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Hootenannys, history and such

GUEST,equalrice 18 Aug 01 - 09:45 PM
Don Firth 19 Aug 01 - 02:03 AM
Don Firth 19 Aug 01 - 02:20 AM
toadfrog 19 Aug 01 - 02:46 AM
paddymac 19 Aug 01 - 07:27 AM
McGrath of Harlow 19 Aug 01 - 10:00 AM
Suffet 19 Aug 01 - 10:13 AM
Barbara Shaw 19 Aug 01 - 08:08 PM
GUEST 19 Aug 01 - 09:53 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 19 Aug 01 - 11:04 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 19 Aug 01 - 11:13 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 19 Aug 01 - 11:19 PM
Bill D 19 Aug 01 - 11:44 PM
Suffet 30 Aug 01 - 07:18 AM
Mark Clark 30 Aug 01 - 08:37 AM
Bill D 30 Aug 01 - 11:20 AM
Don Firth 30 Aug 01 - 01:32 PM
M.Ted 30 Aug 01 - 02:15 PM
Charley Noble 30 Aug 01 - 04:53 PM
BH 30 Aug 01 - 06:26 PM
Don Firth 31 Aug 01 - 12:40 AM
GUEST,.gargoyle 31 Aug 01 - 02:23 AM
katlaughing 31 Aug 01 - 03:04 AM
Suffet 13 Nov 01 - 06:43 PM
Joe Offer 13 Nov 01 - 08:14 PM
Lonesome EJ 13 Nov 01 - 09:17 PM
GUEST,Dingbat019@aol.com 14 Nov 01 - 02:18 AM
GUEST,Janice in NJ 14 Nov 01 - 05:38 PM
rich-joy 15 Nov 01 - 04:44 AM
Deckman 15 Nov 01 - 12:46 PM
GUEST,Janice in NJ 15 Nov 01 - 03:07 PM
Barbara Shaw 15 Nov 01 - 03:56 PM
Deckman 15 Nov 01 - 05:28 PM
GUEST,Claymore 16 Nov 01 - 12:32 PM
GUEST,Claymore 16 Nov 01 - 12:34 PM
Stilly River Sage 16 Nov 01 - 12:35 PM
GUEST,mg 16 Nov 01 - 01:03 PM
Deckman 16 Nov 01 - 04:06 PM
GUEST,Frank 16 Nov 01 - 05:02 PM
Don Firth 16 Nov 01 - 07:26 PM
Stilly River Sage 17 Nov 01 - 01:19 AM
Suffet 30 Nov 01 - 06:42 AM
Deckman 30 Nov 01 - 10:35 AM
harpgirl 30 Nov 01 - 07:35 PM
BH 01 Dec 01 - 07:41 PM
Suffet 02 Dec 01 - 07:45 AM
Deckman 02 Dec 01 - 04:29 PM
Deckman 02 Dec 01 - 06:02 PM
Don Firth 02 Dec 01 - 06:30 PM
Don Firth 02 Dec 01 - 06:32 PM
Deckman 02 Dec 01 - 07:38 PM
Don Firth 02 Dec 01 - 09:26 PM
Deckman 02 Dec 01 - 10:14 PM
Don Firth 03 Dec 01 - 03:18 AM
GUEST,Lori 04 Dec 01 - 04:36 PM
Deckman 04 Dec 01 - 07:40 PM
GUEST,Frank 05 Dec 01 - 12:10 PM
Don Firth 05 Dec 01 - 04:33 PM
Suffet 05 Dec 01 - 06:07 PM
Deckman 05 Dec 01 - 06:07 PM
Deckman 05 Dec 01 - 06:40 PM
Don Firth 06 Dec 01 - 01:54 AM
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Subject: Hootenannys, history and such
From: GUEST,equalrice
Date: 18 Aug 01 - 09:45 PM

Hi all,

I'm out here in S.F. and am putting together a monthly Hootenanny and would appreciate some guidance, suggestions, websites, memories, or any 'ol thing on the subject of hoots.

I know they were popular during the folk revival and that there was a t.v. show called "Hootenanny." How far back do they go? Where did they start? Is there any particular format that's followed? I'm especially interested in any collections of posters or promotional materials re hootenannys.

Thanks in advance!


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: Don Firth
Date: 19 Aug 01 - 02:03 AM

Of course, there was the old Spike Jones gag, "What do you get if you cross an owl with a nanny goat? A hootenanny!! Nyuk! Nyuk Nyuk!"

Up until the late Forties or so, the word "hootenanny" belonged to that collection of terms that people used when they couldn't think of the right word: like thingamabob, gizmo, and whatchamacallit. Another definition, in line with these, was "a noisy contrivance of questionable utility." This, perhaps, is getting a bit closer to the current definition.

In The Incompleat Folksinger (Seeger, Pete; The Incompleat Folksinger; Edited by. Jo Metcalf Schwartz; University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, 1992; p. 327), Pete Seeger says the following:

In the summer of 1941 Woody Guthrie and myself, calling ourselves the Almanac Singers, toured Seattle, Washington and met some of the good people of the Washington Commonwealth Federation, the New Deal political club headed by Hugh DeLacy. They arranged for us to sing for trade unions in the Puget Sound area, and then proudly invited us to their next "hootenanny." It was the first time we had heard the term. It seems they had a vote to decide what they would call their monthly fund-raising parties. "Hootenanny" won out by a nose over "wingding."

The Seattle hootenannies were real community affairs. One family would bring a whole pot of some dish like crab gumbo. Others would bring cakes, salads. A drama group performed topical skits, a good 16-mm film might be shown, and there would be dancing, swing and folk, for those of sound limb. And, of course, there would be singing.

