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Reflections/Criticism of Peter Kennedy

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Desert Dancer 17 Sep 06 - 07:38 PM
Desert Dancer 18 Sep 06 - 01:27 AM
The Sandman 18 Sep 06 - 04:14 AM
The Sandman 18 Sep 06 - 04:33 AM
Scrump 18 Sep 06 - 05:17 AM
GUEST,Hootenanny 18 Sep 06 - 05:35 AM
The Sandman 18 Sep 06 - 07:34 AM
Ruston Hornsby 18 Sep 06 - 08:35 AM
The Sandman 18 Sep 06 - 09:33 AM
The Sandman 18 Sep 06 - 09:36 AM
dick greenhaus 18 Sep 06 - 09:48 AM
GUEST,Hootenanny 18 Sep 06 - 10:49 AM
Fred McCormick 18 Sep 06 - 01:10 PM
The Sandman 18 Sep 06 - 01:34 PM
Fred McCormick 18 Sep 06 - 01:49 PM
greg stephens 18 Sep 06 - 01:50 PM
Desert Dancer 18 Sep 06 - 02:10 PM
The Sandman 18 Sep 06 - 02:16 PM
GUEST,Peter Kennedy's arsewipe 18 Sep 06 - 02:30 PM
The Sandman 18 Sep 06 - 02:48 PM
GUEST,Captain Birdseye's arsewipe 18 Sep 06 - 02:57 PM
GUEST 18 Sep 06 - 03:32 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 18 Sep 06 - 03:43 PM
dick greenhaus 18 Sep 06 - 05:43 PM
The Sandman 18 Sep 06 - 06:07 PM
Charley Noble 18 Sep 06 - 08:48 PM
GUEST 19 Sep 06 - 03:50 AM
The Sandman 19 Sep 06 - 03:54 AM
Scrump 19 Sep 06 - 04:18 AM
The Sandman 19 Sep 06 - 04:27 AM
Fred McCormick 19 Sep 06 - 04:34 AM
Folkiedave 19 Sep 06 - 05:43 AM
Scrump 19 Sep 06 - 05:52 AM
Fred McCormick 19 Sep 06 - 06:00 AM
Folkiedave 19 Sep 06 - 06:26 AM
The Sandman 19 Sep 06 - 06:51 AM
Folkiedave 19 Sep 06 - 06:57 AM
GUEST,Dazbo 19 Sep 06 - 08:34 AM
The Sandman 19 Sep 06 - 08:54 AM
The Sandman 19 Sep 06 - 09:01 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 19 Sep 06 - 09:31 AM
Ruston Hornsby 19 Sep 06 - 09:47 AM
Scrump 19 Sep 06 - 09:58 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 19 Sep 06 - 10:04 AM
Ruston Hornsby 19 Sep 06 - 10:10 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 19 Sep 06 - 10:33 AM
GUEST,mick 19 Sep 06 - 10:48 AM
Anglo 19 Sep 06 - 10:53 AM
Geoff Wallis 19 Sep 06 - 02:12 PM
GUEST,Russ 19 Sep 06 - 06:54 PM
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Subject: Reflections/Criticism of Peter Kennedy
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 17 Sep 06 - 07:38 PM

A few days ago, Rod Stradling posted an interesting invition on the Musical Traditions site: Enthusiasms No 53 ("A collection of shorter pieces on subjects of interest, outrage or enthusiasm ..."): Peter Kennedy.

Here's his introduction to a list of 35 points:

"In Derek Schofield's article on Peter Kennedy in the current issue of EDS he wrote: 'There have already been calls for an open and critical debate on Peter's lifework'.

"Over the years a file of comments and information has built up in my office. I have now edited it into a series of positive and negative points about Mr Kennedy. I contacted Derek, saying that if I were to publish this in MT and ask for readers' additions and amendments, would he be interested in publishing the result in EDS? He replied that he might well be interested, adding that the Journal might be an even more appropriate place for it.

"Accordingly, what follows is a conflation of comments and information from myself and others regarding Peter's Kennedy's lifework. At it stands, it will seem biased towards the negative - primarily because the published material to date has been almost all positive, as befitted the 'obituary' type of writing which followed closely upon Peter's death. Readers with additions, amendments or corrections are asked to e-mail me with their contributions; I am particularly interested in concrete examples of traditional performers not being paid royalties, not being asked for permission to publish their music, not being informed of Folktrax publications (as in Negative 4, below). [My emphasis - BN]

"I will then subsume these contributions within the piece and submit it to Derek for possible publication by the EFDSS. If they decide not to do so, I will publish it here."

Rod Stradling - 14.9.06

On the Mudcat, Kennedy's name has arisen frequently, mostly in citations of song origins (which threads I did not probe in detail in my search here), but there are just a few comments on the man himself:

Obit: Peter Kennedy (10 June 2006)
Peter Kennedy's Folktrax collections (Oct. 2001)
Voice of the People: SPECIAL OFFER! (Nov. 2001-Jan. 2002)

I know there are some Mudcatters who can speak from personal knowledge (and not just opinion) on the topic. Get yourselves to MT. Meanwhile the usual mud can be slung here. ;-)

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Reflections/Criticism of Peter Kennedy
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 18 Sep 06 - 01:27 AM

Meanwhile the usual mud can be slung here.

