Mudcat Café message #3174306 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #138595   Message #3174306
Posted By: Jim Carroll
22-Jun-11 - 02:12 AM
Thread Name: Peter Kennedy's Folktrax recordings
Subject: RE: Peter Kennedy's Folktrax recordings
"It's always easier to ask someone else to be altruistic."
Is it altruistic to ask somebody to return something that has been dishonestly taken from them in the first place?
I am suggestion that the recordings be made freely available; I am not suggesting that the people who now claim 'ownership' pay for making them available; I have little doubt that a national appeal would go some way to raising the necessary funding for putting them up on the web, given the goodwill of the present 'owners'.
In the past Kennedy claimed these recordings as his own and created a minefield of threats of legal action to prevent access to them other than by buying them.
I don't take Vic's story to be against himself; it is typical of the barrier Kennedy created to protect his 'ownership'. That barrier is no longer there and modern technology has made it possible to distribute the material with relative ease.
The collection was the joint effort of Kennedy, Sean O'Boyle, Seamus Ennis, Bob Copper, Phillip Donnellan, (all commissioned by the BBC) Patrick Shouldham-Shaw, Cyril Tawney, and others; if anybody has responsibility for what happens to it, it is jointly that of the BBC and EFDSS, the project, inspired largely by Alan Lomax, was a joint one taken on by these two organisations.
As the former seems to have lost interest in it long ago, the responsibly for it now rests with The Society.
Hopefully, some day someone will write an account of the project and burst the mystical bubble that surrounds 'the Peter Kennedy collection', making these threads unnecessary.
A couple of personal experiences which sum up for me the bad feeling that has been generated by this collection.
In the eighties I was in a music session with one of the collectors, long acknowledged as a major contributor to the work, and taking the opportunity to gather some information, I naively said "I believe you worked on the BBC project with Peter Kennedy.
He immediately and extremely angrily spat out the reply; "That man is a thief", and stormed over to the other side of the bar.
A friend of mine, now dead, once sent a very important selection of songs he had recorded from a Traveller to Kennedy for his comments. The singer having previously died of malnutrition in a derelict house in Ireland, any proceeds from the use of these recordings had been donated by the collector towards the setting up of a school for Traveller children.
The recordings immediately appeared in the Folktrax catalogue, and despite numerous appeals down the years for them to be withdrawn or for a donation to the school, they remained there up to Kennedy's death; the Travellers' school, of course, never saw a penny, and later the project was abandoned due to lack of funding.
Not an image one would wish to be attached to one of the most important collections of folk songs ever made in these islands.   
Jim Carroll