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, 16 April 2017

Deaths, Resurrections and a Rising

Photo: Jarosław Pocztarski
This week’s session was rather curtailed, not by the small number present, but because of the discovery by the landlord of an ancient piece of pub lore which apparently reads:
If it be Good Friday, then
We shut at half-past bloody ten!
So with the pressure of attempting a record number of songs in a night taken from our shoulders, and without the Regular Scribe to produce definitive answers from the Internet, the conversation was able to range wide – as wide in fact as from Fred Jordan’s opinion of George Stubbs to discrepancies between the Bible and the Dead Sea Scrolls as to the number of apostles.

One of these conversations (on the decline of pubs) led to Derek beginning his contribution with Johnny Handle’s The Old Pubs; but generally the first few rounds were heavily centred on Easter, including Green Blade Rising (John Macleod Campbell Crum)The Easter Tree (Dave Goulder), Guthrie’s rewrite of Jesse James in Jesus Christ Was a Man and the spiritual Were You There When They Crucified My Lord? all from Colin, Derek’s translation and setting of the 13th century Judas (Roud 3964, Child 23), a Pace Egging song (Roud 614) from Burscough, Lancashire (Mike) and a matching pair of bookends with Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day (Derek - Roud 21931) and Sydney Carter’s Lord of the Dance (Roger). Probably inadvertently, but certainly effectively, Roger pre-empted Derek’s intended singing of the Easter version of The Mermaid (Roud 124, Child 289) with his performance of a non-Easter version [Ed: here's the Easter version].

With the permission of the Easter Bunny the topic widened slightly to include the Easter Rising in Dublin  (Charles O’Neill’s Foggy Dew and Cumann Na mBan - NOT the O’Higgins one - both Derek) and any song involving resurrection, e.g. Trevor Crozier’s Dead Dog CiderStan Rogers’ Mary Ellen Carter (both Mike) and Finnegan’s Wake (Derek - Roud 1009).

The most original contribution of the night came from Roger who sang a song called Watch Out from a (short-lived) operetta by Tim Gardom and Sean Jennings on the life of John Cabot, in which he and Chris had taken part. This contained a long list of maritime superstitions, all of which received the Starkey Seal of Sailoring Approval except for:
A silver coin beneath the mast
Will save you from the stormy blast.
Apparently the coin must be on top of the mast where it was believed it would act as a lightning conductor.

Easterless relief was provided throughout the evening by Chris with a fine selection of songs including William Barnes’ Linden Lea [Ed: music Ralph Vaughan Williams], an English version of Dafydd y Garreg Wen (David Owen, John Ceirgiog Hughes), Walter Maynard/Wil Hopcyn’s Idle Days [Ed: Bugeilio'r Gwenith Gwyn - on reflection I've always previously found the wrong English version] and The Whistling Gypsy – better known to its friends as Johnny Faa (Roud 1, Child 200).

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

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

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

A bit of fun

Last week's session had not a bad turn-out despite the absence of some regulars. We had three second-time visitors: John O and Chris O were once again in the area for a weekend's caravanning, which is to be encouraged (they previously visited in August 2016), and John B2 (to differentiate from our regular but absent John B) once again came with Phil (he last visited in October 2016). There was no official theme.

Colin was MC and started off with Richard Digance's What's The Use Of Anything.

Our fourth visitor of the evening, Richard, was known to Colin but was, as far as I am aware, a Dragon virgin. He was surprised to be called on so early, thinking that we might pass the baton around the room, whereas, subject to the MC's discretion, we usually take turns by order of arrival. Nevertheless, he gathered himself together and sang Sydney Carter's Lord Of The Dance.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

The Four Rogers

It was a very satisfactory turn-out last week when we were joined by Rose and by Keith G, neither of whom had been to the Dragon Folk Club very recently.

With no theme and Colin in charge, he started us off himself by singing No Hopers, Jokers and Rogues (Rupert Christie).

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

The Famous Five

Dawn, South Maple Street, photo: Keith Carver
The ‘thirteenth’ alternative scribe arrived at the Bridge Inn at the same time as Colin, our regular MC, so organisationally we were looking good. Just after 8.15 pm Derek arrived and boosted the number of attendees by 50%.

Derek brought good news, Maggie L was feeling better than she had been, and he was also able to stay for the whole evening. He could not, however, be persuaded to exercise his status as first alternative scribe and gleefully declined my invitation. Colin announced there was no theme and Derek declared that he had a whole ream of Irish songs to still get through from the week before.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

St Patrick's Day - 2017

Chicago River dyed green for St Patrick's Day 2015
Photo by Scott M Liebenson
No excuses this time, our session really was on St Patrick's Day and most of us managed at least some Irish songs though I'm not sure we answered Gary's challenge from the week before to name some decent Irish song writers from the last 50 (was it?) years.

With the absence of several regulars it was good to be joined by Steve G, who drops in occasionally, and Paul, who is a rare sight since his move to the wilds of Somerset.

Colin as MC put himself on first and sang Galway Farmer (Steve Knightley), an appropriate celebration of the Cheltenham Festival which usually coincides with St Patrick's Day and is therefore a honeypot for Irish owners, riders and punters.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Bits and Bobs

The Richard Oastler pub, a former chapel, in Brighouse
mentioned in the first song of the evening
Last week's Dragon Folk Club session had no theme so the songs reasonably ranged widely. It was good to see John P come along for his second dose of the club - we obviously didn't frighten him too much the previous week, and it was good to see Gary for the first time in a while.

Colin was the MC and he started us off, before Gary's arrival, with a song from his repertoire as well as that of the late Alan Mitchell: Brighouse On A Saturday Night (Roger Davies).

Geoff won't be with us for the St Patrick's Day session this Friday (take a note for your diary), so he took Ireland as his personal theme for the night, his first being The Patriot Game (Dominic Behan). John P was also in Irish mode with Star Of The County Down (Cathal McGarvey).

Thursday, 9 March 2017

St David's Day 2017

Depiction of the Rebecca Riots,
Illustrated London News 1843
It was good to see a new face at last week's session. Geoff brought John P along - this sort of behaviour is to be encouraged. While John had never sung at a folk club before he certainly came prepared with Welsh songs to fit our theme, and had a selection of other material once he had run out. Well done John, we look forward to seeing you again very soon.

If you're considering coming to the Dragon Folk Club for the first time, don't think we expect you to come prepared like John with lots of material; of course that would be great but by all means come along to suss us out before attempting to sing or play on a subsequent visit, or indeed come along even if you have no intention of ever performing. We're a pretty friendly bunch and welcome singers and musicians of any standard or none!