Sorry, not that I'm inviting mudslinging, just anticipating the quality of exchange that can sometimes be found here when passions run high...

~ B in T


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Subject: RE: Reflections/Criticism of Peter Kennedy
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 Sep 06 - 04:14 AM

Peter Kennedy was wonderfully enthusiastic abut traditional music , he was a good player of the button accordion. Kennedy also did a vast amount of collecting [ for which I am personally in debted]he was also responsible for the introduction of the g d button accordion into english folk circles. I met him on two occasions in TOTNES, I consider it an Honour to have known him, He was a Positive man who did a lot of good for the folk revival.
    TO HIS DETRACTORS I SAY THIS. he was not someone who made vast amounts of money from the english folk scene. yes he was a professional and he made aliving out of it, but so do Lou killen and Martin Carthy.The very fact that Peter had to go out and busk when he was quite elderly confirms this. I visited his home twice, his style of living was un ostentatious, and did not fit in with the ludicrous idea that he was somekind of financial ripper offer of folk people, any more than Cecil Sharp was.


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Subject: RE: Reflections/Criticism of Peter Kennedy
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 Sep 06 - 04:33 AM

I have just read Rod Stradlings comments, What a sad man he is, he seems to make ahabit of attacking people, Firstly Nic Dow, AND NOW Peter Kennedy. its my belief that Peter Kennedy and his good points will be remembered longer than Rod Stradling, however I suppose we have Peter Kennedy to blame for the introduction of the g d button accordeon [ and the subsequent elevation to guru for Rod Stradling].Many people had feet of clay [ Ewan Maccoll, Baring gould cecil Sharp ] isnt it better to let them rest in peace, AND JUST ACKNOWLEDGE THE GOOD THEY HAVE DONE. Its time Rod Stradling locked himself up inside his button accordeon case and showed some respect for Peters memory and his widow.


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Subject: RE: Reflections/Criticism of Peter Kennedy
From: Scrump
Date: 18 Sep 06 - 05:17 AM

There was a thread about PK following his death, but I'm b*gg*red if I can find it.

First Ewan McColl, now PK. They weren't angels, but both men did a lot to raise awareness of folk music in their time. I never met Peter but found him very helpful when I contacted him with a query.

Why not remember these people for the good they did, rather than focus on the negative aspects?


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Subject: RE: Reflections/Criticism of Peter Kennedy
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 18 Sep 06 - 05:35 AM

Yes indeed many people have feet of clay and some have sticky fingers.

IF and I repeat IF the stories of BBC financed tapes going missing from the EFDSS is correct then whoever was responsible does not deserve respect whether or not he/she is recently departed.

As for Peter Kennedy not making vast amounts of money from folk music, how many people have ? I personally know several serious collectors to whom we owe a great big thankyou for finding and recording and issuing mainly at their own expense a large amount of material. Unfortunately they sometimes or should I say usually don't even get that.

With regard to your coments on Rod Stradling, I believe that he has brought the matter to light at the request of several other people and is aking for comments from both pro and anti. I personally think that Musical Traditions does a very good job at keeping the folk following at large well informed and offers all a chance to air their opinions. As far as I am concerned Rod gets my thanks for running a very interesting and informative on-line magazine.

Hoot


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Subject: RE: Reflections/Criticism of Peter Kennedy
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 Sep 06 - 07:34 AM

quote[if and i repeat if the stories of bbc financed tapesgoing missing from the EFDSS then whoever was responsible does not deserve respect whether he or she is recently departed ] since this cant be proven its better not to mention it, even by mentioning it doubts are raised against peoples character ,it is totally unfair.[ innocent until proved guilty]
   Rod Sradling has previously attacked Nic Dow on a simliar vein, you do not deny this, wehich makes me suspicious of Rods motives.
   anything that Peter Kennedy did or didnt do needs to be taken in context with the time and attitudes he was operating [ Just like Cecil Sharp]under.
I agree the dubbing on of accompaniments was a mistake, but overall his legacy is a plus. can we not remember the better sides of people . what point does it serve raking over events that happened nearly fifty years ago, and really relatively unimportant events ,talk about tilting at windmills. Rod is becoming the Don Quixote of the folk scene.Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: Reflections/Criticism of Peter Kennedy
From: Ruston Hornsby
Date: 18 Sep 06 - 08:35 AM

