Rome. Only today (Wednesday) as I write this has an appropriate follow-up come to light with the story in the news of two Chinese pigeon fanciers who cheated by hiding their birds in milk cartons and transporting them home to "win" the race.

Mike sang the railroad song turned sea shanty, He Back, She Back (Roud 930). The "old moke" of the chorus comes from an English or Romany word meaning donkey, but was used in America as a typically pejorative word for a black slave. This goes to show that we don't shy away from uncomfortable histories but choose to remember them, however controversial. Nevertheless, "life is never that simple and those who are familiar with sheet music and line-drawing adverts for black minstrel troupes will be familiar with drawings of the troupe sitting in an arc on stage with an actual donkey playing banjo at the end of the line".

Mike has never been able to find which boat is the subject of his song Albertina (translation by J Glyn Davies of the Norwegian shanty Skonnert Albertina) or where in the Baltic she was built. He said one vessel of that name sank on her maiden voyage and another ended up in the Caribbean, but neither seemed to have been to Germany.

Simon finished off the evening with When All Men Sing (Keith ScowcroftDerek Gifford)

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

(Number of people present - 4, of whom 4 performed)

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