DAVID KENNEDY (1825-1887)
First and foremost was the famous Scottish folksinger whose memorial stands on Calton Hill overlooking the city of Edinburgh. His family of children numbered eleven and on his many world tours he was always accompanied by two, three, four or five of them. They organised the billposting, the tickets, and got ready the hall, the piano, the stage and the candles. They also joined in choruses and accompanied their father on piano. One of his daughters, Marjory, went on to collect "The Songs of the Hebrides", using an Edison-Bell phonograph or what she called her "graphophone" and pioneered, as accompaniment, the use of the "Clarsach" or minstrel harp. After performing in all the major towns and cities of England, Scotland and Ireland, and also making a name in America and Canada, in 1872, David Kennedy embarked on his first World family tour lasting three years. Practising on board during the three months passage, they sailed to Australia on a record-breaking clipper ship, "The Ben Ledi", from Glasgow to Melbourne, round the Cape of Good Hope, not stopping at any port and, for increased speed, skirting the ice-floes of the Antarctic. Their amazing experiences in Australia, Tasmania and both islands of New Zealand, were followed by further adventures as they journeyed across the Pacific to San Francisco and then across America to Canada and Newfoundland. David had the honour to sing the American National Anthem at the opening of the Pacific Railway. He had as much time for the Aboriginals, the Maoris and other native peoples as for the other emigrant families from Europe, Africa and, of course, for his "ain folk". David Junior kept diaries and wrote up accounts of some of their World Tours and his sister, Marjory Kennedy-Fraser, added to these with her own account of these and the other tours to Australasia, America, South Africa and India. After her father's death she herself spent the rest of her life recording and publishing the Gaelic traditions of the Scottish Isles as well as performing world-wide with her daughter, Patuffa.
Here are some of the traditional songs in David Kennedy's family repertoire for which he will be specially remembered -
Alister McAlister; An thou wert my ain thing; The Auld man's mare's deid; The Bailiff's Daughter of Islington; Bessy Bell & Mary Gray; The Bonny Hoose o' Airlie; The Brisk Young Lad; Burns and his Highland Mary; Ca the Ewes to the Knowes ; Come under my plaidie; The De'il's awa wi' the Exciseman; The Dowie Dens o Yarrow; Earlistoun; The Flowers of the Forest Get up and bar the door-o (he wrote an extra verse (see "Reminiscences" p46); The Golden Vanitie (also sung by his grandson, Douglas, FTX-041); Hame cam oor gudeman at een (The Cuckold Ballad, also sung by Douglas on FTX-041); Helen of Kirkconnel; Holland, Green Holland; Jenny come down to Jock; Jenny dang the weaver (for which he wrote 2 extra verses see "Reminiscences" p47); John Grumlie; The Jolly Beggar; The Laird o' Cockpen; The Land o' the Leal; Lizzie Lindsay; My wife has ta'en the gee; The Rinawa' bride; Roy's Wife of Aldivalloch; Saw ye my father?; Tak' your auld cloak aboot ye; Tibby, fowler of the glen; Wae's me for Prince Charlie (original words & introduction); Waly Waly; The Weary pund o' tow; The Wee wee German lairdie; Woo'd and married an a
DOUGLAS KENNEDY (1893-1975) - 3rd generation Douglas's father was the youngest of David Kennedy Senior's family and, although trained and practising as a lawyer, eventually through the family connection with Tobias Matthay's piano teaching method, became well-known as a singing teacher. He died visiting a pupil in Bristol in 1912. While nursing his wife, Helen, Douglas recorded his life story from his early days in Edinburgh, coming to London with his singing father, his own involvement with the folk collector Cecil Sharp. He recorded his own adventures until the time Helen died. The story finishes in 1935 at the time of the unique International Folk Festival in London in 1935 and the beginning of the massed nazi stadium rallies in Germany. (His own telling of the tale is available on 13 CDs and the Kennedy Family songs and dance music can be heard on Folktrax CD 041)
PETER KENNEDY (1922-)
Peter could perhaps be described as a kind of behind-the-scenes "boffin", a researcher-cum-entrepreneur, somebody who has combined mobile recording with being a catalyst and prosletysing - so much of this work, covering over fifty years, like that of other field workers has remained sight unseen and yet the effects and extent may have reached into some very odd corners.
As a youngster his own special interest was the technical side of Theatre and Film. When at Stratford-on-Avon before the war, the Stage Manager of the Memorial Theatre, Barbara Curtis, allowed him to operate the lighting and moving stages and to be present behind-the-scenes diring the Shakespeare matinees.
At the Film Studios in London he also went to meet Alexander Korda in order to get his advice on a suitable training. In thosedays there were no Theatre Schools teaching the technical side of Film or Theatre and Korda advised a three-dimensional training at The Architectural Association School of Architecture.
A few weeks before war broke out Peter had a unique introduction to Documentary Film-making when he and his family sailed in a Galway turf-boat from the Connemara coast to the Isle of Aran. Looked after by Pat Mullen and Maggie Dirrane, they stayed in the cottage built specially by Robert Flaherty for the making of his famous local documentary, "Man of Aran".(FTX-421).