Woody and I returned to New York, where we rejoined the other Almanac Singers, and lived in a big house, pooling all our income. We ran Saturday afternoon rent parties, and without a second's thought started calling them hootenannies, after the example of our west-coast friends. Seventy-five to one hundred Gothamites would pay 35 cents each to listen to an afternoon of varied folk songs, topical songs, and union songs, not only from the Almanacs but from Huddie Ledbetter, Josh White, the Mechau family, and many many others--including members of the audience.


Pete goes on to describe the spread of hootenannies and the dissemination of the term "hootenanny," along with the evolution and devolution of both; hootenannies organized by Ed McCurdy in New York, and Win Stracke's "gather-alls" in Chicago; then, in 1963, the peremptory appropriation of the word "hootenanny" for commercial exploitation by ABC-TV and other promoters and carpetbaggers.

Most of the "hoots" I attended in the Fifties and Sixties were held in somebody's private home, but they were basically open—come one, come all, sing or just listen. Solo singing, group songs, whatever the people who came wanted to do. Some of them were held in halls of one sort or another and were more like informal, free-for-all concerts. They were generally pretty unstructured, with no formal program.

The commercialism of the Sixties pretty much ran hootenannies into the ground, but it's high time the good, old fashioned hootenannies got going again. Go to it!!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: Don Firth
Date: 19 Aug 01 - 02:20 AM

Incidentally, my copy of The Incompleat Folksinger was published in 1992, a reprint. It was first published by Simon and Schuster, N.Y., 1972.

More info on hootenannies as it occurs to me.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: toadfrog
Date: 19 Aug 01 - 02:46 AM

In the fifties, hoots were parties in private homes, ant the people knew each other. A folk club would have an very different feel.

My father, a career Army officer, attended intelligence school in 1946. He told me later that he had learned that where other people had parties, Communists had hootenannies.


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: paddymac
Date: 19 Aug 01 - 07:27 AM

Gee - all the things you ever wanted to know about folk but never thought to ask. Fascinating stuff from a serendipitous synergism. Great thread idea!


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 19 Aug 01 - 10:00 AM

I'd say the thing itself needs to come back, but I suspect the name wouldn't work yet awhile. "Hooley" might go down better.


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: Suffet
Date: 19 Aug 01 - 10:13 AM

The word "hootenanny" could just mean a thing, like a "whatchyamacallit," as in "Gimme that long hootenanny and I'll git yer terlit unclogged faster'n than two jack rabbits f---in'!"

Read other messages above how the term came to apply to folk music events. I used to go to the Broadside hoots at Sis Cunningham & Gordon Friesen's big appartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in New York City in the 1960's. Cost 50 cents, later a dollar. I got to meet Pete Seeger and Rev. Frederick D. Kirkpatrick, sometimes even Phil Ochs.

I never thought for a moment that hootenannies ever stopped; folkies just stopped using that word. And even so it pops up every once in a while. For example, every March I go to Rochester, NY, to participate in what is called a Hootenanny, Pizza Party, and Stamp Swap. It's hosted by the New York Philatelic Bandits. We're a group of people who share a mutual interest in both folk music and stamp collecting. We even sing songs about stamp collecting. Honest, I'm not putting you on.

Also, the Peoples Music Network round-robin concerts are essentially hootenannies. So are many of the Clearwater events, such as the annual Pumpkin Sail concerts and the Ships to Save the Waters mini-concerts at Liberty State Park last year. So are some of the open microphones, jam sessions, open sings, song circles, etc., that are mentioned here on Mudcat and elsewhere.

I like the term hootenanny. It's time we resurrected it.

--- Steve


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: Barbara Shaw
Date: 19 Aug 01 - 08:08 PM

The Branford Folk Music Society of Branford, CT (USA) has a "house hoot" every month from September to June. I've been going and also hosting for several years. We still call them hoots, but without nanny.


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Aug 01 - 09:53 PM

Thanks everybody. Keep those tidbits coming. Special thaks to Mr. Firth. Just spied the Seeger book at the library. Guess I'd better have a look see.

Cheers,

Richard Rice equalrice@yahoo.com


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 19 Aug 01 - 11:04 PM

Participated in a couple in the late 60's. Even an accordian player (myself) was welcome. No drugs/no alcohol, just a rolicking good time until the wee hours of the morning. Since we were all amatures we called it a "Nanny-Hoot."

The following is from the Random House Dictionary of American Slang: 1997 p. 150 which notes that the origin is unknown.

2.b. a performance of folk music, esp. by a number of artists with a degree of audience participation. Now coloq. 1957 P. Seeger, in Sing Out (Winter) 34:Another took a tape recorder with her and set up small hootenannies in country stores, and recorded the singing. *1960 Seeger & MacColl Singing Island 1: The kind of songs which are delighting audiences at concerts and hootenannies up and down Great Britain. 1963 P. Tamony, in West. Folklore (July) Under four sponsorships, over seventy-five programs of folk song were presented [in New York City] under the "Hootenanny" title between 1941 and 1960. 1975 Greer Slammer 39: I suppose that means guitars and hootenannies in my chapel. 1988 B.E. Wheeler Outhouse Humor 14: I was singing at a hootenanny.


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 19 Aug 01 - 11:13 PM

As a bibliophile the follow site has yielded personal treasures to my collection:

The word "hootenanny" in the search engine at: http://www.abebooks.com produced these three titles for immediate sale.

1. PALMER HUGHES PALMER HUGHES HOOTENANNY ALFRED, C1964 TRADE WRAPS. LARGE NAME COVER. GOOD PLUS. ACCORDION . Bookseller Inventory # 884424 Price: US$ 34.50 convert currency Presented by Book Look, Warwick, NY, U.S.A.

2. Silber, Irwin, comp & ed Hootenanny Song Book Consolidated Music Publishers, 1963 Reprints from Sing Out!..165 traditional & contemporary folk songs..With tunes, melody line only, folio, stiff wraps, rubbed; spine sun-bleached. Bookseller Inventory # 5697 Price: US$ 25.00 convert currency Presented by Irene Rouse-Bookseller, Atlantic, VA, U.S.A.

