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 June 2017

White Acres

Roger Whittaker (Photo Wilfried Wittkow)
Summer is a time when people head to the hills and beaches or wherever, so we might expect some of our regulars to miss a few weeks but we are here waiting every Friday to welcome all our folky friends, even those we have yet to meet, who are gravitating in the direction of the South West of England, whether they're staying in the Bristol area or just passing through. Please come and swell our ranks, even if it only for one session. Perhaps you'll like us enough to drop in another time when you're down our way, others have.

Colin was MC and started the session of by referring to a new fast food outlet being built in Fishponds, and sang a song he had "collected" from Maggie S: McDonald's Kitchen (Seamus Kennedy).

Geoff sang Tom Paxton's The Marvelous Toy, which Simon recalled a young Isla St Clair had sung to an audience of troops who had found it very funny - we're too innocent to understand why ;-)

Before taking up his own June theme, Derek gave us a seasonal Corpus Christi Carol (Roud 1523). I don't know the exact provenance but it seemed to have many of the features of this Scottish version but the chorus of this American one framed as a Christmas Carol and collected by John Jacob Niles.

Simon sang Peggy Gordon (Roud 2280) and Mike Fathomed The Bowl (Roud 880).

And so we were back round to Colin who sang The Durham Lockout (Tommy Armstrong). Simon later returned to that city with Roger Whittaker's Durham Town (The Leavin').

Derek pointed out, as Keith G had done on a previous occasion, that it is the river Wear, not the Tyne that flows through Durham. Simon admitted that whatever source it was he had used to obtain the words had changed it to "river side" but he returned it to the original even though it was inaccurate. Whittaker's original intent, to set the song in Newcastle, had been abandoned in favour of nearby Durham because Whittaker agreed with his producer that "Durham" simply sounded better. While focusing the song on Newcastle, Whittaker had set its second verse "on the banks of the river Tyne", and as Whittaker had little or no familiarity with his chosen locale for the song he retained the verse with its Tyneside setting for the song's final version set in Durham. In fact the Tyne flows eastwards through Newcastle but it is the Wear, 20 miles to the south, which flows through Durham.

This wasn't even the last mention in the evening we had of Roger Whittaker, because Geoff performed The Last Farewell. Whittaker hosted a radio programme in 1971, backed by a full orchestra with arrangements by Zack Lawrence. Whittaker is quoted as saying that "one of the ideas I had was to invite listeners to send their poems or lyrics to me and I would make songs out of them. We got a million replies, and I did one each week for 26 weeks". Ron A Webster, a silversmith from Birmingham, England, sent Whittaker his poem entitled "The Last Farewell", and this became one of the selections to appear on the radio programme. It was subsequently recorded and featured on Whittaker's 1971 album New World in the Morning.

Another person touched on with a similar name was John Whitaker, who wrote the music for Colin's song, Darby Kelly (Roud 21859, Thomas Dibdin). If you want to check out Strawhead's story (see the previous video link) about Status Quo, you need to listen to the song Burning Bridges.

Another maybe unexpected link was between Geoff's singing of Roger Miller's King Of The Road and Colin's Me And Bobby McGee, usually associated, by me at least, with Kris Kristofferson who wrote it with Fred Foster but which was in fact originally performed by the same Roger Miller.

Simon pointed out that Derek's first two June-themed songs had another connection, both mentioning, in Derek's versions at least, clipper ships: The Three O'Donnells and Spancil Hill (Roud 22062). And while I'm writing of June songs sung by Derek, I even managed to find a recording of Jug Of Punch (Roud 1808) with a chorus very similar or even maybe the same as he sings it.

As the evening drew to a close Simon sang the topical but oft forbidden Summertime (George Gershwin) and Colin sent us off singing along to The Rosabella (Roud 13252).

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

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

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Beginning with an end

Humpback Whale
This week's report will be abbreviated and at least initially won't include links to YouTube. This is because I am writing this from a hotel room in Athens. No, I'm not on holiday, and not even on an exotic song-collection trip - it's all to do with my day job I'm afraid. But after a nice and impressively cheap meal I am set up to write some sort of report of last Friday's session, and I will be at the next session on Friday if KLM can get me back in time.