(1) SCENE FROM ABOVE - As a teenager, during the war, he was one of a group of RAF pioneers using aerial photography, viewed in stereo, to identifty enemy activities and prepare topographical models, or 3-D maps, for use by the tactical planners as well as for the fighters actively involved in "going in to take them out". Any disturbance of topsoil or change in levels are immediately located when seen in stereo, so unarmed planes carrying aerial cameras, such as the laminated wood "Mosquitoes" were used to to take "spaced-out" pictures. For some operations, such as the well-known Dambusters, flying aerial cover beforehand might well have "given the game away", so the wartime modelmakers supplemented their source information with pre-war "holiday snaps. Too often they found that somebodys grandma had been photographed obscuring important details of the objective dam". These holiday snaps had been gathered at the start of the war from members of the public by the Admiralty.
Having had several years experience before the USA came into the war, Peter and the rest of his Photo-Interpretors Team took on the job of training an American Modelmaking Unit, many of whose personnel were made up of craftsmen from the Walt Disney Studios. (Some of the photographic models can be viewed in the Duxford branch of the Imperial War Museum).
(2) WORLD FOLK - Before joining the RAF Peter trained at the A.A. as an architect, but, after demobilisation, decided to give up model-making, and his previously intended vocation of theatre design, and help his parents, Douglas and Helen, in order to revitalise a number of national and international organisations concerned with traditional heritage. So Peter helped organise National and International Conferences and Festivals. He edited The International Folk Directory and The International Folk Film Catalogue for Unesco and started regular broadcasts on radio. In particular he made known the folk traditions of Britain and Ireland, the Basque Country, Italy and Yugoslavia. (A double-album CD set of the 1951 recordings of the Republics of Yugoslavia have now been released as Volume V in the Alan Lomax "World Library series" by Rounder Records 11661-1745 - A condensed version is available on FTX-601-605 inclusive).
(3) THE BARNSTORMERS -- His first piece of single-handed work was in the revival of village dancing as it had survived in the more remote communities, first in the North-East, in Northumberland, Durham and Yorkshire and then in the West Country. Leading the dances and using his own one-man band of squeeze-box, (melodeon) and foot-operated bass drum, he visited hundred of young farmer's, youth clubs and village halls, introducing what he chose to call "Village Barn Dance", incorporating whatever locals could remember of the pre-war country dances, quadrilles, four-hand reels, polkas, schottisches, waltzes and varsovianas. Although many of these old-time traditional dances are still much enjoyed today by parent-teacher groups and others, they seem now to have lost their elemental basic rhythmical effectiveness. The American style "calling" has been introduced by leaders controlling the dance-floor, usually for their own self-egrandisement, and making new composed dances (what was wrong with the traditional?) and adding new tunes played from music-stands instead of using those that were familiar. (Some of the musicians Peter recorded in Northumberland can be heard in a "Barn Dance" programme on FTX-121)
(4) MORRIS MAIDENS. While working in the North he managed to bring about the revival of a number of local "morris" including Plough Stot teams using long swords notably at Loftus and Skelton Green in Cleveland and rapper at villages like High Spen and Winlaton. Next Peter directed his attention to the decline in popularity of morris in the Cotswolds. He prepared a Manual for new dances based on but differing from existing surviving teams. This was rejected in favour of "a standardisation of the tradition" by members of the Morris Ring. He also rekindled the pre-war team, "The Beaux of London City" which had been formed by his brother, John, and musician, Patrick Shuldham-Shaw. However the inclusion of a women's side, "The Belles", again challenged the convention, and led to a number of the revival morris teams adopting an male "We're virile beer-drinkers" campaign to discourage women from starting their own Morris sides. (Traditional Morris musicians, William Kimber on FTX-383 & Billy Wells on FTX-384)
(5) THE BALLET CLOGGIES - In Durham he noted and revived dance teams in several villages and then turned his attention to step-dancing. An article in a Newcastle evening newspaper produced loads of addresses of performers who had competed before the war. Outstanding were Jim Ellwood, his son, Johnson, and Tiny Allison and Tiny's young collier apprentice, Jackie Toaduff. Peter put up a silver belt and Jackie won the first post-war Northumberland and Durham championship. When Peter returned to London he started teaching folkdance at the Royal Ballet Schools (Senior & Junior) and got Jackie out of the mines in Durham and down to London to demonstrate at the two schools. Strange to say one outcome of these visits was a French ballet, "La Fille Mal Gardee", incorporating some of the elements of the North country garland and the clog dance steps. More recently, and several generations later, the North-East style of clog-dancing, which Jackie introduced to the Royal Ballet, has manifest itself, with all Jackie's rhythmical skill and vitality too, in the recent movie "Billy Elliott".
