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 New Inn, Westerleigh, Bristol. Everyone is welcome whether you sing, play or just listen.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Tinkers, Bosses and Black Cloth

The Koh-i-Noor diamond before it was re-cut in 1852
It was another great session last week with visitors and irregulars joining us for the evening. Before I go any further I must remember to say, there will be no Dragon Folk Club this Friday (26 August 2016) but we will be back on the following Friday (2 September 2016), so I hope you can come and join in the fun.

Our recent stream of visitors or hopefully first-timers continued with Rod who sang some fine traditional songs. Steve G made his first appearance for a little while, and was later joined by Jo and her husband, Mel. Mel told me they only planned to stay for an hour but enjoyed it so much they stayed for the rest of the evening. We were also joined by Henry, who hasn't been to a Dragon session for quite some time, and he was joined by first-timer Mary.

Colin was MC and Derek was first to sing. He announced he would be following a Fred Jordan theme. His first from Fred's repertoire was The Horn Of The Hunter (Roud 1859, Jackson Gillbanks). Jackson Gillbanks was a contemporary of John Peel about whom he said: "except on great days he followed the old style of hunting—that is, turning out before daylight, often at 5 or 6 o'clock, and hunting his fox by the drag...". Mike carried on the hunting theme with Me Brave Boys.

What I haven't yet explained is that our ranks, and therefore the total recorded at the end of this report, were initially swelled by three ladies who didn't know what they'd let themselves in for by sitting in "our" bar on a Friday night. I am sure they could have had a great evening if they'd got into the spirit of proceedings but instead they gave up and left at the end of the first song - brownie points on this occasion go to Derek!

Steve G's first song was John Smith's Salty and Sweet and that was followed by visitor Rod with Bonny Woodhall (Roud 3778).

It is to be hoped that the time has passed for Colin's first offering, Pete Seeger's Song Of The World's Last Whale.

Simon, obviously feeling bold, said he doesn't usually sing his first song of this session at the beginning of the evening, nor in front of visitors, it being the bawdy and definitely non-PC mento song, Big Bamboo.

Derek's second Fred Jordan song was The Volunteer Organist (William B Gray, George Spaulding).

Continuing his string of traditional songs, our visitor Rod sang The Reaping Of The Rushes Green (Roud 3380).

Jo's arrival was supposed to see her singing and playing with Steve G but Steve needed time to tune his banjo - having recently ended years of telling banjo jokes and moving to the dark side. That left Jo on her own to sing John Prine's Souvenirs.

Derek came back with another Fred Jordan song, Outlandish Knight (Roud 21, Child 4).

Mike introduced a mini-theme of tinkers with Nancy Myles which Derek followed on the next trip round the room with The Reed Cutter's Daughter (Roud 5397).

Another min-theme was introduced by Steve G singing Bruce Springsteen's Dry Lightning, which was later followed by Simon singing Factory, another song from "The Boss", though actually obtained from the singing of Mike Harding.

Rod's next song was Tyne Of Harrow (Roud 2403). Here's an unusual recording found to match Colin's song, Dick Darby The Cobbler (Roud 872), it apparently being sung unaccompanied by multi-instrumentalist and member of The Monkees, Peter Tork.

Henry was keen to sing his own humourous song, Where'd I Put The Diamond, based on the story of one of his ancestors who we are told lost the Koh-i-Noor diamond. According to Wikipedia "Lord Ellenborough, the Governor-General of India received the Koh-i-Noor in the presence of the members of the Board of Administration for the affairs of the Punjab: Sir Henry Lawrence (President), CG Mansel, John Lawrence and Sir Henry Elliot (Secretary to the Government of India). Legend in the Lawrence family has it that before the voyage, John Lawrence left the jewel in his waistcoat pocket when it was sent to be laundered, and was most grateful when it was returned promptly by the valet who found it.".

Finally we heard Jo and Steve perform together with Wagon Wheel (Bob Dylan, Ketch Secor). Apparently the chorus and the melody come from a demo recorded by Dylan but it was Secor, who is a member of The Old Crow Medicine Show, who wrote verses for it, with Dylan's permission.

The last song of the evening from our very welcome visitor, Rod was I Drew My Ship (Roud 402).