Some present may wonder how I counted 5 present. No the fifth wasn't the club hound, Indy, but the former landlady of The Bridge Inn, who joined us as audience for a few songs - sorry I don't remember her name, I hope she will forgive me. Someone didn't even recognise her - no names there either! ;-)

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Election Fever

Photo by Rama
It may appear since we had six at the previous week's session and the same number at this one that we have a very limited pool of talent to draw on (I use "talent" loosely, but what the heck?). "Not at all", I say, because we had replaced a whole 50% of those present last week this time with regular Mike (and his possibly faithful hound, Indy), semi-regular Steve G, and very welcome occasional visitor from as far afield as Swindon, Rose.

There was no official theme but there were some interesting threads that emerged through the evening.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

A random selection - almost

Pecker Dunne
Another themeless session last week which I think remained pretty much that way, no major themes emerging through the evening. Tom was a very welcome visitor, ahead of his spotlight set at Chipping Sodbury Folk Night on 1 June.

As usual, Colin was MC, and as often happens he started off the evening, this time with George Papavgeris' As Long As Someone Sings A Song.

Derek continued his ongoing May theme well into the evening, starting with The Verdant Braes Of Skreen (Roud 419).

Geoff challenged me to find the version he sang of his first song. Derek suggested looking up Elizabeth Cronin but I'm afraid I failed, so here is Séamus Ennis' version of As I Roved Out which seems similar enough. Apparently Ennis recorded Cronin's singing, so perhaps this isn't such a surprise.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

The punk tradition - for a change

The boy from county hell
(painting by Brian Whelan,
subject Shane MacGowan)
While we were short on numbers last week, we were not short on enthusiasm and at least one person said at the end of the evening how good it had been.

Colin was MC and started off with a song he seemed to have only come across recently but at least two of us sang along with him, so perhaps he was the only one who didn't know it? The song in question was the Lyke Wake Dirge (Roud 8194). While Colin cited the Pentangle version, Mike mentioned the version by The Young Tradition (linked here). Mike also proudly stated that he has done the Lyke Wake Walk.

We had a couple of notable, themes. The first of themes, started by Geoff, was a fairly conventional one for a folk club, being the songs of Bob Dylan. Geoff sang Just Like A Woman and John P followed up immediately with Bob Dylan's Dream. The latter being noted as taking the tune of Lady Franklin's Lament (sung a couple of weeks before by Simon). According to Mike, Dylan foolishly tried to sue someone for singing the original, traditional song to "his" tune. Much later in the evening John P sang Percy's Song (Bob Dylan).

Mike harked back just a few days to 14 May with The Bonny Black Hare (Roud 1656) while Simon sang of The Galway Shawl (Roud 2737).

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Striding through May

St Constantine's Church, Constantine, Cornwall
(Photo: Vernon White)
While we didn't quite hit the heady heights of the previous week's attendance, eight didn't seem too bad last week. There was no official theme though some people were carrying through the May theme from previous weeks.

Colin was MC and generously put himself on first. He broke the ice with Steve Knightley's Man In Green to mark the previous weekend's Jack in the Green procession in Bristol.

Derek fulfilled the promise I made in the previous blog report, that he would sing a version of the song Hal an Tow (Roud 1520), used on Helston, Cornwall's May Flora Day, but this time the one used in neighbouring Constantine (sorry I couldn't find a recording of Constantine).

Thursday, 11 May 2017

New Faces for May

Photo: Nikki T
I often say how great a session was in the report and I always mean it but last week was rather special. At the beginning of the evening we assembled as seven regulars, which would have been quite respectable but then a trickle of people started to file into our room, finally making up seven members of the Island Folk Choir. We were very pleased that as well as sharing some of their group singing, several members performed solo and in small groups.

As usual, Colin was MC and he started off the evening and the theme of "May" by singing Pleasant Month Of May (Roud 153); all of Colin's songs of the evening had May connections, however tenuous.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

The Seven Seas

Kaskelot in Bristol (Photo: Simon Meeds)
Last week's session got off to a slow start. Parking was unusually busy outside The Bridge Inn, so I wasn't early but was only the third to arrive. We had a pleasant chat and I think were about to decide whether to stay or go when Steve C arrived just on cue. At a grand total of four we were quorate and after some more procrastination we got the evening going.

