Mudcat Café message #1840954 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #94776   Message #1840954
Posted By: Geoff Wallis
22-Sep-06 - 02:13 PM
Thread Name: Reflections/Criticism of Peter Kennedy
Subject: RE: Reflections/Criticism of Peter Kennedy
Both Folkiedave and Captain Birdseye seemed nonplussed by my question, so here it is again.

Folkiedave wrote:

'Then despair away Fred, for you cannot see how publishing something that is written anonymously and publishing something that is written anonymously is identical.'

This is sheer tautology and meaningless.

More relevantly, Captain Birdseye is completely off the wall when he keeps harping on about Cyril Sharp and royalty payments since the whole concept of royalties had not been invented at the time of Sharp's collecting activities.

I am completely in agreement with Jim Carroll's comments:

'The greatest damage [PK] did was to hang a price tag on the tradition and make it a commodity, thereby setting a precedent. In the process he showed disregard, verging on contempt for the people who preserved and passed on the music I care about, and that is what I find unforgivable' [and, most especially]'Don't forget the goods he was dealing in were amassed on behalf of the BBC and paid for by the licence/tax-payers money. They are all of our heritage, not one individual's.'

Some of us have been questioning PK's activities for a long time (not least Jim and Fred and a whole host of other people I might mention, but the list would be too long) and the fact that the man has died makes absolutely no difference in our consideration of his collecting activity.

I know more about the work of collectors in Ireland than other areas and the worst example of exploitation I've ever encountered involved Allen Feldman - you can read more about him at

Said site claims that he 'conducted ethnographic field research in Northern Ireland' except that's only half the story. Much of his work for the book 'The Northern Fiddler' was undertaken in County Donegal. As part of this he recorded the Glencolmcille fiddler James Byrne for an album which never saw the light of day for reasons too numerous to mention. When I asked James how much he'd been paid for his efforts he reckoned that it was either 'a few pints' or 'ten quid' and that was at a time when an Irish tenner was worth around 6 or $6. No contract ever exchanged hands, but the tracks James recorded were due to appear on a Topic album until Danny O'Donnell, bless his soul, kiboshed the whole affair.

That's sheer exploitation and exactly the kind of tactic that Kennedy used.