Hazel was our MC for the evening and what a breath of fresh air she was. She rang the bell and had everyone’s attention as she told us all where the Fire
Exits were. She offered to ring the bell and have us follow her if we didn’t understand! We were also warned about the wet paint, and she gave the usual announcements.
Adrian was asked to start the night. He chose a number by American Folk singer- song writer, Tom Paxton, called ‘I Can’t Help But Wonder Where I’m Bound’. This song was on Tom’s Ramblin’ Boy debut album, and released in 1964.
Adrian was then joined by Mike and they sang ‘St Olav’s Gate’ This song was written about a hotel in Mauritz Hansen’s gate 3, Trondheim, Norway. It was made famous by Nanci Griffith. the words start off saying “Drinking black market vodka in the back of the Scotsman’s saloon”. Well we were delighted to be drinking our chosen drinks at the Eyre Court Hotel, and listing to the song. Tom Russell also sang this song.
Mike went on to say that the next song used to be called ‘Four And Twenty’ (Not Blackbirds), but he had changed the title. The reason was that he felt he was not 24 anymore. So he called it ‘3 Score And More’. He wasn’t saying how much more! The song was written by Freddy Neil and sung by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. The song is about a man and his life on earth. In the end he wishes his life would simply cease. With that, the song was abruptly ceased!
Andrew and June were next. They started with a medley on accordion and keyboard. Three tunes called ‘Hubbub’, written by Bryon Bonnett, ‘March Of St Timothy’ written by Judy Morningstar, and ‘Trimbach Threesome’ written in 1742. Then they sang the song ‘Two Lovely Black Eyes’ This song is generally thought of as a ‘domestic abuse’ song. In reality it is s political story. It happened in Bethnal Green when a young man made the mistake of praising the wrong political party to the wrong people. He was the one who ended up with two lovely black eyes. Shame.
Steve stood up with his Bb Baritone Concertina. The most popular figure in British balladry may be Robin Hood. However the most popular historical figure is not an Englishman. It is Napoleon. Originally published in January 1999, the song, ‘Isle Of Saint Helena’ was sung by Steve. This song shows up under many titles (e.g. Napoleon Bonaparte, Lonely Louisa, Boney on the Isle of Saint Helena, Boney’s Defeat), and so may be difficult to identify. It is a song about Napoleon’s death and his second wife Louisa, who bore him his only legitimate son. He then sang a very funny song called ‘Mucking About The Garden’. This was about Uncle Joe who loved nothing better that to muck around in his garden. When he married his love Mary Brown, she was surprised that the honeymoon ended up in his beloved garden with him spending all his time mucking about. But when all was said and done they were a happy family.
Harry the Hat was called upon next. He had taken his hat off as he said it was so hot! Hazel nearly missed him out, but he grabbed his hat just in time. He stood up to show us his valentine outfit but said he had no Valentine. Oh so sad!!! He has his guitar!!! Harry loves his Gospel Blues songs. ‘Nobody’s Fault But Mine’ is a traditional song first recorded by Gospel Blues artist Blind Willie Johnson in 1927. It is a solo performance with Johnson singing and playing slide guitar. The song tells of a spiritual struggle, with reading the Bible as the path to salvation, or, rather, the failure to read it leading to damnation! Harry did him justice with his singing and playing his slide guitar. He then sang ‘Bye And Bye’. It is also a Gospel song with the lyrics “I’m gonna see the King” Thank you Harry.
Louise, who comes from Newton Abbott, sang a song that she picked up while visiting another Folk Club. She called this ‘Long Live The Green Man’. I hope I have the title correct as I could not find anything on this song. I would be pleased if Louise or someone could let me know more. Then she sang ‘Back Amongst The Mermaids’. A very touching song about a sailor who keeps leaving his love to go back to sea among the mermaids. He then finds his love has found someone who can be at home more and the poor sailor has to go back amongst the mermaids again. Louise sang these songs unaccompanied. Very talented.