Suddenly it all makes sense - possibly. 20+ years ago I was playing melodeon in a pub in Barton upon Humber(N.Lincs)following a carnival where I'd been dancing with the morris team. I ended up talking to a few old locals who it turned out had been part of the 1952 one-off revival of the local mumming play - which included a sword dance. In conversation it came out that they felt some resentment towards the "folk" movement as the believed that somebody had "collected their dance and some tunes and songs and gone off and made a lot of money from them". I was suprised at this (I was pretty new to folk then)and thought that they were referring to Grimsby Folk Club stalwarts John Connolly, Bill Meek, Brian Dawson and co, all of which I knew had done a bit of collecting but were all totally honest and driven soley by their love of the music and the need to save what they could of the surviving local tradition. I passed this opinion to them - I hope it did some good - an thought little more of it. Years later I wanted to find more out about the Barrow play and their musician Luke Stanley. I spoke to both John and Brian, and apart from anything else, it was apparent that they had a good relationship with him all the way through - there was no way they were the people that that had caused the ill feeling. Using Google, I discovered Peter's FolkTrax site and it's archive recording of the play and it's music, a copy of which I purchased. Could this have been the root of the problem that led to the door being slammed in Barton as far as the play and music was concerned? If it is, it has to be seen as ill founded - and a great shame. I can see how it could be viewed as somebody profiting from a recording of someone else's playing but we're not looking at a bootleg of the Rolling Stones here, are we? I still think that Peter's work is far more good than harm, how else could I have got to hear Luke Stanley play melodeon?


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Subject: RE: Reflections/Criticism of Peter Kennedy
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 Sep 06 - 09:33 AM

RE RUSTON HORMSBY[we are not looking at bootlegging of the rolling stones]EXACTLY. this is all so petty and small minded.
I feel pretty pissed off with Dave Bulmer, suppressing my recordings, but he bought the recordings when I couldnt afford to do so, so legally he can do what he wants,.
The only thing i can do is re record them .
At least Peter Kennedy never suppressed recordings and made this wonderful music available for all who wanted to hear it, Even if he made an impecunious living while doing it, after all these recordings were not commercial hits. Rod Stradling although professional in the quality of his music has [as far as I know always been semi pro].KENNEDY after he finished working for the EfDSS, had no other means of support, all this has to be taken into consideration when making judgements.
Sometimes it can be difficult for those with steady jobs, to know how it feels not to be able to pay the next phone bill,Would it have been better for him to have become a bank clerk and to have given up collecting ,I dont think so.we would all have been the poorer.


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Subject: RE: Reflections/Criticism of Peter Kennedy
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 Sep 06 - 09:36 AM

If Rod is bringing the matter up for other people , why dont they stand up and say who they are and explain their begrudging attitudes.


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Subject: RE: Reflections/Criticism of Peter Kennedy
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 18 Sep 06 - 09:48 AM

I would suspect that virtually all of the collectors of that era--Goldstein, Lomax, MacColl, Kennedy etc.--had their share of warts. What can't be denied, though, is that they made the folk music world a far richer place that it would have been without them.


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Subject: RE: Reflections/Criticism of Peter Kennedy
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 18 Sep 06 - 10:49 AM

If someone is in such a position as to not know how to pay the next phone bill, then I doubt very much if they could afford to carry on collecting.
I know of at least one person that had a full time job and collected a vast amount of material at his own expense and made it available for issue over a number of years, and I am sure there are several more. Any return which he got from this was a fraction what what he spent. In answer to your question it might have been better if one worked as a bank clerk because then you could more probably afford to carry on collecting.

Incidentally I trust that as well as posting to this thread that you are all making your comments known to Musical Traditions as I am sure that there are people who read that mazine that do not read the mudcat threads.

Good luck with your re-recordings Dick.


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Subject: RE: Reflections/Criticism of Peter Kennedy
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 18 Sep 06 - 01:10 PM

Dick,

On a point of order, Rod Stradling's review of Nick Dow's cassette was written twenty years ago. Therefore, your sentence "Firstly Nic Dow, AND NOW Peter Kennedy" doesn't hold a whole lot of water. Neither do most of your other comments.

I can't speak for several of the points Rod has made. For instance, it's news to me that Kennedy was ever dismissed from the EFDSS. As I recall, he left (maybe to pre-empt dismissal ?) and took the copyrights of the songs he had collected whilst in their employ with him.

However, I can confirm that many other points are true. EG., he issued cassettes without seeking the permissions of the people he had recorded. Moreover, I know of at least one case where he released another collector's recordings without even asking the collector.

Equally, as you point out, Kennedy issued recordings of various traditional singers (Phoebe Smith and Joe Heaney come to mind) with unauthorised backing dubbed on.

Also, it's true that he claimed copyright royalties on behalf of the people he recorded, and was on occasion known to pay up. However, the terms of his agreements with those people were nothing short of outrageous.

For that matter, his Folktrax empire must qualify as one of the biggest rip offs in the history of recorded music. If you don't believe me, look at the costs involved, and look at the prices he charged. Then look at the incredible shoddines of his productions.

I agree, nobody's perfect, and I do sometimes wonder whether there's a positive correlation between folksong collectors and personal shortcomings. But whilst one can level criticisms at Sharp, Baring Gould, the Lomaxes, or whoever, one can usually find something positive to say in their favour. I would need to look long and hard before I could find anything positive to say about the way Peter Kennedy behaved towards others.