3. Abernethy, Francis Edward and Satterwhite, Carolyn Fiedler Ass't editor, Illustrated by photos THE TEXAS FOLKLORE SOCIETY 1943-1971 Volume II Denton, TX: University North Texas Press, 1994 HB. 1st ed. 8vo, 320 pp, wrap-around dj VG+/VG+, red cl bds w/blk ltrs, tan-brn-blk color pictorial, VG+ Publications of the Texas Folklore Society LIII. Book has the publishing history of the TFS books, ancedotes about the gatherings of the Society & the emphasis on singing beginning at Society gatherings. Bookseller Inventory # 010326 Price: US$ 34.95 convert currency Presented by Curio Corner Books, Austin, TX, U.S.A. order options


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 19 Aug 01 - 11:19 PM

If you are anything like me....buy the book....you will save it in book-fines....and refer to it throughout the rest of your life.

abe.com shows 51 copies of The Incompleat Folksinger currently for sale...with a range frin $8.50 to $100.00. U.S.


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: Bill D
Date: 19 Aug 01 - 11:44 PM

and this site being what it is, putting 'hootenanny' in the search box will get you MANY threads....like this one where it is all discussed...

I have been considering having a few 'real' hootenannies again, myself...it's been many years since I attended one CALLED that..


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Subject: Shameless self-promotion
From: Suffet
Date: 30 Aug 01 - 07:18 AM

And now for some truly shameless self-promotion!

THE RETURN OF THE HOOTENANNY!

An evening of good old fashioned foot stomping folk music fun. Some traditional, some contemporary, some in-between. Featuring...

Joel Landy € Frank Woerner € Jessica Feinbloom € Steve Suffet

Sun Music Company
340 East 71st Street, between 1st & 2nd Avenues
On the snazzy Upper East Side of Manhattan
New York City

Saturday, December 1, 2001
8 PM
$10 admission

Come prepared to sing along, clap, whoop, holler, and shout. Spoons and tambourines welcome. Sorry, no dancing in the aisles permitted!


--- Steve


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: Mark Clark
Date: 30 Aug 01 - 08:37 AM

I'm dismayed to learn that there could be a hootennany without alcohol. The hoots I used to attend in the late fifties and early sixties included quantities of excellent homebrew. No intoxication, except perhaps for the dog, just great times.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: Bill D
Date: 30 Aug 01 - 11:20 AM

Hootenannies with 'featured' performers? ..and an admission charge? *wry grin*...how times have changed...*sigh* We had 'em in a house...rolled back the rug, made popcorn & hot cider, and you weren't invited unless you 'heard' about it. Maybe the definition varied with location, like Folk Music.


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: Don Firth
Date: 30 Aug 01 - 01:32 PM

I hesitated doing this because this makes for a heck of a long post, but I decided that this may possibly be of some value to anyone interested in the history of hootenannies, and in trying to organize them (although, in my experience, "organizing a hootenanny" is sort of a contradiction in terms).

For some time I have been writing personal reminiscences of the folk music scene in Seattle and elsewhere during the Fifties and Sixties. Not a history. That, I'm afraid, would be a "four blind men and an elephant" operation, so what I'm doing is more of a memoir—my own personal observations.

The scene opens in The Chalet, a restaurant (no longer in existence) half a block off the University of Washington campus. The year is what? Late 1952 or early 1953.

*---------------------------------------------------*

A fencing compatriot and fellow folk song enthusiast named Chuck Canady and I sat in The Chalet one evening with Walt and a couple of other people, when Ken Prichard came over to Walt [Robertson] and said, "I just had a great idea. Let's have a hootenanny. A good, old-fashioned hootenanny. We can have it right here at The Chalet."

Walt broke into a huge smile.

"Fa-a-a-antastic!" he responded.

Let's have a . . . what?

I had heard the term before, along with thingamabob, gizmo, whatchamacallit, and other expressions you use when you can't think of the word you really want. Obviously there was some further meaning attached to the word to which I was not privy.

"What, pray tell," I inquired, "is a 'hootenanny?'"

"It's a sort of free-for-all folk sing," Ken explained. "Some of the old time hootenannies were rallies or union organizing meetings, but basically, you just gather a bunch of folksingers and other people together and a whole lot of singing happens."

Chuck Canady was familiar with the term. He further explained, "The dictionary definition of 'hootenanny,'—that is, if you can find the word in any dictionary—is 'a noisy contrivance of questionable utility.' That just about sums it up," he grinned.

They allowed about a week or ten days to spread the word, and then we had a hootenanny at The Chalet. The first of many.

About fifty to seventy-five people came. Most came to listen and/or sing along. Many people brought instruments of one kind or another. There was Walt with his 12-string, Claire with her Washburn, and me with my Regal. Bob Clark brought a guitar. This surprised me at first. His left hand was missing a thumb, and first and second fingers. He had reversed the strings on the guitar and held it pointing the other way. Mirror image. He played chords with his right hand, and with the two remaining fingers of his left, he deftly managed a pick. Chuck Canady brought the first 5-string banjo I had ever seen. He wasn't sure how to play it, but he whacked away at it inventively. There were a few other six string guitars of various kinds: steel string guitars, f-hole jazz guitars, nylon string classic guitars, and a couple four string tenor guitars. An autoharp or two showed up, along with a few musical contraptions that no one could put a name to.

I got the pattern fairly quickly. Someone would just launch into a song, and almost everyone else would sing along or play along or both. On some songs, like quiet love songs or ballads, people usually just listened. These songs were generally better suited to a solo voice. I knew enough chords to at least play along with many of the songs, if the person who led the song also accompanied it on the guitar and sat where I could watch his or her left hand.