Kevin stood up with his six string Dulcimer. This dulcimer is one of only two in the UK. It is called a ‘Bass Walk About’ and was specially made in the US. Kevin’s brother owns the other one. He started off with ‘Old Ports Of Call’. The words and music are by Bob Watson. It is the reminiscing of an old sailor, and all the places he visited. The first line of the chorus names a few of the places this sailor went to. “Old ports of call, so many I remember, Antwerp & Ipswich, Rotterdam & Roscoff”. Next came the song ‘No More To See’ by Nantucket. We so enjoyed having you and Louise here and hope you will come again.
We were very pleased that Rob was back in Devon. Rob comes from Kent but comes to Devon a few times a month to do business. With his trusty guitar he started off singing ‘The Blackest Crow’. It is quite a sad song. Then he did a real sing-a-long song by Simon and Garfunkell called ‘The Sound Of Silence’. The song was written by Paul Simon over a period of several months in 1963 and 1964. A studio audition led to the duo signing a record deal with Columbia Records, and the song was recorded in March 1964 at Columbia Studios in New York City for inclusion on their debut album, ‘Wednesday Morning, 3am’.
Then our MC, Hazel sang ‘Brother Can You Spare Me A Dime’. In the song a beggar talks back to the system that stole his job. Composer, Jay Gorney said in an interview in 1974, “I didn’t want a song to depress people. I wanted to write a song to make people think. It isn’t a hand-me-out song of ‘give
me a dime, I’m starving, I’m bitter’, it wasn’t that kind of sentimentality”. The song asks why the men who built the nation – built the railroads, built the skyscrapers – who fought in the war, who tilled the earth, who did what their nation asked of them should, now that the work is done and their labor no longer necessary, find themselves abandoned and on the bread line. Asking for an act of charity, the singer requests a dime (equivalent to $1.43 in 2016). Next she sang ‘Dream Of The Drowned Submariner’ This is a very sad song which sometimes ends with Hazel in tears. Get out the tissues guys.
Time for a 10 minute break. Drinks, toilet and talking.
Hazel told us of the Bridport Folk Festival fundraiser concert that will be held on Thursday the 16th March at 7:30. For more information please speak to Hazel or pick up one of the flyers at Jurassic Folk & Jam.
Adrian started up the second half with another Tom Paxton number called ‘Hold Onto me Babe’ Gerry says shes holding on!!
Mike sang ‘Save The Last Dance For Me’ We all waited to find out who he was singing to, but we didn’t find out.
Andrew and June sang a song called ‘Black Jack Davey’. Andrew told about Arkansas Red and Almeida Riddle, who have versions on YouTube. June described an elderly neighbour who was called Jack Davey. Andrew and June used to go round to his house and they would have a lovely sing song with him.
Steve sang ‘Fiddlers Green’ and asked us to lock him up in his oilskins and jumper.We couldn’t find the key to lock him up! Well done Steve.
Harry with his hat, said that even though he was a man he was going to multi task. He had his slide guitar and his mouth organ and did ‘ The Newport Waltz’ the Cajun lyrics, from the Balfa Brothers.
Louise did a Swedish lament song called ‘Who Can Sail Without Wind?’ She also asked ‘who could row without oars?’
Kevin sang ‘I’ll Be Home For The Rushbearing’. He explained that Rushbearing is an old English ecclesiastical festival in which rushes are collected and carried to be strewn on the floor of the parish church. The tradition dates back to the time when most buildings had earthen floors and rushes were used as a form of renewable floor covering for cleanliness and insulation. Very interesting.
Rob then did a Sandy Denny number called ‘Rising For The Moon’. Thank you for that Rob.
Then we were fortunate that Anion borrowed Hazel’s guitar and sang ‘Funny Little Places’ She had just got back from Germany and was feeling tired. She was brilliantly accompanied by Harry on his slide guitar.
Hazel sang a favourite called ‘Birth Of The Blues’. We will miss Hazel as she will be away with her son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren till the end of July. Hope all goes well and we will see you in September when you come back as a Granny of three.
Anita finished off the evening with another sing-a-long song called ‘Molly Malone’.
Big thanks as always to all who came, and to those that helped with various tasks. We will see you all again on the 1st March. Please remember that if you want a good meal before the night starts, or any other time, the Eyre Court Hotel does good food.