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Subject: RE: Reflections/Criticism of Peter Kennedy
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 Sep 06 - 01:34 PM

I can only speak from my own personal experience, as I had no financial dealings with him , I found him charming ,knowledgeable and very enthusiatic about traditional music.
   as regards nic dow.its irrelevant that these remarks were made 5months, 5 years or twenty years ago , it shows to me that he [ rod] has an axe to grind.
what i can say thats positive about peter kennedy is that he has collected and left us with a rich legacy of traditional music, isnt that more important than anything else.


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Subject: RE: Reflections/Criticism of Peter Kennedy
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 18 Sep 06 - 01:49 PM

No. How he treated the people he collected from is far more important. His failure to regard those people as sensate human beings who made and practised their own artistic culture, and whose lives and sensibilities were reflected in that cluture, undermines just about everything he does.

Regarding Rod Stradling, he was sent an allegedly very poor cassette about and wrote a harsh review of it twenty years ago. That doesn't sound much like axe grinding to me.


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Subject: RE: Reflections/Criticism of Peter Kennedy
From: greg stephens
Date: 18 Sep 06 - 01:50 PM

I can'y comment about kennedy's treatment of people he collected from, I don't know anything other the gossip you pick up. But I do have a serious criticism of his intellectual honesty, whicjh I think is important in the collecting business. For instance, in his big book(cant remeber the title,Folksongs of britain or somesuch) he printed the Cornish songs with the words translated into Cornish. Now, that would have been fine as interesting footnoes or something, but he put the Cornish words in just the same same place as the English words of other songs. This amounts to me as passing off a counterfeit as the real thing: in fact there were tiny footnotes which if read carefully would tell you that they were in fact translations, but you had to be really concentrating to spot them. I know for a fact that this deceived some credulous people into believing that these Cornish words were the originals of the songs. I believe he also rewrote a lot of songs and passed them off as something he had collected, though I have no definite personal knowledge of this. These two points I do find worrying: if someone claims to be a collector, you should be entitled to take what they offer you as what they collected, not something they've made up to back up some theory or other.
    But in general I'm with Captain Birdseye: he left us a fantastic treasure chest of music, and there's maybe not a great deal of point in being too picky about how he went about it, now he's dead and gone. Let's just relish what he rescued. But while relishing it, take it all with a pinch of salt!


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Subject: RE: Reflections/Criticism of Peter Kennedy
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 18 Sep 06 - 02:10 PM

Greg, I'm one of those credulous folks who missed the footnotes about the Cornish songs. Thanks for that information.

That's the kind of factual criticism that must be disseminated regardless of whether the perpetrator is otherwise a "nice" person.

I believe that the point of the "criticism" invited by Rod Stradling is not subjective assessment, it's collation of the facts, positive and negative, such that eventually, in viewing the whole, people can make their own subjective judgements as necessary to directing their own actions: like how and whether they use the material provided by Peter Kennedy, and what models they use in proceding with and from their own work of studying and collecting folk culture.

And in this process there is certainly value in assembling the subjective judgements of those who feel that Kennedy's actions had negative effects on them personally, particularly, of course, those from whom he collected.

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Reflections/Criticism of Peter Kennedy
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 Sep 06 - 02:16 PM

FRED MCORMICK, contact Nic dow, Nic is avery honest and well respected peformer [ why dont you get his side of the story. You might be misinformed
ON THE SUBJECT OF ROYALTIES. you really make me laugh, I recorded with three different labels,and only Brewhouse ever paid me any royalties.Brewhouse werethe most honest and genuine people on the scene.
It is quite common on the folk scene because selling 1000 copies of an album, which is what most folk artists sell is not financially viable , most artists accept this and see that the[ producers, recording labels are not making much either]neither did PETER KENNEDY, I never saw him driving through Totnes in a silver Rolls Royce , GET REAL.


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Subject: RE: Reflections/Criticism of Peter Kennedy
From: GUEST,Peter Kennedy's arsewipe
Date: 18 Sep 06 - 02:30 PM

Is there any chance of getting Captain Birdseye to write in English (and not shout his points!) so that some of us can actually work out what he's trying to say?


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Subject: RE: Reflections/Criticism of Peter Kennedy
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 Sep 06 - 02:48 PM

I apologise for shouting,.
to guest 18 sep 2 30 pm , is it necessary to be offensive,is that clear enough, do you understand my English.


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Subject: RE: Reflections/Criticism of Peter Kennedy
From: GUEST,Captain Birdseye's arsewipe
Date: 18 Sep 06 - 02:57 PM

Captain Birdseye, it's fine to respond as you have, but even your latest message is illiterate garbage.