There was one song I knew all the words to and was sure of: The Fox. I was waiting my chance to jump in.

Then someone yelled, "Hey, Walt, sing The Fox."

He did. I couldn't even follow along. The 12-string was tuned about a major third below the other guitars (I didn't know that then) and I didn't have a clue as to what chords Walt was playing.

That's the way it goes.

Bob and Ken had laid out several kinds of bread, along with a variety of cheeses and cold cuts. There were bottles of different kinds fruit juice, and always a fresh pot of coffee. No price tags on anything, just a small basket for contributions to the good of the house; self-service and honor system.

As I recall, people began drifting in at about seven-thirty. We started singing at eight or so. And we didn't finish up until well after midnight.

Again, I heard many songs I had never heard before. Wonderful stuff. My guitar playing took a quantum jump after that night also. Several hours of playing along and trying to follow what more accomplished guitarists were doing really stretched my ability. But the following day, I could feel every molecule of air that passed over my left hand fingertips.

* * *

The hootenanny at The Chalet in 1953 was the first of many.

Some of them were in sizable halls. Back then, the University Friends Meeting House was on 15th Avenue N. E., south of Eagleson Hall, and since Claire and Walt and several others were Quakers, using the place for some of the big ones was no problem. Others were held in the big lounge on the main floor of Eagleson Hall. Both the Friends Meeting House and Eagleson Hall were suitable for small (and some not so small) concerts as well as hootenannies. Another location, particularly for concerts, was the auditorium cum meeting room in the basement of Wesley House.

There were other available locations. Smaller ones held in private homes began happening with greater frequency. As time progressed and the number of enthusiasts grew, rarely would more than a few weekends pass without someone offering a place and declaring a hootenanny.

Some of the ones we referred to as hootenannies (or "hoots" for short) might not have met somebody's strict definition. Often they were unannounced and spur-of-the-moment. Three or four people, who happened to have their instruments with them just in case, would run into each other at The Chalet, or at Howard's Restaurant, or at the Blue Moon Tavern. After a phone call or two, some benevolent soul would volunteer a living room. An instant phone tree would form and calls would be made to find out who else was game. Shortly afterward, a dozen or so people would gather at the specified location and the singing would start. As the evening progressed, more people would show up. All of this may have been hatched up and implemented in the course of forty-five minutes.

The cork had been pulled. The folk music genie was out of the bottle.

*---------------------------------------------------*

At the time, I was twenty-two years old and I'd been playing the guitar and singing for about six months. Good times!

To respond to Mark Clark, as long as you had something to wet your whistle with, booze didn't seem to be that essential. Nevertheless, except for the hoots at the Friends Meeting House, Wesley House, and Eagleson Hall (the U. of W. YM/YWCA), drinkables were usually in good supply. Bob Clark brewed his own beer and he usually brought large quantities of that (I've written a whole separate piece about Bob's home brew, but that's sort of off the subject here), and there was plenty of the store-bought stuff—wine and/or beer, rarely the hard stuff. With very few exceptions, I can't recall anyone ever getting smashed. Not did I see any evidence of drugs—until well into the Sixties when the whole thing started to fizzle out.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: M.Ted
Date: 30 Aug 01 - 02:15 PM

Don,

I loved that--it gave me a better idea than I had ever had about not just what had happened, or where it happened, but how it felt--keep writing!


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: Charley Noble
Date: 30 Aug 01 - 04:53 PM

Great, Don. I'm e-mailing your story to another of my old Seattle folk music friends.


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: BH
Date: 30 Aug 01 - 06:26 PM

Without getting into the definition and/or history of HOOTENANNY I would like to have people from this area---and to spread the word of her to others---remember the late Lil Appel. A wonderful person who lived in Rockland County, NY and had monthly get togethers ("hoots?" )at her house till she passed away. Performers and non performers (such as I) were welcome and everyone contributed some music---in my case I recited poetry (did not want to clear the room with my tonal abilities--or non-abilities.

SHe did not have House Concerts---she had great monthly gatherings of people sharing music.

Bill Hahn


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: Don Firth
Date: 31 Aug 01 - 12:40 AM

Well, BH, I'd say that qualifies. There was a fellow around Seattle named Elmar Lanczos who was always game to host a hoot, and sometimes we inhabited his living room for several weekends in a row. He didn't sing himself, but he was an avid folk music enthusiast and had a record collection that everyone wanted to borrow from. If you were careful with records, he would let you. He died several years ago from bone cancer. His wife, Alice, doesn't sing either, but she hosts hoots frequently. I don't know Lil Appel or anything about her other than what you have said, but I think folks like this are priceless!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 31 Aug 01 - 02:23 AM

Well Done!!!! Mr. Firth

A truly memorable journey. It touched the spirit and glow that was still alive in a decade and half later...when I experienced mine. Thank You!!!


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: katlaughing
Date: 31 Aug 01 - 03:04 AM

Don, as I've said before, I wanna copy of the book when you are done! The gems you've shared here are priceless. Thanks for another great one!

kat


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Subject: The hoot returns
From: Suffet
Date: 13 Nov 01 - 06:43 PM

That's right folks, the good old fashioned hootenanny returns to New York City on December 1, 2001.

Remember those wonderful days in a dimly lit, smoke filled Greenwich Village coffee house 40 years ago? You paid 50 cents to get in, and what you heard was an eclectic bunch of performers, all ready to sing their hearts out, not because they had dreams of stardom, but because they imagined they had something to say. A typical cast of characters included the following:

* The Earth Mama who sang about the changing seasons with sensual delight.

* The Crusty Old Sailor with his squeezebox who led the audience in rollicking chanteys.

* The Angry Young Man who railed against the wrongs of the world.

* The Jewish Boy from Brooklyn who had somehow sprouted an Oklahoma accent and sang about cowboys and freight trains.

