|Beacon at Seaton Carew, Hartlepool|
First an announcement... the Harvest session will be on 8 September. Not only does that mean a harvest theme to as many songs and tunes as possible but also a special raffle. Please bring produce which can be offered as prizes and pockets full of change for the raffle and any random collections that may take place. Proceeds this year will go to Shelter, a charity that Dragon regular, Roger has previously supported with his own musical evenings.
Colin was MC and started off the proceedings with Bruton Town (Roud 18, Laws M32).
Derek had a number of anniversaries to cover, the first, having taken place on 26 August, was The Donibristle Disaster (Roud 3509) of 1901 which led him also to sing his own song, They Don't Sing Me Any More, the third verse of which is about the previous song.
Simon started off a set of songs about weavers which included Nancy Whisky (Roud 883), The Handweaver And The Factory Maid (Roud 17771), Poverty Knock (Roud 3491, probably written by Tom Daniel) - with accompaniment by Derek on the bones, The Wark O' The Weavers (David Shaw), The Good Old Colony Times (Roud 130). Simon would have added The Tailor's Breeches (Roud 1610) but he wasn't sure he could find the tune. Derek however, inspired by a comment from Simon, sang a waulking song, which I believe was A Bhean As Thall A Rinn An Gaire (Woman over there who laughed). I was unable to find a linkable recording of that song but it seems to have some lyrical similarities to Bratach Bana (White Banner).
Mike's first song was Claudy Banks (Roud 266).
I don't remember exactly how it started but we had a discussion about songs not coming from where people think. Simon told of a website of supposedly Irish songs which includes many songs obviously from other locations. Mike added that there is a set of books of supposedly Irish songs which similarly includes songs which don't strictly qualify. Of the examples given, Danny Boy (English - by Frederic Weatherly of Portishead) is a good, if somewhat understandable example but Fiddler's Green (English - by John Conolly of Grimsby) is surely unforgivable!
The Lincolnshire Poacher, sung the previous week by John P, was also mentioned in this context since it has been collected with various counties in the title. Simon pointed out that in The New Penguin Book Of English Folk Songs, section 138 is entitled "The Lincolnshire Poacher" but the lyric given starts "I was born a labourer in famous Gloucestershire...". The Lincolnshire Poacher was a favourite of King George IV (1820-1830) who often had it sung for his amusement by a band of Berkshire ploughmen. He also commanded it to be sung at his harvest-homes to the "playhouse tune". It is also thought that the tune to "The Manchester Angel" may have been the original used for the song.
Another discussion started with Derek telling a story of Hartlepool which had one of a string of beacons to warn London of an impendign invasion. The town was supposed to light its beacon when an invading ship was seen. Unfortunately the Hartlepool people would often set light to their beacon needlessly. London became fed up of this and so a message was sent northwards prohibiting the "firing any beacon in future". Unfortunately the chief magistrate misread it as "frying any bacon in future" so all frying pans and gridirons in the town were confiscated and put in St Hilda's church. Mike said this was better than the Hartlepool monkey story and that Derek should write a song about it. Simon though pointed out that Derek had been beaten to it by The Young'uns - No More Frying Bacon.
Having taken all this time to describe our conversations, I'm only left with time to say that the last song of the evening came from Derek and was a shanty which starts "I wish I had ten thousand pounds" and with a chorus including "heave away, haul away". If this description sounds familiar, I first wrote it at about the same time two years ago, and I still haven't managed to trace any more information about the song.
Here's a selection of songs sung during this session.
(Number of people present - 4, of whom 4 performed)