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Subject: RE: Reflections/Criticism of Peter Kennedy
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Sep 06 - 03:32 PM

Sorry Cap'n, I'm afraid we find ourselves in opposite corners of the ring (again) on this one.
I have no doubt whatever that Peter Kennedy did a great deal of good with his work in the 1950s in collecting singers and musicians, though it is often forgotten that there were others involved: Bob Copper, Seamus Ennis and Sean O'Boyle for instance. I once asked Ennis how he felt about Kennedy; his reply was unrepeatable.
What is highly debatable in my mind is whether that good has been outbalanced by the harm caused by his insensitivity (verging on contempt) for his informants and also for fellow researchers.
His behaviour in getting informants to sign over the rights to their songs (even, in some cases, to songs they may remember in the future) has left a sour taste in the mouth, certainly here in Ireland and I am sure elsewhere in these islands. These agreements are not worth the paper they are written on, but the people he was dealing with were not to know that. He also asked a number of his singers never to sing for anybody else.
His marketing of those recordings without payment, without consent and often without the knowledge of the singers concerned was inexcusable. As well as showing a total contempt towards the singers and musicians concerned these actions have caused problems for many people who tried to follow up the work who often were met with hostility, which lost us a great deal of invaluable material and information. It must be remembered that these trips were little short of head-hunting forays and that in many cases the singers were never re-visited.
Kennedy's insensitivity was summed for me by his FSB themed series where throughout the albums he dubbed accompaniments and choruses onto field recordings. Had they been in any way skillfully done it would have been like painting a beard and moustache on the Mona Lisa, however, some of them were so inept it was like using a spray-can to do the job (can you imagine an appalling fiddle accompaniment dubbed onto the singing of one of Irelands best fiddlers!)
I believe when somebody investigated the idea of releasing albums of Harry Cox, one of his conditions was that accompaniments should be added.
A friend of mine, a collector, once sent him a set of recordings of a very important ballad singer - just for his own interest. The recordings made their way into his catalogue and, despite decades of requests to remove them, they are still available. The collector had donated the proceeds of the recordings to a Traveller children's education programme – which of course never saw a penny.
Rod Stradling is to be heartily congratulated in raising this somewhat dark period of the folk song revival. Unfortunately, Musical Traditions policy of 'temporary' censorship prevents me from offering my opinions and information. Thank you Desert Dancer for the opportunity to do so.
Jim Carroll
PS Why am I never surprised when correspondents move into anonymous mode when they behave like illiterate louts?


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Subject: RE: Reflections/Criticism of Peter Kennedy
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 18 Sep 06 - 03:43 PM

"Unfortunately, Musical Traditions policy of 'temporary' censorship prevents me from offering my opinions and information. "

That sounds frightening.

Jim, that was a very enlightening post. I find myself fascinated with this story because I have a great admiration for the collectors who preseved and perpetuated the music. Hearing stories like this has always brought me down to earth to realize that there were many forces at work during the revival periods.

One thing that I found interesting, and I'm hoping you can elaborate on - you wrote "A friend of mine, a collector, once sent him a set of recordings of a very important ballad singer - just for his own interest. The recordings made their way into his catalogue and, despite decades of requests to remove them, they are still available. The collector had donated the proceeds of the recordings to a Traveller children's education programme – which of course never saw a penny."

Are you saying that Peter Kennedy promised to donate the proceeds to the charity, or your friend promised to donate the proceeds? If that was the case, did Kennedy promise your friend that he would pay him for the unauthorized release of the recording?


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Subject: RE: Reflections/Criticism of Peter Kennedy
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 18 Sep 06 - 05:43 PM

While we're at it, we might as well jump on Moses Asch, who wasn't known for paying people. Neither, as I recall, were the Lomaxes.


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Subject: RE: Reflections/Criticism of Peter Kennedy
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 Sep 06 - 06:07 PM

To JIM CARROLL,I think you have made some very good points.
    However, I have several of Peter Kennedys books and recordings, and they have been, very useful to me.
      Brief, but literate, Captain Birdseye.


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Subject: RE: Reflections/Criticism of Peter Kennedy
From: Charley Noble
Date: 18 Sep 06 - 08:48 PM

This discussion, in between the lines of backbiting, does raise some interesting questions about Peter Kennedy and other folk music collectors and producers.

Becky, thanks for re-initiating this discussion.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Reflections/Criticism of Peter Kennedy
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Sep 06 - 03:50 AM

Ron Olesko
The collector in question had donated proceedings from the recordings to a Traveller's education programme. He sent copies of those recordings to Kennedy as a fellow collector for his interest (they were probably the most important recordings of ballad singing in the field).
Kennedy issued them commercially without permission, never paid for them and persistently ignored requests to remove them from his catalogue (this dates back thirty years). They remained in that catalogue up to Kennedy's death and presumably are still there.
Cap'n
What you appear to be saying is that as long as you are supplied with material it doesn't particulary matter to you how it was obtained, rather like it doesn't matter which sweat-shop your cheap tee-shirt came from - hmm - I'll have to think about that one.
By the way, I wasn't having a pop at you - I presume you're not 'Guest, Captain Birdseye's Arsewipe'. I thought I recognised the style of the writer of that pearl of wisdom as that of one of out leading traditional music academics.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Reflections/Criticism of Peter Kennedy
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 Sep 06 - 03:54 AM

This discussion will achieve nothing positive, it wont prevent rogues from operating on the folk scene,.
I can understand the frustrations of more scrupulous collectors and the problems they can encounter due to insentivity etc.I repeat there are people much worse than Peter Kennedy. at least he made his work available,[unlike someone resident in yorkshire]             and to me its been very useful, I agree Seamus Ennis and Bob Copper and many others behaved better and are more important[ as they didnt adulterate part of their work].
    sadly I dont think this discussion will put off the unscrupulous,.
However with the use of the computer they can be perhaps exposed more quickly. in the meantime its important to Remember Peter Kennedys good points   I believe most of Peter Kennedys books and most of his written collection is unadulterated and very useful, He is not here to defend himself, can he not be left to rest in peace.