Well, now is your chance to relive that experience, with a few minor adjustments. The lighting has improved, if only marginally. Smoking is not permitted. We've moved from the Village to the Upper East Side. And you'll have to pay 10 bucks to get in. But the cast of characters remains unchanged. To wit:

* Jessica Feinbloom as the Earth Mama.

* Frank Woerner as the Crusty Old Sailor.

* Joel Landy as the Angry Young Man.

* Steve Suffet as the Jewish Boy from Brooklyn.

Also expect a few guest performers, such as Gina Tlamsa on violin and flute, Henry Oelkers on washtub bass, and Robert Cangiano on back-up vocals.

Here are the where and when:

Saturday, December 1, 2001
8:00 PM
Sun Music Company
340 East 71st Street, just west of 1st Avenue
Manhattan, New York City

Admission: $10.

Doors open at 7:30 PM.

Light refreshments available.

Come prepared to sing along, clap, whoop, holler, and shout. Tambourines and spoons welcome. Sorry, dancing in the aisles is not permitted.

For information please call (212) 396-9521.


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: Joe Offer
Date: 13 Nov 01 - 08:14 PM

During the summer months, Harry Tuft hosts a Hootenanny at the Swallow Hill Music Association in Denver. It's a "pay or play" situation - $3 admission unless you volunteer to perform a song or two. Harry MC's the show and carries it along with songs to fill in any gaps (makes the show go along very smoothly.

I don't think the San Francisco Folk Music Club (sffmc.org) has anything you would call a hootenanny, but you might want to check their home page (click) to see what they have to offer. There's a song circle at Faith Petric's house every two weeks, and a number of other activities in SF and the East Bay. There's also a sea chantey sing at Hyde Street Pier on the first Saturday of the month, which I think is not connected with the SF Folk Music Club. Although I have enjoyed many SFFMC activities, let me say gently that there are some who say it might be good to have some SF folk activities that are independent of the SFFMC.

-Joe Offer, Sacramento-


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 13 Nov 01 - 09:17 PM

Swallow Hill's pay-or-play Hoot is great, but I like the song circle concept better...every one sits together, everyone plays along, no one is "on stage". That is the great thing about the Mudcat get-togethers, and a thing which gets back to the basics of traditional music, in my humble opinion - the breakdown of barriers between performer and audience in favor of a shared participatory experience. Mudcattennany?

Great story, Don!


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: GUEST,Dingbat019@aol.com
Date: 14 Nov 01 - 02:18 AM

back in the sixtys here in Chicago ,IL. there was a lot of hootenannies as I remember there was no strong dinks served .I never got to go to one Since me and my clique were always working we were Carhops (served the food to the cars on trays) We realy had fun all of us carhops were friends and were all happy nice and funny , we didnt make much money, but we were young and fun was more important Then there was ole town on Wells street near downton chicago. where all the flower children and hippies strolled around some with thier guitars on thier back and holes in the seat of thier pants some were patched so only a little of the hole showed. Talk about the fiftys being good so were the sixtys, seventys, eightys , and I'm still trying to figure out the ninetys Kathleen (Turner) Mchugh


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: GUEST,Janice in NJ
Date: 14 Nov 01 - 05:38 PM

Fellow Jerseyites take heed! It's well worth the transfluvial trek to attend Steve's hoot on the first of December. If the past is any indication, it promises to be a hoot and a half. And yes, I do recall those Green-Witch Village days quite fondly.


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: rich-joy
Date: 15 Nov 01 - 04:44 AM

There is a book entitled "HOOT! : A 25 year History of the Greenwich Village Music Scene" by Robbie Woliver via St Martin's Press NY in 1986 or so, that of course goes into it all.
I do recall Sheb Woolley singing the "Hootenanny Hoot" song on the hit parade and me desperately wanting to see the movie, but it was 1963 and I was merely a 12 year old - and in Western Oz, was not allowed out on my own!!! (Wonder if it's out on video by now??!!!)


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: Deckman
Date: 15 Nov 01 - 12:46 PM

I've really been enjoying this topic, but I haven't had an opportunity to post before. OH BOY ... HOOTS! What a subject. Some time ago I thought about writing somthing in detail about hoots. After reading these postings, I remember now that there always has been a basic differance between the Hootenanny on the East Coast, and our version in Seattle, and pretty much the West Coast. I remember reading, early on, that back in the early fifities back East, it was common to rent a large hall, charge admission, and 'stage' a hoot. Out here, we were always much more informal. Most of us were not very affluent and the thought of charging admission seemed elitist, if not offensive. As the hoot (the term hootenanny died out early) quickly became a tradition here, most of the reguliar participants became quite protective of the scene. In those early days, Seattle was a strong hot bed of many musicians, folk and otherwise, and many venues and opportunites to perform. Yet it was at hoots that we honed our skills and sharpened out knowledge level ... to say nothing of building strong friendships. And it certainly was as Don said, very drug free. There was the perennial jug of red wine, but we rarely saw an excess. If that did happen, the offender was ostracized for a bit. As hoots grew, there became reguliar 'hoot houses', such as the late Almar Lanczos. Almar used to get a bit ticked off occasionally when he decided occasionally to use his house for other purposes. On a Saturday night and would arrive home to find all of us singing up a storm. (I was a carpenter then and you know ... you can NEVER keep a carpenter out of a house)! I remember once that he asked me to install all new locksets, which I did. Somehow I guess I forget to return all the master keys to him. Anyway, hoots were, and still are, a most wonderful part of my life.


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: GUEST,Janice in NJ
Date: 15 Nov 01 - 03:07 PM

Alas, all I recall from my wayward childhood are East Coast hoots. I didn't make my way to the Left Coast until the age when the very use of the word "hootenanny" brought smirks at best and cat calls at worst. And, it's true you had to pay to get in, at least in New York. But the usually price of admission was 50 cents or a dollar, and for that there was a better than even chance you would hear one or more of the following: Len Chandler, Phil Ochs, Tom Paxton, Happy Traum, Dave Van Ronk, Fred Neil, David Cohen, Odetta, even Pete Seeger.