Colin was MC and he started us off with So Long It's Been Good To Know You (Woody Guthrie, Roud 15161). With no theme we didn't really know what was coming next and despite being small in number we managed to come up with quite an eclectic mix of music for the evening. Some songs were intentionally aimed at a May theme and others accidentally hit that spot. Nevertheless, our official May themed session will be this week (Friday 5 May).

Friday, 28 April 2017

St George's Day 2017

Raphael - Saint George and the Dragon, 1506
It was good to see Maggie S at last week's session, and we were joined by two very welcome visitors from Yorkshire who didn't want to sing but did want to publicise the Cleckheaton Folk Festival which takes place in June/July, so there we are, I've done it. It will also appear on our links page.

It was two days before St George's day so the theme was George, England, dragons and anything else that seemed appropriate.

Colin as MC asked Steve C to start us off which he did with Jock Stewart (Roud 975) which wasn't exactly to theme but we don't mind that.

Derek had other plans for the evening's theme but started off with a token song from Norfolk: The Bailiff's Daughter Of Islington (Roud 483, Child 105).

Colin was first to really hit the theme will full force, singing Billy Bragg's Hard Times Of Old England Retold.

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.

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!

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

The Carter's Lads and Lasses?

The Carter Family
While last week's turn-out of six at our session doesn't on first glance seem much of a triumph it wasn't bad considering that two of our regulars were off pursuing their other interests and a third was sorely missed.

As I write, it is St David's Day, and following today this Friday's Dragon Folk Club session (3 March 2016) will celebrate all that is Welsh - well, I suspect that there will songs which stretch the definition of celebration, but you get the gist.

Back to last Friday, there was no official theme and as usual Colin was MC. John kicked us off with his own composition: The Bridge Inn Blues.

I'm not quite sure what Colin's message was when he sang Please Do Not Get Offended (William B Glenroy). William B Glenroy's real name was William B Gray, and he was co-author of another song which we hear occasionally: The Volunteer Organist.

Friday, 24 February 2017

To far Amerikay and back

Vicky and Richard (Cooper and Toller)
There were 12 people at last week's Dragon Folk Club session, which is much more like it than recently. We welcomed Tony and Hillary back after a break, albeit that their visit was short and sweet. We were also pleased to see Vicky and Richard (Cooper and Toller) back for a second visit - we hope there are many more to come.

First the parish notices: this Friday (24 February) we need all the support we can muster since two of our regulars won't be around. If you haven't been to see us for a while or even have never been before, this is the time to find your way to The Bridge. Then next week (3 March) is our St David's Day special, so songs and tunes from or about Wales (or by extension usually also whales) will be very welcome though as usual the theme is optional.

Back to last week's report and Colin was MC as usual, getting Geoff to start us off. Geoff told us of an oversized hand gun which Marty Robbins found in a gunshop and sang the song which came from that occasion: Big Iron. This started a flurry of American songs.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Valentine's Day 2017 and Trimdon Grange + 135

Tommy Armstrong
The report will be short and sweet this week since I've ended up writing at the last moment. Last week's session was themed Love and Lust for Valentine's Day. While we were small in number we were strong in voice, and joined as we were by our friends Joe and Josci, who we hadn't seen for some time.

Colin was MC and started off with a version of Clementine which was sung as Valentine. I haven't found any mention of it on the web, so all I can say about it with any confidence is that the first line is "In North Walsham by the cobbler's".

As you might expect there was some smut, including Colin's Bell Bottom Trousers (Roud 20105) and Simon's Big Bamboo.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

We got the blues

Cliff Carlisle
While last week's session was theme-less, this week's on 10 February, will be our Valentine's special, so the theme will be Love and Lust. Come prepared with song, tunes and whatever other material you fancy along those lines.

Back to last week, Colin was MC and he had Geoff start us off. Geoff's contribution was the first of several blues that we had through the evening, being Winkle Picker Shoes Blues.

Our other bluesy numbers were John with the St James Infirmary Blues (attributed to Joe Primrose and after Roud 2 - The Unfortunate Rake), Phil with Railroad Bill (Roud 4181), John with Black Water Blues (Bessie Smith), Roger, accompanied by Henry, with Georgia On My Mind (Hoagy Carmichael, Stuart Gorrell) and Phil with My Rockin' Mama (Cliff Carlisle).