(6) SQUARE CIRCLES - Overnight, when Princess Elizabeth was seen enjoying herself dancing in a country quadrille in Canada, Peter, because of his father's research in America, suddenly became someone in widespread demand. This was, incidentally, the first introduction of "jeans" to Britain. Everyday Peter and Pat ran lunch-time classes for the ballroom dancing instructors. Mecca Halls and Butlin's Camps all had to know how to run and call square dances. Every evening at the Lyceum, Peter and Pat were calling for two bands on a revolving stage and a weekly BBC radio programme produced by Charles Chilton, "Square Dance Revels," unearthed pistol-packing cowboys and cowgirls across the land. The practice of "calling the dances", gave rhythmical warnings and instructions during the dance.
HRH Princess Margaret showed great interest in both the dances and the music, and, being an admirer of Jimmy Shand, asked Peter to teach her the melodeon. The dance which Peter composed and danced with her on many occasions, "Princess Margagaret's Fancy", encapsulated the many different figures of country dances he had encountered at the village barn dances. Recently we have witnessed the re-enactment of American ranch culture with leather boots. In the States known as "Country and Western Dancing" but over here in Britain as "line-dancing". (Peter plays melodeon for "Princess Margaret's Fancy" on FTX-323)
((7) STEAMBOAT SKIFFLE - In the fifties, there were literally only a few dozen guitars in the whole of Britain. That was, of course, until John Hasted, a boffin friend at London University, came to Peter's "London Reel Club" and re-introduced the guitar as a ship-board percussion instrument alongside tea-chest bass and washboard. In fact it was because of the swish-swashing sound, that, without thought, we called it "Skiffle", a word that occurs in folksongs like "Knickerbocker Line" and "Maggie May"and the name not only stuck but spread like wildfire. (You can hear Peter's recording of the Steve Benbow Folk Four, "Dirty Old Town", made at The Skiffle Cellar in Soho, in 1958, on FTX-091).
(8) CROSSING THE TRACKS - At that time Peter was working with George Martin, who had been hired to develop the Parlophone catalogue at Abbey Road Studios, producing the first folk records with songs like "Wild Mountain Thyme", "Will you go, lassie, go? And we'll all go together" sung by the McPeake family of Belfast and contemporary songs like Ewan McColl's "Space Girl". He was the first to record LPs for groups like "The Spinners" and "The Dubliners" and he reported to EMI on the various skiffle groups emerging in schools and youth clubs up and down the country. Among these groups was a a one called "The Quarrymen" from Liverpool.
At that time the Beatles were interested in traditional music and Peter arranged with Brian Epstein at Apple for Francis McPeake to make a set of Irish bagpipes, or Uillean Pipes, for John Lennon. So out of Skiffle emerged "Rock and Roll" and the rest is hysterical. (The McPeakes Bagpipes can be heard on FTX-071)
(9) MORE STEAMY SOUNDS - Peter's early research work in Northumberland and the West Country quickly led to the BBC copying his tapes for the archive and inviting Seamus Ennis and himself to cover the whole of Britain and Ireland. The results of their travels, intended only for the archive, naturally led to broadcasts. Following on the heels of "Country Magazine", broadcast weekly on Sunday mornings, listeners began to hear some of the great rebel folk musicians talking about how they had held on to their musical traditions. Peter chose the name of the programme and its signature tune, "As I roved", and he and the Irish Uillean piper and singer, Seamus Ennis, presented a weekly report on their travels around Britain and Ireland. These broadcasts, which went on intermittenly over a period of 15 years stimulated interest, particularly among young people, in the power of "The People's Music and its Ritual". (Listen to the Radio Ballads and the "As I roved out" and "A-Roving" series FTX-307-308-309-310).
(10) BIRDS IN BOXES - Peter's mobile recording work using reels of tape and two-track stereo, long before either were taken up by radio or record companies, resulted in him being asked by head of engineering, Tim Eckersley at BBC, to work with the Austrian ornithologist, Ludwig Koch. (In the Zoo, Ludwig asked Peter to play back recordings of African elephants to their Indian brothers and to record their response - in those days requiring some elaborate recording gear - we still have the historic blank tape in our archive!) Eventually Koch was persuaded to allow the BBC to purchase his entire collection to form the basis of a new "wild life" sound archive. At Bristol Peter had worked under Desmond Hawkins and Frank Gillard and had helped in field trials of the parabolic reflector microphone for spot-miking birds and other animals. His experience and enthusiasm at Bristol in those days led to the creation of what has now become "The BBC Natural History Unit". When he became part of the BBC Features Dept., he and Seamus agreed to let Eric Simms, whose job was to extend Natural History broadcasts and archiving, share a corner of their office. On the door it proclaimed "The Folk Music and Dialect Recording Scheme plus Birdlife". Little did we know then that the natural history and wildlife would eventually become even more extensive than our own humble mapping of the goings-on of the humans, our own ethnological inheritance.
