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.

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.

Geoff and John P both marked recent deaths. Geoff was thinking of Professor Stephen Hawking with John D Loudermilk's He's Just A Scientist (That's All). John P recalled Ken Dodd with Think of Me (Wherever You Are), a translation credited to "Blackburn" of On Ne Dit Jamais La Vérité, written by Pascal SevranPascal Auriat and Serge Lebrail, and performed by Pascal Auriat in the selection process for the French Eurovision song of 1975.

Apart from these notable exceptions, I think everything performed during the evening had some sort of Irish connection.ranging from the humourous such as Mike's Ancient And Old Irish Condom (sorry, the video may not play for that one) through the punk anarchy of The Pogues, offered to us by John P, for example in Sally MacLennane (Shane MacGowan) to the sweetness of songs such as Mike's Nancy Myles (Kevin Sheerin).

When Derek sang The Aldergrove Plane, he said it wasn't really in his repertoire. I said he had sung at the Dragon Folk Club before, and I can now confirm that was at the St Patrick's Day session in 2013.

The evening was brought to a close by Simon, singing Down By The Sally Gardens (WB Yeats). Yeats indicated in a note that it was "an attempt to reconstruct an old song from three lines imperfectly remembered by an old peasant woman in the village of Ballisodare, Sligo, who often sings them to herself." The "old song" may have been the ballad The Rambling Boys of Pleasure.

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

(Number of people present - 6, of whom 6 performed)

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.