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: Barbara Shaw
Date: 15 Nov 01 - 03:56 PM

Well, I'm on the East Coast (CT) and never paid to go to a hoot, although I never went to the ones in NYC.

The Branford Folk Music Society, which started in 1973, still has hoots; in fact they're at my house every other month. There's no admission charge. People bring a snack or dessert to share, lots of guitars and a few fiddles, mandolins, banjos, much camaraderie and much singing. It's a song circle, and the first round has a theme picked by the host, with topics such as trains or waltzes or the color blue or whatever.

I attended them for years before I ever started playing guitar and fiddle. Many people in the regular circle are members of bands or perform solo or with a partner, and some are die-hard amateurs, all equally welcome. The music is sometimes wonderful, the people are always wonderful. Long live hoots.

The coffeehouse scene, on the other hand, has always charged admission, and that may be what some people are remembering. I recall a distinct schism between the hippies / drug culture and the folkies / juice culture.

During my one time in a coffeehouse in the late 60's, I remember women knitting in the audience, Joan Baez types on the dimly lit stage, and wholesome muffins and juice for refreshments. Afterwards, I remember a friend trying to teach me "Codeine" and finger-picking on his guitar. Now, many years later, I serve muffins and juice and flat-pick bluegrass on my own guitar.


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: Deckman
Date: 15 Nov 01 - 05:28 PM

OOOOOPS! I have read the previous two postings, as well as my own. I DID NOT mean to imply that there was (is) anything wrong to charge for hoots. It simply is an accepted difference in style. I loved the comment referring to the "left Coast" instead of West Coast ... quite accurate in my opinion. After all, we had Harry Bridges organizing the longshoreman in San Francisco, and we had more die hard communists, who couldn't organize a fire drill, than Gus Hall even knew about! CHEERS, Bob


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: GUEST,Claymore
Date: 16 Nov 01 - 12:32 PM

In the early sixties in Hawaii, we held our hootenannies at the beach, at the end of a long day of surfing, messing with girls etc. My senior class president was (the) Bette Midler, and most of us were military brats whose fathers were stationed there, (Navy/Marines at Pearl, Air Force at Hickham, Army at Schofield etc.) so there were many and varied musical backgrounds.

The term "hootenanny" lasted about as long as the songs "Where have All the Fowers Gone?" and "Kum by yah". Folk music was popular in the Islands and at that time, all the great acts (KT, PPM, Joan, Bob, Odetta, Joe and Eddie, Bud and Travis etc.) made the trip out to play. There was always a "military rate" at the concerts so we were able to catch most of the shows at reasonable rates (" Grass-cutting money").

Most of the kids knew about Viet Nam long before any one in the States, when Alverez was shot down over Hanoi and his son went to our high school. When the protest songs began coming out, they left a sour note in our mouths, and they were popularly known as "tantum songs" (ie. "The world doesn't know how smart I am, 'bout things I've never done, in places I never seen" [chorus] All together now! "Whine, Whine, Whine...").

Interestingly, the folk music rebirth was killed in the cradle by a Dixie land jazz era that was short lived. I recall a musical piece call "Washington Square", followed by "American Patrol" and "St. James Infirmery Blues". After that, it was "Let there be Drums", the TelStars, Surfing music and then the Beatles.

But even now, everyone knows the words to "Kum by yah"...


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: GUEST,Claymore
Date: 16 Nov 01 - 12:34 PM

errata: the word should be "tantrum"


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 16 Nov 01 - 12:35 PM

Bob,

I remember Almar--from occasional hoots at our home in Everett on Rucker Hill. Earlier than that is fuzzy, but we moved from West Seattle in 1965, and I think Dad was doing coffee houses prior to that, and certainly taking lessons from Don. There was a coffee house called the Corraboree that spawned hoots.

Does Seattle Song Circle come in under a different heading than hoot? Because of the regular scheduling of it, or the smaller group?

m


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 16 Nov 01 - 01:03 PM

I think a song circle can be quite similar but is more structured to allow everyone a chance. That is the up side. The downside is you don't get the freeflowing leap from song to song...and then you have the dreaded BB problem, which postceeds the hoot era. I say again, you can't sing and read at the same time...you can do one well, or the other well..but not both. And if you want good music you have to address the bb problem. mg


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: Deckman
Date: 16 Nov 01 - 04:06 PM

Hi Maggie ... While the Seattle Circle has a lot of "hoot" characteristics, song circles also have several definate differances. (as I recall, your late Father was one of the founders of the Seattle Song Circle). A song circle has a strong everybody come, everybody sing atmosphere which is very welcoming and is great for learning new stuff, and making new friends. Also, the "circle" tends to be a rather formal event, where you are certainly encouraged to keep to the circle format. At a hoot, it's usually much more informal and spontaneous. At hoots, a theme of certain songs might evolve, and the singers might jump in, in no particuliar order if they are inclined. Also, at many hoots, you'll find one kind of music in the living room, maybe the bluegrassers are out in the garage, the backyard might be full of the blues players. (and we won't talk about what's going on upstairs)! CHEERS, Bob


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: GUEST,Frank
Date: 16 Nov 01 - 05:02 PM

Pete once told me that he envisioned a hootenannh as a gathering that contained audience participation as an important part. He thought that any kind of music could be done as long as it involved singing or participation.

We even talked about having jazz groups improvise while the audience sings a counter-line.

The inclusion of aueience participation defines it.