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Subject: RE: Reflections/Criticism of Peter Kennedy
From: Scrump
Date: 19 Sep 06 - 04:18 AM

If a collector collects traditional songs from a singer, does he owe the singer anything? Obvioucly, if the singer wrote the song then yes, but if it's traditional, does the singer have any right to expect any kind of royalties? Just wondered what the position is.


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Subject: RE: Reflections/Criticism of Peter Kennedy
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 Sep 06 - 04:27 AM

Interesting one scrump, legally preobably not. Morally ,debatable. if it was me i would give them half the the royalties, what would fred mcormick and jim carroll do.
      I was hoping that Malcolm Douglas [ I know he is very busy] might be able to give an insight into how much of Kennedys work was adulterated with accompaniments, and how much written work was altered. my Impression is that both are a small proportion, since the matter has been raised ,what is needed, is precise and informed opinion.


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Subject: RE: Reflections/Criticism of Peter Kennedy
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 19 Sep 06 - 04:34 AM

In the case of Peter Kennedy and his alleged royalty expropriation, I believe the question of royalties extended to mechanical performance only. IE., reproduction of the singer or musician's performance, or what we nowadways describe as their intellectual property. In other words, Peter Kennedy had no right to release recordings of other people without seeking permission of them or their descendants, and without paying royalties.

Folksongs are, by their very nature, in the public domain. They belong to all of us and that makes a nonsense of the idea that they can or should be copyrighted.

Not that such considerations ever bothered Kennedy.


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Subject: RE: Reflections/Criticism of Peter Kennedy
From: Folkiedave
Date: 19 Sep 06 - 05:43 AM

I would like to bring look at this from a different point of view.

Why is Rod Stradling building up files on people? Clearly he built up a file on Peter Kennedy - because he says so. Who else does he have files on? Are these kept with the Data Protection Act in mind?

I have often heard of the folk police but never realised they had manifested in Stroud. Since Rod is asking for evidence of wrong doing - what are the criteria we can use to send material?

And since people are sending him material would he ask their permission to publish their names? Personally as I go around the folk world I need to know who is reporting back to whom.


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Subject: RE: Reflections/Criticism of Peter Kennedy
From: Scrump
Date: 19 Sep 06 - 05:52 AM

Ah, fair point. If a collector issues commercial recordings of a singer then obviously that singer should get royalties - and of course the singer should have to give his/her permission in the first place. I didn't realise that was what was happening here.

If an artist releases a trad song, do they get the royalties that would otherwise go to a composer? I guess that's why you often see "Trad. arr. Fred Bloggs" on records - does Fre Bloggs get the composer royalties for just "arranging" (i.e. singing) a trad song?


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Subject: RE: Reflections/Criticism of Peter Kennedy
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 19 Sep 06 - 06:00 AM

This is all getting very paranoid. Rod edits Musical Traditions magazine. I know because I am the magazine's co-editor and the piece was published in response to an article by Derek Schofield in the current issue of English Dance and Song. In that piece, Dereck called for 'an open and critical debate on Peter's lifework'. Rod's response can be seen at http://www.mustrad.org.uk/enth53.htm

Rod has edited Musical Traditions for about ten years now. During that time, Kennedy's name has come up in various pieces of correspondence. Rod, like any good editor, keeps all MT correspondence on file. All he has done is to collate and post that correspondence as part of what some of us hope will be an open and critical debate. There is nothing sinister or thought police about that.

Having seen some of the contributions to this thread, however, I'm beginning to wonder if an open and critical debate is possible.


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Subject: RE: Reflections/Criticism of Peter Kennedy
From: Folkiedave
Date: 19 Sep 06 - 06:26 AM

Fine Fred, clearly Rod rejects nothing, but puts it away in a file. Which he then produces now the subject is dead.

Are you saying nothing would have been done with this file if Derek hadn't mentioned it? Kept ad infinitum?

And I ask again - who else are there files about? And what do they contain? And are they kept with the Data Protection Act in mind?

Ask permission from the correspondents to publish their names and anyone who refuses to have their names published withdraw the allegations. You of all people Fred should be aware of the dangers of publishing anonymous material.

Rod is aking for "concrete examples......." Strange way of behaving to my mind, publishing the allegations and then asking for the evidence.