(11) BALLADS ON THE BOX - Peter began presenting traditional music on television, doing children's and schools programmes about Dance, Work Song, Ballads and Shanties for Associated Rediffusion and then, with his American counterpart, Alan Lomax, "Song Hunter", a series for BBC from Alexandra Palace. This was the very first TV programme featuring traditional performers like Harry Cox, Charlie Wills, Margaret Barry and Michael Gorman and was also a first for David Attenborough who had just completed his training as a TV producer. After that David went on to the Royal Zoological Gardens in Regents Park and began the long-lasting series of "Zoo Quest". In the meantime, Peter, Seamus and Alan with a number of other radio presentations, including some outstanding ones on the BBC Thirds Programme, unfortunately, as was the case in those days, not recorded, except by a few enthusiasts "off the air". The most sensational was the 1957 "Sing Christmas" Round-up programme which preceeded the annual "Queen's Speech", a spot formerly reserved for coastguards and lighthouse-keepers. (FTX-950)
(12) FLICKERINGS - Peter started using 16mm to film local customs such as the Minehead hobby horse in 1953 (FF-1102). Then working with George Pickow, cameraman, and Alan Lomax as director and script-writer, Peter produced a film of the Hobby Horse ceremony at Padstow in Cornwall called "Oss Oss Wee Oss" which blew the mind of American anthropologist, Margaret Mead. (FF-1103) His films of the Portland Stone Quarrymen in Dorset are frequently seen on TV (FF1106) and his first film of London street games "One Potato, Two Potato" won many awards for the British Film Institute (FF-1107).Some of these custom films are now being incorporated in a new TV production by Peter Blow in Canada called "Masks and Mummers" (FF-4402).
Blow had already created a stir among film buffs with his "Village of Widows" portraying the no-warning deaths of the Uranium miners in Alaska, and now more recently filming Inuit Mummers he decided to work with Kennedy contrasting the remote Newfoundland Mummers and the thousand-strong annual city parade of the Philadelphia Mummers. In England they filmed the hobby-horses at Minehead and in Ireland the seasonal groups of Mummers around Ennikskillen and, in the South, the Strawboys and the Wrenboys.
NEXT? - So far we have neglected Peter's proposals for ensuring that future generations respect their traditional roots. For 15 years he was a degree lecturer at Dartington College of Arts where his job was to try and get the Music and Theatre and Art students not only speak to each other but also to understand the social-ritual, entertainment-educational and communal value of traditional studies. He would like to see more schools and colleges follow the example made in Denmark by the ballad scholar, Grundvig, who set up "Folk Colleges" in Jutland in the 1920s.
Peter is in favour of the "Foxfire" method of tapping parents and grandparent power and the use of "The Dalton Educational System", under which he benefitted at his experimental preparatory school with the use of individual assignments. In this, each classroom is itself a specialistic reference library and archive where students "can find out for themselves", as they will need to do later in life, rather than employing the disastrous class-preaching and exam system which in no way enables our youngsters to appreciate the value of community life.
HERE ARE SOME DETAILS OF THE FIRST WORLD TOURS BY "THE SINGING KENNEDYS":-
TOUR #2 in 1872-6 with wife, Helen, Marjory, David & James Kennedy (Robert joining the group later) Dep. Glasgow (March 1872): (By non-stop Clipper ship "Ben Ledi") Madeira (mentioned en route): 1 AUSTRALIA (Victoria & NSW): Cape Otway: 1 Port Phillip: 1, 66 Melbourne (Victoria): 1-7, 16, 143 Geelong: 10-11,16 Sandhurst or Bendigo: 11 Echuca: 13 Castlemaine: 14 Kyneton: 15 Melbourne (Jan 1873): 16 Winchelsea: 16 Colac: 16 Camperdown: 16 Terang: 18 Mortlake: 18 Warrnambool: l9 Belfast: 19 Portland: 19 then inland into "The Bush" Branxholme: 21 Hamilton: 21, 59 Ararat: 21 Daylesford: 22 Bacchus Marsh: 22 Melbourne (March 1873): 22 Kilmore: 23, 45 Seymour: 23 Longwood: 23 Violet Town: 23 Oxley: 24 Benalla: 24 Wangaratta: 25 Beechworth: 25 Yackandandah: 25 Chiltern: 25 Wagunyah (Into NSW 23 days out): 25 Albury: 25 Billabong Creek: 26-7 Wagga Wagga (NSW): 25,27-8 Gundagai: 28 Yass: 28 Goulburn: 28 (By train) Sydney: 29-31, 143-4 Parramatta: 31 (Steamship from Sydney NSW) Brisbane (Queensland): 33 Gympie: 33, 35-7 Maryborough: 38 Rockhampton: 39-40 