Frank


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: Don Firth
Date: 16 Nov 01 - 07:26 PM

Hoots (as Bob describes them above) are a singer/audience situation. Lots of people come just to listen, but if they suddenly feel moved to join in or sing something, all the better. It's just that instead of everybody sitting in a circle and taking turns, everybody sits wherever they can find a spot. The singers and audience are all mixed together, and whoever sings next is generally whoever wants to sing next.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 17 Nov 01 - 01:19 AM

Bob, Don, and all,

I've been to hoots, I just haven't been to the song circle except a couple of occasions when they were very sparsely attended so I couldn't really take their measure. I remember the evolution of ideas through songs at hoots, like a wave of energy flowing through the room. You could often anticipate what was coming next, and who would suggest it, yet every hoot was different and from one to the next, the same songs would inspire difference responses.

On the occasion I most recently attended a song circle, I observed the odious "Blue Book" in action, and understood why dad objected to it being used when a song was being sung. To really do justice to the song, you have to know it well enough to sing it spontaneously, to make eye contact, and to sing to the room, not down to the book that you're reading the words from. This is how one places oneself in the position to interpret the song and adjust according to whim and audience.

There is a correlation in this to many kinds of "performance," whether singing or teaching. I worked for many years as an interpretive naturalist/historian for the National Park Service, where it is considered extremely bad form to memorize your program or tour or whatever interpretive offering it is you're conducting. An extemporaneous talk, based on information you've mastered, is much more interesting and versatile to all concerned. As is the performance of a song. How many verses do you feel like singing, which variants, can you get a little blue (not sad!) and get away with it? Coy? Funny? Sad, thoughtful, etc. This isn't to say you can't glance at a page if you've forgotten the first line of a verse (who doesn't now and again?), but I'm sure I'm not the only one who finds it agonizing to listen to someone read a song instead of really sing it. And I expect I'd better get off of my soapbox, because I'm preaching to the choir!

And remembering now the Park Service link with the Seattle Song Circle, quite a few of you visited me up at San Juan Island at English Camp in 1985 to sing songs for the visitors who were passing through the park. I've heard tell of a local professor who sings out at English Camp these days (just learned about him today, actually, from a woman who travelled up there to take a class in Friday Harbor last summer). Cohen? I didn't write down his name. Ring any bells?

Maggie


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: Suffet
Date: 30 Nov 01 - 06:42 AM

That's right folks, the good old fashioned hootenanny returns to New York City on December 1, 2001.

Remember those wonderful nights in a dimly lit, smoke filled Greenwich Village coffee house 40 years ago? You paid 50 cents to get in, and what you heard was an eclectic bunch of performers, all ready to sing their hearts out, not because they had dreams of stardom, but because they imagined they had something to say. A typical cast of characters included the following:

* The Earth Mama who sang about the changing seasons with sensual delight.

* The Crusty Old Sailor with his squeezebox who led the audience in rollicking chanteys.

* The Angry Young Man who railed against the wrongs of the world.

* The Jewish Boy from Brooklyn who had somehow sprouted an Oklahoma accent and sang about cowboys and freight trains.

Well, now is your chance to relive that experience, with a few minor adjustments. The lighting has improved, if only marginally. Smoking is no longer allowed. We've moved from the Village to the Upper East Side. And you'll have to pay 10 bucks to get in. But the cast of characters remains unchanged. To wit:

* Jessica Feinbloom as the Earth Mama.

* Frank Woerner as the Crusty Old Sailor.

* Joel Landy as the Angry Young Man.

* Steve Suffet as the Jewish Boy from Brooklyn.

Also expect a few guest performers, such as Gina Tlamsa on violin and flute and Henry Oelkers on washtub bass.

Here are the where and when:

Saturday, December 1, 2001
8:00 PM
Sun Music Company
340 East 71st Street, just west of 1st Avenue
Manhattan, New York City

Admission: $10.

Doors open at 7:30 PM.

Light refreshments available.

Come prepared to sing along, clap, whoop, holler, and shout. Tambourines and spoons welcome. Sorry, dancing in the aisles is not permitted.

For information please call (212) 396-9521.


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: Deckman
Date: 30 Nov 01 - 10:35 AM

Can I get a discount if I fly in from Seattle? CHEERS, Bob


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: harpgirl
Date: 30 Nov 01 - 07:35 PM

My first experience with hootenannies was at The Ark in Ann Arbor. On "hoot" night local performers were featured. I was too shy in those days to perform but I made some great friendships that endure today. I remember Cheryl Dawdy, now of the Chenille Sisters, Leo Kretzner, who was my first dulcimer teacher, Dicky Siegel, Mad Cat Ruth, Rick Rubarth and Jay Stielstra.

Of course, the other nights included such performers as Art Thieme, John Hartford, David Bromberg, Barry O'Neil, Michael Cooney, Mike Seeger, Elizabeth Cotton, Margaret Christl, Alice Gerard and Hazel Dickens, Bob White, Bob Zentz, Fred Small and so many others. Those days at The Ark, laughing and cutting up with Dave Siglin, Anya and Linda back in the kitchen of the Presbyterian house on Hill St changed my life forever!!!! What wonderful memories...


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: BH
Date: 01 Dec 01 - 07:41 PM

An obvious plug for a venue in NJ that presents programs well worth the attention of the folks on this group. The Hurdy Gurdy Folk Music Club of Paramus NJ. (www.hurdygurdy.org)

Hoots are great---as I posted earlier (much earlier in reagard to Lil Appel). Times move on---and --a bow to Steve Suffet who does a great job in continuing the tradition---the Hurdy Gurdy presents "folk music" in this area and always manages to get the artists that get the audience involved.

Organizations like this need your support if this music is to survive. Not only the music===the ambience and culture.

By the way---in Jan. Michael Smith is the performer/ March brings us Amy Fradon. Other artists will include Cathie Ryan. Somed others of recent memory---Garnet RFogers, Priscilla Herdman, Weavermania, Eric Bogle---and the list goes on.