It was then Mary's turn to give us two of her own songs, accompanied by Henry on the guitar while she played the mandolin. Her first was inspired by the ghost said to haunt a house in Kent: Stella The Fair And Marble-Hearted. The second goes by the title of Lips As Soft As Butter.

Derek's final song of the evening, again self-penned was The Man Who Wrote The Songs, which provides a tongue in cheek suggestion that some of the songs collected by Cecil Sharp may not be all that they seem.

I think we may have finished the evening with another of those min-themes when Jo and Steve G gave us Long Black Veil (Danny Dill, Marijohn Wilkin) which Colin followed with the last song of the evening, Black Velvet Band (Roud 2146).

And on that sing-a-long note, please remember there is no Dragon Folk Club session on 26 August 2016 but the following week - 2 September, we are back, so be there if you can because I won't be (sorry) but your every move will be recorded, no doubt with great wit, by our deputy scribe.

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

(Number of people present - 14, of whom 8 performed)

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Manchester or Essex?

Manchester Town Hall
We've been doing really well for visitors recently and last week wasn't an exception being joined by Linda and Dave, who live in Essex but are originally from Manchester and these two locations were taken by some people as a theme for the evening. They visit the area quite frequently so we hope to see them again. Dave, who sings in a barbershop choir as well as at folk clubs, sang us some songs. Linda on the other hand saved herself for a return visit, choosing instead to just weigh us up on this occasion - I don't blame her.

Colin, back from his recent trip, was MC and Derek started off the session with Jamie Douglas (Roud 87, Child 204). He almost gave up singing this song, realising it isn't too long since we had it from him but when Chris said how much she liked it he relented and carried on.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Follow the caravan to Rio

Last weeks session was again well attended and this time everyone was a performer.

We were pleased to welcome newcomers Chris and John, on a weekend away from their West Midlands home with their caravan. Rose and Jonjo also returned this week.

In Colin's absence, Richard had the MCs book for the evening and he put himself on first with The Constant Lovers (Roud 993, Laws O41).

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Groundhog Day?

Photo by Gary Yankech
I was pleased to see some people at The New Inn last week who seemed to have turned up intentionally for the session even though they had no intention of performing. Don't get me wrong, it would have been great if they had been prepared to perform but the fact they were there and said they had enjoyed themselves was excellent.

Colin was MC and Derek, who was first to sing, immediately set a challenge for me, the scribe. He started what because a theme - singing songs which were sung the previous week but in different versions.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Crowd Dispersal

Last week's session was again well attended with a welcome return for Rose, who also brought along a newcomer to the club, Jonjo.

Colin was MC and Derek started the evening off with Red Roses For Me (Sean O'Casey). Mike followed this with Wave Over Wave (Jim Payne, Janis Spence).

Tony brought us one of his Welsh tunes which this time was Tafarn Y Wheatsheaf (The Wheatsheaf Pub) and Hilary followed that with Try To Remember (Tom Jones, Harvey Schmidt).

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Louder than usual

The knocker-upper man
Last weeks session was slightly unusual for us in that our venue at The New Inn was somewhat taken over by people who would usually be at The Old Inn (the pubs have really original names in Westerleigh) which was closed for refurbishment. While they were fairly loud at times they were at least reasonably appreciative of our efforts in the main and in any case they had dwindled to a memory by the break.

Colin was naturally Mc and for a change kicked off the singing himself with General Guinness, which seems as good a place as any to start even if he wasn't actually drinking the black stuff.

I think there was some skulduggery going on, maybe trying to test the resolve of the non-folkies in the bar when Derek sang Molly Bawn (Roud 166, Laws O36) and Mike sang Haul On The Bowline (Roud 652).

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Spinning a yarn

(Photo by Hans Splinter)
Last week's session saw the return of Richard and Lesley after their travels and a rare, in recent times, appearance of Gary, who I believe has been busy travelling and performing at festivals over the last few months.

Colin also returned from his break and fell back into his usual role of MC. Derek was the first to sing with Lord Bateman (Roud 40, Child 53). It proved unusually problematic for him since he started off with his usual tune but it morphed half-way into another, equally valid tune for the song.