Kemp, Father (Robert J.)
- Judith Tick
(b Wellfleet, MA, June 6, 1821; d Boston, MA, May 15, 1897). American showman and conductor. He was a shoe merchant and an amateur musician, who devised a highly successful format for the type of entertainment known as the Old-folks concert. Father Kemp’s Old Folks Concert Troupe added theatrical devices to the basic musical repertory of 18th-century psalmody: performers, appearing in period costume, gave impersonations of figures from the Revolution, and parodies in appropriate dialect of old-fashioned theatrical acts. Kemp’s first troupe was formed from his Opera Class Chorus in Reading, Massachusetts; its début was on 6 December 1855, and its first Boston concert on 13 March 1856. Regular concerts were given in New York, Philadelphia, Washington, and Boston between 1856 and 1866, and the troupe went on a tour of the West in the 1858–9 season. The climax of Kemp’s career was his tour of England in ...