Maryborough: 40 Brisbane: 40 (then inland by train) Ipswich: 41 Dalby: 42 Toowoomba: 42 Warwick: 42 Stanthorpe: 42 Tenterfield (NSW): 44 Deepwater: 44 Glen Innes: 44 Armidale: 45-6 Tamworth: 50 Murrurundi: 50 (by train) Scone: 50 Musclebrook: 50 Singleton: 50 Maitland: 51 Newcastle (seaport): 50-1 Musclebrook: 51 Denman: 51 Merriwa: 52 Cassilis: 52 Gulgong: 51-2 Mudgee: 53 Hill End: 55 Bathurst: 55 (by rail) Sydney: 56 (by steamship) Hobart (Tasmania): 56-7 New Norfolk: 58 Hamilton: 58-9 Bothwell: 59 Launceston: 61 (480m by steamship) Adelaide (S.Aus.): 62-3 Gawler: 64 Strathalbyn: 64 Tanunda: 64 Burra Burra: 65 Kadina: 65 Port Wallaroo: 65 Moonta: 65 Adelaide: 65 (steamship back) Melbourne: 66 (Steamship "Albion") Dunedin (Otago NZ-SI) : 66-9, 70-2 Waihola Gorge: 73 Milton: 74-5 Tuapeka: 74-5 Balclutha: 75-6 Te Whetu (NZ): 108-112 Tokomairiro: 76 Popotunoa: 76-7 Mataura: 78 Invercargill: 78 Riverton: 79 Winton: 79-80 Kingston: 81 (sailed) Lake Wakatip: 81-3 Queenstown: 83-4 Arrowtown: 85 Cromwell: 85 Clyde: 86 Otepopo: 87 Oamaru (seaport): 87 Waimate: 90 Timaru (Canterbury): 90 ("Cobb's coach") Temuka: 91 Ashburton: 92 Christchurch: 90-5 Port Lyttleton: 75 (Steamship of 286 tons) Port Nicholson: 96 Wellington (NZ-NI): 96-8 Hutt Valley &Ngahauranga: 99 (Steamer through Cook's Straits) Picton: 100 Nelson: 99 (sailed past Cape Egmont) Taranaki: 101 Auckland - party divided (part Steamer & part Overland) Napier: 106, 132-5 (coach ?) Drury: 107 Point Russel or Mercer: 107 Rangariri: 107 Cambridge: 108 Te Whetu: 108-112 Rotorua: 113-4 Ohinemutu: 113-121 Whaka-rewa-rewa: 120 Tiki Tapu: 122 Taupo (NZ-NI): 132 Wairoa: 122 (by canoe) Rotomahana: 122-3 (150m by coach) Taupo: 132 Napier: 135 (south by coach) Pohui: 134 Waipawa: 135-6 Manawatu Gorge: 138-9 Palmerston: 140 Wanganui: 140 (by steamer "Manawatu") Wellington: 141-2 (steamer) Melbourne: 142-3 (steamer) Sydney: 143 (June 1875 by steamer "Macgregor") Auckland: 144 Sandwich Islands (after 16 days): Honolulu: 146-9 San Francisco (Ca. USA): 150-4 Stockton: 155 Sacramento: 155-6 (east by train) Nevada: 156-7 Salt Lake City: 157-163 Ogden: 163 (after 3 days through Nebraska & Wyoming) Omaha: 164 Chicago: 164-6 Detroit: 166 Windsor (CANADA): 167 Toronto: 167, 176 Hamilton: 168 Clifton: 168 Niagara: 168-70 Simcoe: 171 London: 171 Stratford: 171 Galt: 172 Guelph: 172 Berlin: 172 (first sleigh ride) Ayr: 172 Listowel: 173 Wingham: 173 Barrie: 175 Mount Forest: 176 Southampton: 176 Toronto (Grand Trunk Railway) Belleville 176 (Sleigh ride) Picton: 176-7 Kingston: 178 Ottawa: 178 Montreal (Jan 1876): 179-183 Quebec: 184-5 Island Pond: 187 St John (NB): 187-9 Fundy, Bay of: 188 Newcastle: 189 (by steamer) Chatham: 189 Moncton: 190 Amherst (NS): 190 Truro: 190 Cape Breton Island: 190 Halifax: 190-1 (by steamer) St John's (NFL) 192-8 (by liner) Liverpool: 198
SOUTH AFRICA dep Jan 1879 David Jnr (2 weeks ahead) Senr, Marjory & Lizzie, Robert & James Dartmouth (Donald Currie steamer "Dublin Castle") Cape Town arr. March 1879: 201-9 (by sail & surf-boat) Port Elizabeth: 206 Grahamstown: 208 King William's Town: 210-214 Alice (Stutterheim): 215 Fort Beaufort: 218 Katberg: 219 Queenstown: 220 Molteno: 222 Burgersdorp: 222-3 AliwaL Norh: 223 Smithfield (Orange FS): 224 Bloemfontein: 227-8 Kimberley: 228-37 Fauresmith: 238 Phillippolis; 238 Colesberg (Cape Prov.): 239 Cradock: 239-240 Somerset East: 240 Port Elizabeth: 241 (3 days by steamer) Durban (Natal): 242 (by train) Botha's Hill (by Murray's bus) (Pieter) Maritzburg: 244 Durban: 249 (by steamer) Mossel Bay: 248 Cape Town: 249 (by steamer) England (port not stated)
INDIA Oct 1879 dep Southampton on Steamer "Khedive" Father, mother, Helen, Lizzie while Marjory went ahead to make arrangements (via Dieppe, Paris, Brindisi, Alexandria, Aden, Bombay arriving 2 weeks ahead of the others) Calcutta: 250 (by railway 130 miles) Assenhole: 273-4 Jammalpore: 274 Dinapore: 274-5 Benares: 275-281 Allabad: 284 Jubbulpore: 288 Bombay: 289-92 Jubbulpore: 292 Lucknow: 292-6 Cawnpore: 296-9 Agra: 300 Delhi: 306 Lahore: 307-8 Dinapore: 312 Calcutta: 312 By Steamer "Mirzapore" Madras: 313-4 Ceylon: 314 Suez: 316-7 (Here father, mother & two sisters took ship to join Robert, James & Marjory in Italy) Valetta (MALTA); 317 Gibraltar: 319 Southampton: 319
Here now is a brief extract of the start of Tour #2 of Great Grandfather Kennedy's World Tours as told by his son, David (Peter, is presently preparing "The Full Story" for publication):-