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Subject: RE: Reflections/Criticism of Peter Kennedy
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 Sep 06 - 06:51 AM

when something is trad arr, the proportion of royalties is very small, unlike when something is composed by somebody. thats why lennon and macartney were so much richer than the other beatles . as someone who has written songs and also perfomed trad material, which have been played on national radio.Iam speaking from personal experience
the amounts you get for trad arr, even when played on national radio is very small compared to self penned songs, something like six per cent as against 100 per cent,.
so what KENNEDY would have made would have been pence, or at the most [ national radio, a couple of pounds]on every play, enough maybe to cover his travelling expenses, if anyone can produce facts and figures to refute this please do, so lets get all this into perspective
I appreciate fred mcormick and jim carrolls contributions ,If they can produce financial evidence to prove that i am wrong then please do so. now this matter has been raised its only fair its clarified . if I hear nothing; viewers can make up their own minds. Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: Reflections/Criticism of Peter Kennedy
From: Folkiedave
Date: 19 Sep 06 - 06:57 AM

Sorry I had no wish to remain anonymous.

Dave Eyre


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Subject: RE: Reflections/Criticism of Peter Kennedy
From: GUEST,Dazbo
Date: 19 Sep 06 - 08:34 AM

Reading this thread with interest but not having any knowledge of Peter Kennedy's doings (alleged or otherwise) but to me Dick, your argument in your last post ("so what KENNEDY would have made would have been pence...") strikes me as saying that it doesn't matter that Peter Kennedy stole from his sources because it was only a few pence or poundsat a time. Honesty and integrity don't come on a sliding scale, you are either honest or you are not.


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Subject: RE: Reflections/Criticism of Peter Kennedy
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 Sep 06 - 08:54 AM

yes ,but in any judgement the magnitude of a crime does make a difference, judgements are being made about Peter Kennedy ,it needs to be put in perspective.
If he allegedly misappropriated royalties the size and the amount does make a difference. any judge , magistrate, takes the size of an offence into consideration when sentencing, so this is important . while I disapprove of dishonesty, And have made it clear I would not have acted like this, no one yet has proved that he was legally not entitled to do this.
Before anyone starts ranting on about principles, let me say everything here is only alleged. and when principles come in the door CommonSense goes out the window.
Peter kennedy may have not been a saint , and un doubtedly was not as important as Seamus Ennis,but through his collections has given more pleasure and knowledge and done more good than bad , and his legacy is plus 7 out of ten as far as I am concerned.


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Subject: RE: Reflections/Criticism of Peter Kennedy
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 Sep 06 - 09:01 AM

kennedy probably justified this to himself [ if he did it]as being expenses. I am not justifying it either , but trying to understand.in life not everything is black and white often there are grey areas. finally a lot of this happened fifty years ago, there is someone resident in Yorkshire who is a bigger problem,and whose legacy is about 2 out of ten.


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Subject: RE: Reflections/Criticism of Peter Kennedy
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 19 Sep 06 - 09:31 AM

Jim, thank you for the explanation. One more question if you don't mind - you said your friend donated proceeds from the recordings to a Traveller's Education program. Does that mean that your friend had released the recording commercially? I am not sure how he would have received proceeds if it wasn't a commercial release. If that is so, when he gave a copy of a commercially releaed recording to Peter Kennedy which was then released on Folktrak, it would seem that your friend would have certain legal standing and precedent to sue.

It boggles my mind that someone could have done business like this if there were so many "issues", such as those we are hearing in this thread.


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Subject: RE: Reflections/Criticism of Peter Kennedy
From: Ruston Hornsby
Date: 19 Sep 06 - 09:47 AM

All this makes you think. I've appeared as a musician for morris on the Whitby video a number of times, the Sidmouth one at least once - all of which were commercial videos - should I really be looking to claim royalties from all of this? Should we charge an up front fee from anyone wishing to video our performances or take photographic images? Where do you start, where do you stop with all of this?


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Subject: RE: Reflections/Criticism of Peter Kennedy
From: Scrump
Date: 19 Sep 06 - 09:58 AM

All this makes you think. I've appeared as a musician for morris on the Whitby video a number of times, the Sidmouth one at least once - all of which were commercial videos - should I really be looking to claim royalties from all of this? Should we charge an up front fee from anyone wishing to video our performances or take photographic images? Where do you start, where do you stop with all of this?

Interesting questions. My feeling is that if I appear in a video/DVD briefly, it will actually give me a bit of free publicity, and possibly kudos, depending on what it was. Then I'd probably be happy and wouldn't want any fees, although I guess if it was a huge seller (e.g. a DVD of a Hollywood blockbuster) I might think differently.

But if for example a whole concert I was in was filmed and sold, then I would obviously like a share of any profits.

Depending on the circumstances, I would think it could be counter-productive to always demand royalties for any appearance, regardless of other factors, but others may disagree (and probably will!)


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Subject: RE: Reflections/Criticism of Peter Kennedy
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 19 Sep 06 - 10:04 AM

"I've appeared as a musician for morris on the Whitby video a number of times, the Sidmouth one at least once - all of which were commercial videos - should I really be looking to claim royalties from all of this? "

Here in the U.S., crowds are often told in advance that they are being filmed or taped. The performers would sign waivers to participate or to allow the production to be recorded.

My daughter appeared briefly on network television this past weekend. Her high school band was videotaped as part of a reality-based program that happened to be taping in our town. No one received payment. They were asked if they would like to appear, they said yes.

Frankly, productions like this would probably dry up if every performer had to be paid.