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Burns' Night 2017

reconstructed head of Burns
Finally a respectable quorum for this year's Burns' Night session. That is it was our Burns and Scotland themed session which took place two days after Burns' Night. In fact the attendance was so numerous that it even deserved three raffle prizes!

As always at The Dragon Folk Club, the theme was optional, so there was plenty of variety. Colin was MC and he started off proceedings with a comic offering from Captain BeakyThe Haggis Season (Jeremy Lloyd, Jim Parker).

I won't get into the debate about which songs and poems Robert Burns wrote, which he collected and which he stole, so please read anything in this blog post which claims to be by Burns as being any one of those options.

Roger recited The Banks O' Doon (Roud 13889 - Robert Burns) as a poem and Chris gave us the Eriskay Love Lilt (I grew up to that version by Judith Durham).

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Presidential Inauguration

The Mayor of Trumpton
A sadly low turn-out again for last week's session but at least we were five in the first half of the evening and there was some interesting back and forth of ad hoc themes. There was no official theme but this Wednesday is Burns' Night, so this Friday's theme (27 January) is all things Scottish or Burns - your presence is required.

The most popular mini-theme last week was the inauguration of President Trump. Some songs were thought appropriate and others were simply modified to fit. Colin was MC.

Steve C started the evening off with Old Shep (Red Foley). It was the song Elvis Presley sang at his first public performance, aged 10 on 3 October 1945 at the Mississippi-Alabama Fair and Dairy Show.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Just Harping On

Photo: Bart Hanlon
Yes, you read correctly at the bottom of this post, we were only five at last week's session, in fact we were really "four twice" as my grandmother used to say about a family that lost a child and gained a new one soon after. We really need to see some new faces, and for some of you old hands to come and join us. Yes, I know we have a reasonable number of regulars but it only takes a few to have something else on and we are down to a skeleton crew. We didn't even hold our "famous" raffle, so you can tell that things were bad.

Nevertheless we had a pretty good evening with some of us singing unusual songs around the edge of our repertoires which made for some excitement.

Colin was MC and Derek started us off by taking up his own self-imposed theme of harps. His first song on this theme was The Minstrel Boy (Thomas Moore - Roud 13867). Derek continued his theme with another from Thomas Moore, The Harp That Once Through Tara's Halls (Roud 13392), impressively remembered from childhood and apparently not sung since. Next came The Twa Sisters (Roud 8, Child 10). The Ballad Of James Larkin (Donagh McDonagh) was next and generated some interest for it's phrase "The harp was buried beneath the crown", which reminded Mike of a shanty called The Harp Without A Crown, which he said was a puzzle because, while it seems to be a true shanty, it cannot be traced to any period earlier than the very last days of sail in the early 20th century. Derek's final harp contribution was a funny story of a man who died and went to heaven and became "chocker with harpin'".

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

New Year 2017

The Bridge Inn, Shortwood; our new venue(photo: Jonathan Billinger)
Last Friday was our first session back in our new, old venue, The Bridge Inn at Shortwood (BS16 9NG). Expect us to be there every Friday night from 8:15pm unless otherwise posted on this blog and the Facebook group.

Before I get down to last week's report I was asked to mention one "parish notice". Roger and John have hired the Kingfisher Café in Fishponds on Thursday 26 January from 8pm to 9:30pm for anyone to come and sing, play, read poetry or anything within reason in aid of the CLIC Sargent charity, specifically to help the charity deal with the fire that damaged its shop at Fishponds in December. CLIC Sargent supports children and young people with cancer.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

End of an era and start of another

Last night at The New Inn Westerleigh
This report has been a long time coming since Christmas and New Year and some other commitments got in the way. It is of a session held on 16 December 2016 at The New Inn, Westerleigh. And that is an important point to start on. Our next session, on Friday 6 January 2017 will be at our new venue, The Bridge Inn, Shortwood (BS16 9NG). If you haven't been there before you can find directions and a map here. It was actually our venue from 1995 to 2014, so it is familiar to many of our regulars and visitors, who will also be aware of the excellent acoustics, so we are hoping for lots of good singing and playing at future sessions This is now our new permanent home.