CHAPTER 1. About the middle of March, 1872, we sailed from Glasgow to Melbourne in the clipper ship "Ben Ledi" Its staterooms were commodious, and just numerous enough to accommodate our party, so that we reigned supreme in the saloon. To while away the time, we occasionally gave concerts to the sailors. The jolly tars more than once reciprocated by decorating the forecastle with bunting and lamps, and inviting us to listen to their nautical lays. We of course had with us our small travelling piano, which was securely lashed-up in one of the hinder compartments. Here we juniors - under the paternal direction - held daily and nightly practice of vocal scales, glees, and part-songs. No matter whether the vessel was rolling off Madeira, or stagnant for a week in the sweltering calm of the tropics, or wildly careering in a ten days' gale far south of the Cape, there was the same rigid rehearsal. On one occasion, in the height of a storm, each of us holding a candle and swaying our bodies to the varying angles of the vessel, there was a sudden pitch, a roll, and a crash of waters breaking upon the deck. My father was violently lurched off his camp-stool, and all of us huddled remorselessly into a corner amid black darkness and stench of extinguished wicks. While thus achieving a sufficient measure of "light and shade," it was somewhat difficult to import these qualities into our vocal numbers, so the rehearsal was that night abandoned in deference to the tempest. Otherwise, our ship-board life was not more eventful than commonly befalls the Australian voyager. We caught the usual albatross, and killed the customary shark. The passage, however, was exceptionally protracted, as it was not until dawn of a Sunday in June - when we had been all but a hundred days on board - that the "Ben Ledi" rounded Cape Otway, the mountainous promontory of the Victorian coast, and shortly afterwards entered Port Phillip Bay, at the head of which stood Melbourne, its towers and spires showing dimly through the dust that blew over the city. On the left lay the port of Williamstown, our desired haven, which was reached late in the afternoon. A short railway ride brought us to the city, and an Albert car conveyed us to Scott's hotel.
SingingRoundTheWorld - p96 - South Island NZ Of course there was a loud laugh at this story, which encouraged another man to burst out with "Ha, ha, ha - talking of drinking, the ship I came out in had a captain and mate who were continually quarrelling on the voyage. They fought it out in the log-book. The captain wrote down one evening, 'Mate drunk to-day,' which the mate no sooner saw next morning than he scribbled underneath, 'Captain sober to-day!' Had him there!" With stories like these the time passed pleasantly. The shores of the South Island became indistinct, and presently there was sighted the entrance to Port Nicholson, the harbour of Wellington - a rugged mouth, armed on the western shore by sharp rocky teeth, between which were sticking the bones of several vessels wrecked during a gale. Port Nicholson is seven miles long and five miles broad. Wellington is built on a fringe of land, backed by hills like Dunedin. It is the capital of New Zealand, and has 10,675 inhabitants. Imagine a timber-built metropolis! Wellington, being subject to earthquakes, is constructed entirely of wood. Grand towers, steeples, balconies, and shop-fronts are seen at every turn - all wooden, but having quite an "imposing" look even when you are close to them. We lived at the Empire Hotel, a building formerly a theatre, so there was plenty of space everywhere. The water of the harbour came close to the hotel and lapped the stone foundations, putting us greatly in mind of the amphibious houses of Lerwick, in Shetland. No one who intends making Wellington his home need be frightened at the earthquakes. The shocks at Wellington are as distinct from the earthquakes of South America as a breeze is from a typhoon. Wellington is the centre of atmospheric as well as terrestrial disturbances. The blasts blow over the harbour remorselessly. As a Dunedin man it is said, can be told by his stoop, as if climbing hills; so a Wellington man is known abroad by the mechanical way he screws up his eyes and claps his hand on his hat! Every night we saw about as queer a way of lighting street lamps as could well be imagined. A rattle of hoofs was heard and a man cantered up on horseback to a lamp-post. He drew bridle, rose up, stood on the saddle like a circus-rider, struck a match, lit the lamp, sank once more into the stirrups and galloped noisily off - the rapidly-increasing lights bearing testimony to the quickness of this novel system.