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Subject: RE: Reflections/Criticism of Peter Kennedy
From: Ruston Hornsby
Date: 19 Sep 06 - 10:10 AM

Yep - this is the point - where do you draw the line? The thing with the Kennedy collection I suppose is that it seems the beg the question of how much of what he recorded would have disappeared without trace and have been lost forever if he hadn't have done what he did?


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Subject: RE: Reflections/Criticism of Peter Kennedy
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 19 Sep 06 - 10:33 AM

" I suppose is that it seems the beg the question of how much of what he recorded would have disappeared without trace and have been lost forever if he hadn't have done what he did? "

I'm not sure if the end justify the means in "saving" this material, but it is a good question.

I'm not sure if we will ever know. Would there have been others that would have collected these songs? Would they have truly disappeared? If a song has been handed down for generations, would the chain have been broken and the song lost without the intervention of a collector?   We can only speculate.


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Subject: RE: Reflections/Criticism of Peter Kennedy
From: GUEST,mick
Date: 19 Sep 06 - 10:48 AM

I've got a copy of Kennedy's ballads at home .In my opinion it's a treasure and if he made a few bob out of it good luck to him.I only met him once ,over thirty years ago in Totnes when me and a couple of friends were a bit worse for wear and stuck for a place to stay for the night after a concert he had put on. He took a chance and put us up without knowing us at all . A decent man ,that's the way he struck me. But even if he hadn't been you'd still have to respect him for his collections( despite the terrible translations of the Irish songs).


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Subject: RE: Reflections/Criticism of Peter Kennedy
From: Anglo
Date: 19 Sep 06 - 10:53 AM

One of Peter Kennedy's habits when producing recordings I found particularly irritating was his assembling "musical collages" of ballads, for example doing the first section of a ballad with a few verses from Harry Cox, then a few of someone else, then someone else again. He did this, for example, on some of the Caedmon Folksongs of Britain series (later released on Topic in Britain). Even more irritating, some of these collages were made up of three singers (with similar texts, but different tunes and keys) going in rotation one verse at a time. It's unlistenable!

His rationale was that space was limited on the LP and we wanted to present as much material as possible, but the texts in the notes only gave the verses that were actually presented on the recording. I thought he might get rid of this notion when some of these were published on CD, with more time available, as part of the Rounder Lomax series (two volumes of Child Ballads and the Songs of Seduction are the only CDs that were released as far as I'm aware); but no! not only are the old collages still there, but he actually made up new ones.


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Subject: RE: Reflections/Criticism of Peter Kennedy
From: Geoff Wallis
Date: 19 Sep 06 - 02:12 PM

I never met Peter Kennedy, but I did correspond with him a few years back. I was attempting to produce a CD compiling all the recordings of the Donegal fiddler Néillidh Boyle (or Neil O'Boyle as he appeared on some 78s). As I explained to Peter in my letter requesting permission to use his own tapes of Néillidh this would be a limited release of 1,000 copies with all proceeds to go to the Donegal Fiddlers' Association.

In response I received a very strange reply asserting that Boyle was an Irish fiddler, not just of interest to Donegal (I think I know what he was getting at) and that PK would grant permission to use 'his' recordings - I won't go into the provenance issue - if he were to receive 75% of the income derived from all retail sales! Agreeing to such terms would have rendered the whole project ridiculous, so I wrote back to tell him so.

Now, of course, PK's Boyle tapes are out of copyright, and it's time to get that compilation back on the road.


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Subject: RE: Reflections/Criticism of Peter Kennedy
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 19 Sep 06 - 06:54 PM

The following is a RANT:
By a Yank, to boot.

Granted, the monetary amounts involved are relevant.

Granted, if it came to a trial, a number of participants in this thread would apparently be glad to appear as character witnesses for Kennedy's defense.

Nevertheless...

Something is missing in this discussion.

It is also usually missing from discussions like this one.

In such discussions, whether they be about Kennedy, Peer, Sharp, Lomax, Thomas, Niles, or A.P. Carter, the focus is always on the perp.

Nobody wants to talk about the victims.

It would be perfectly reasonable for the victims to ask, "So what are we? Chopped liver?"

Nobody wants to talk about the impact of the perp's behavior on real human beings, and their friends, and relations, and the musical traditions themselves.

Nobody wants to consider the ramifications of broken promises and betrayed trusts.

For example,
John Morgan Salyer was so dismayed by the stories he heard about the predetory relations between "collectors' and traditional musicians that he stopped playing in public and refused to allow anybody to record him.

The only recordings we have of his playing were made by him. His family consistently refused to share those recordings with anybody outside the family until Bruce Greene came along.

Such an impact on a particular traditional musician is not trivial. Now multiply that by 10 or 100 and think of the impact of sleazy collecting practices on an entire musical tradition.

To paraphrase a remark made TO a patronizing collector of traditional music BY someone who wasn't impressed with the collector's "credentials",
"These people aren't a bunch of ignorant natives on some island, they are my friends"

I personally am appalled by Kennedy's disrespect for his sources.

Russ (Permanent GUEST)


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