Here we saw Maories for the first time in any numbers. We met a native in velvet coat, light tweed trousers, and white hat, with silver-headed cane and heavy gold chain, and tattooed so that you could scarcely distinguish his eyes. He looked as if he owned thousands of acres, as perhaps he did, or as if he were a member of Parliament, as perhaps he was, for there are four Maories now in the Assembly - two on the Government benches, and two on the Opposition. Maories are worldly wise and take care of their broad acres, leasing them well or selling them at a goodly price. Many of the natives are rich, have large farms, and bring their crops to market as regularly as any of the settlers. The Maories are well-built fellows with brown skin, black straight hair, sharp eyes and high cheekbones. The older natives bear the tattoo marks. As for the women when young they have a kind of comeliness, but they age fast and are inveterate smokers.
PETER DOUGLAS KENNEDY, born 18th November 1922, comes of a family involved in the performance of local traditions going back five generations. His father, Douglas Kennedy, MBE, who became Director of The English Folk Dance Society following the death of Cecil Sharp in 1924, was the son of singing teacher, John Kennedy, and grandson of David Kennedy, the famous singer, who travelled with members of his family on sailing ships to Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada and the USA performing Lowland Scots ballads and folksongs to emigrant audiences. One of David's daughters was Marjorie Kennedy-Fraser, who collected, performed and published her extensive collection, "The Songs of the Hebrides". She was the first to sing with the Celtic minstrel harp and a founder of the Clarsach Society. When turning out her sister Margaret's house in Castle Street, Edinburgh, Peter discovered Aunt Marjorie's collection of Edison-Bell phonograph cylinders with the melodies of many now well-known Hebridean songs such as "The Road to the Isles" and "The Eriskay Love-Lilt".
Peter's mother, Helen Karpeles, was the first secretary of The English Folk Dance Society founded by Cecil Sharp, and her sister, Peter's aunt, Dr Maud Karpeles, OBE, worked with Sharp collecting The Folksongs of the Southern Appalachians, and after Sharp's death, The Folk-Songs of Newfoundland. The music and photographs of her collection were left to Peter as her executor. Peter was born close by Abbey Road Recording Studios, St John's Wood, London and went to Abinger Hill, an experimental Dalton System School, near Dorking, Surrey followed by Leighton Park School in Reading run by The Society of Friends. At the time of the fall of France Peter left to assist his parents who were looking after refugees on the Isle of Man, though under age, driving pharmaceutical and other essential supplies. At first a conscientious objector he worked on farms in Herefordshire and Cheshire, trained as a tractor driver in Hertfordshire, and then worked on the effect of mustard gas on crops at the Rothamsted Experimental Station at Harpenden.
His passion as a child was an interest in the technical side of theatre, lighting, noises off, make-up, stage design and management. Since there was then no specialist college, he was advised by film director, Gabriel Pascal, to attend The Architectural Association School which had been evacuated to Hadley Common, Barnet. After two years, when he had passed the Intermediate level, at 17, he was conscripted and joined the RAF and was selected for the Combined Services Intelligence Service as a modelmaker, known as a "Pattern Maker Architectural". After "square-bashing" at Blackpool during Wakes Week, he was posted to RAF Medmenham, and based at Phyllis Court Club, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire. When America entered the war he helped train a USAF team which had been recruited from Walt Disney Studios. Working from maps, stereo aerial photographs and pre-war holiday snapshots, his unit prepared bombing and landing targets including those used by the famous "Dambusters". After preparing the models for the North African landings, Peter and his unit boarded a troopship at Liverpool, and after being followed all the way by German U-boats, they landed in Algiers, later moving to the Allied HQ at Sidi Bou Said near Tunis.
Peter frequently visited Arab pipers and after one such visit, coming out of the Casbah was held by the Army Military Police who were unable to believe his story. During the invasion of Sicily, Peter flew as a tail-gunner in an American Flying Fortress, afterwards, when his unit moved to Italy, he drove a lorry-load of photographic equipment . Landing on a beach just outside Naples, Peter tried to get details of minefields from an Italian Major standing on the shore who called out: "Latino a scuola?". This incident was the beginning of his, at that time, frown-on "fraternisation with the locals" which led to him speaking Italian and eventually teaching the other members of his unit. While stationed at San Severo near Foggia in Puglia, after modelling the succession of river valleys all the way up the Adriatic coast, Peter would deliver them to the front and, though driving through country for the first time, experienced an extraordinary sensation of "déjà vu". When hostilities came to an end in Italy, Peter formed a Theatre Company drawing on the American and British Army and Air Force personnel in the unit, they travelled extensively, frequently performing with their scenery propped up on stages on top of wine-barrels.
After demobilisation Peter decided not to continue his architectural or theatrical studies but decided to follow his parents line of business, working as a folk music entrepreneur. He studied and became a drummer in his parents "Folk Dance Band". After training with the Society he became the Societies first post-war representative covering Northumberland, Durham and Yorkshire sharing an office with The Central Council of Physical Recreation at 16 Market Street, Durham. He was introduced to local traditional musicians by Jack Armstrong and Lady Trevelyan at Cambo and soon discovered that there the local villages dances seemed far removed from the English folk dances being taught by the Folk Dance Society. Since Peter had played squeeze-box first on sailing barges prewar and combined this music with a bass foot drum and decided to tour the villages and clubs running his own Village Barn Dances. He ran hundreds of such events in his area and this led to collecting a whole new repertoire of Reels, Quadrilles and Country Dances. After putting advertisements in local papers, receiving letters from pre-war champions including Jim Ellwood, he organised championships, putting up a silver belt which was won by a teenage miner called Jacky Toaduff. (Some years later, when Peter was teaching folk dancing at the Junior and Senior Depts of The Royal Ballet School, he brought Jackie down to London and fifty years later his revival of clog-dancing became the subject of the film, "Billy Elliott").
While working in the North-East organising Village Barn Dances, Peter became involved in radio and travelled to Bristol to take part as a drummer and a solo melodeon-player in the monthly "Everybody Swing" broadcasts from Bristol. In 1947 he was invited by Frank Gillard to join the BBC at Whiteladies Road in Bristol and, after training, worked on Music and Drama programmes under Natural History producer, Desmond Hawkins. While there he met Ludwig Koch and helped Desmond set up what has now become The Natural History Unit. During his training he also helped experiments using parabolic microphones to record bird-song and portable recording gear. In the meantime a friend, who was building a reel-to-reel tape recorder at the Scophony Baird factory near Wells in Somerset, loaned Peter a prototype on which he recorded the local shanty-singer, Stanley Slade, the last shellback to have sung working shanties "before the mast" on sailing ships and later to entertain passengers on steamships. Peter arranged for Stanley to be recorded by The Gramophone Company at Abbey Road but Stanley died a few days before he was due to go into the studio.
The death of Slade in 1950 highlighted the importance of tape-recording and, when Peter was further encouraged by his American counterpart, folk collector, Alan Lomax, Peter decided to leave the studios and go out free-lance, "in the field", recording local West Country traditions. Recognising the importance and urgency of recording local traditions, he set up his own mobile tape unit and equipped a small van with two car batteries and a voltage converter powering a specially adapted recorder and playback, with a Wearite "Ferrograph" deck. From 1949-1950 Peter arranged a series of West Country radio programmes, Village Barn Dance going to a different village every month. Living in a caravan, Peter unearthed local singers and storytellers in Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire. The dancing was to the music of his own eight-piece band, The Haymakers, which included four fiddlers, flute, accordion, guitar and drums. The MC's for the series were Ralph Wightman and Bernard Fishwick. Extracts of some of these programmes were included on Lomax's "World Library of Folk and Primitive Music" for Columbia Records (re-released by Rounder).
Peter's work in the North East and West Country now started to attract National interest and, his recordings were being copied onto discs for the BBC Sound Archive. In 1952 Lomax persuaded the BBC Recorded Programmes Library into a special project "to record for the Archive folk music, dialect and customs" and to employ him and Seamus Ennis of The Irish Folklore Commission.. Using his own specialised mobile equipment, he and Seamus travelled the length and breadth of Britain and Ireland seeking out traditional performers. It was Peter's idea in 1953, his choice of title and signature tune, that they should do a weekly radio magazine providing samples of their work, so Peter and Seamus embarked on a weekly Sunday morning series that was to continue for over ten years. In those days asking informants irf they knew any folk songs would not have been understood, so they used to ask for any songs that started with opening phrases like "As I roved out" and this became the title of the series. The signature tune made use of a recording he had made of the Irish singer, Sarah Makem, at Keady in Co Armagh. It was on this same first trip to Northern Ireland that he recorded Frank McPeake singing and accompanying himself on the Irish Uillean bagpipes, including the now well-known "Wild Mountain Thyme" or "Will you go, lassie go?" For Peter this was remarkable because only a few days previously, at a festival in Croatia, Peter had been recording a Serbian bard also singing to his own bagpipes. (Peter's recordings in Yiugoslavia have now being released on two CDs by Rounder Records)
Over the next 20 years Peter continued his fieldwork, taking part in hundreds of broadcasts on radio and educational TV and editing commercial and educational recordings. His films Wake up and Dance, Walk in St George, Oss Oss Wee Oss and One Potao Two Potato all won prizes and Peter edited The Unesco International Folk Film Catalogue. He has many "firsts": the first to bring together and record folk-singers Ewan McColl, Bert Lloyd, Martin Carthy; making the first LPs of groups like the Dubliners and Liverpool Spinners; organising the first Post-war National Folk Festival at Keele University and the first post-war Television broadcast of ballad traditions, introduced by Alan Lomax and produced by David Attenborough from Alexandra Palace on June 26th 1953. Over the last 25 years Peter has put together over 400 audio and video programmes of traditional music and customs, available on his own label.