Bill Hahn


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: Suffet
Date: 02 Dec 01 - 07:45 AM

The Hurdy Gurdy Folk Club, as Bill Hahn says, deserves your support. They are among the many venues throughout North America that keep alive the tradition of people gathering in intimate spaces to actively share music, and not just be passive consumers of a commidity rammed down our collective throat by the Military-Insustrial-Entertainment Complex. Such grass-roots sharing of music takes many forms: song circles, community sings, round robins, weekend retreats, open stages/mikes, coffee houses, back room jam sessions, house concerts, small festivals, and so forth. I know, for example, that I am not the only person who at the Clearwater Hudson River Revival who spends almost all his/her time at the Circle of Song area. (Yes, I do check out the main stage every now and then!)

Now a report and a plug.

People had a wonderful time at Sun Music Company last night, December 1, 2001. The hoot brought together four performers with very different styles, but instead of performing four separate sets, we supported one another, providing instrument accompaniment and vocal harmonies. We were joined in this endeavor by our two guest artits, Gina Tlamsa on the flute and violin, and Henry Oelkers on the washtub bass. We were also joined on our last two numbers by Ken Schatz -- KAS to folks on Mudcat -- whom we called out of the audience. And as expected, the entire audience participated throughout the two-and-a-half. One fellow brought tambourines, and another brought a limberjack (dancing wooden doll) with him. I can truly state that the tradition of the hootenanny is alive and well.

Now the plug. I'll be appearing at the Peoples' Voice Cafe in New York City on Saturday, January 5, 2002, at 8:00 PM. I'll be sharing the bill with my old friend Vicki Rovere. She's an a cappella singer-songwriter, and a very witty one at that. Many of her songs are topical-political, but they are not at all preachy; they are just a lot of fun.

For my own part, I've invited my old hootenanny partners to join me if they can. Gina Tlamsa should be there, and so should Joel Landy, Jessica Feinbloom, Frank Woerner, and possibly Ken Schatz. And so should Meg Lamm. She's a classically trained violinist who is just beginning to get herself into old-time fiddling.

People's Voice Cafe is located at the Workmen's Circle, 45 East 33rd Street in midtown Manhattan. Doors open at 7:30 PM. General admissuon is $10, but the place will accept a TDF voucher instead. Peoples Voice Cafe or Workemen's Circle members pay only $7. And if you are a senior citizen, on strike, or what is called "up against the machine," you pay only $5 to get in.

--- Steve


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: Deckman
Date: 02 Dec 01 - 04:29 PM

I just came across a small pocket book titled "Hootenanny Tonight." This is paperback, probably sold for 50 cents, published by Fawcett in 1964. It mentions an interesting thing ... I'll quote "In the Summer of 1940 some political leaders from Seattle were looking for a name to pin on a series of fundraising parties they were planning. Since the parties were to be of an impromptu nature featuring everything from dinners and dancing to entertainment, door prizes and uncertainty, the hootenanny tag was a natural. Credit for giving the right name to the right place at the right time goes to Terry Pettus who remembered it from his Hoosier youth. Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie picked up the idea in Seattle and took it back to New York where they attached it to their Sunday afternoon singing gatherings. By the time those Sunday afternoon hoots had worked their way up from rent paying homespun affairs to Carnegie Hall the hootenanny was an established folk term. The usage was academically confirmed in 1959 when the dictionaries began to include it." I can't speak to the accuracy of this history, but it sure rings true to me. Terry Pettus was a LARGE force in early Seattle politics. He lived on one of the more famous Seattle Lake Union houseboats where we used to hoot all night, every weekend. He organized the "Seattle Floating Home Association", which proved to be a real pain in the left nostril of Seattle lawyers for decades. Anyway, thought you'd enjoy this glimpse. CHEERS, Bob(deckman)Nelson ... Everett, Washington


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: Deckman
Date: 02 Dec 01 - 06:02 PM

I stopped quoting from James Leisy's book one paragraph too soon. I turned the page and found this: ... "As might be expected, critics subsequently began arguing as to precisely what kind of affair was technically a hootenanny. Some argued that if certain people were picked to sing it was a hoot - but if anyone could pick and sing it wasn't. Fortunatly there were enough people around who didn't give a hoot about such hair-splitting so that common usage has remained uncomplicated and general in meaning." (rather clever I'd say ... but I do remember some of those stupid aurguments.) Bob


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: Don Firth
Date: 02 Dec 01 - 06:30 PM

Bob, I have a whole stack of drugstore sized paperback folk song books from around the early Sixties (some good, some very good, some putrid -- publishers jumping on the "Great Folk Scare" bandwagon to make a buck or two), but I guess I missed that one. Good comprehensive note. Also, for those who haven't read to whole thread, see my quote from Pete Seeger's The Incomplete Folksinger above. Second post on the thread.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: Don Firth
Date: 02 Dec 01 - 06:32 PM

'Scuse me. The Incompleat Folksinger.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: Deckman
Date: 02 Dec 01 - 07:38 PM

I'm SURE this is 'thread creeping', but Don, do you remember those many hoots on the Lake Union Houseboats? I can remember one party, it was the final day of school, and the hoot started early. The host was a Highline High School teacher. By dark we were all singing and partying, and we ended the party by running from side to side, wall to wall, trying to sink his houseboat! We didn't succeed and he was so pleased that he invited us back the next weekend. And, as well you remember (The Ballad of Giddings Fall) there have been many noteable events that occured on the houseboats. AAAAAH, the good times. CHEERS, Bob


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: Don Firth
Date: 02 Dec 01 - 09:26 PM

Hah! Lake Union houseboats!

When Ken Manus got married, he moved in with his new wife who lived in a small houseboat on Lake Union. About the first thing up, they had a hoot there. They soon learned that with all the people congregated in the living room, the houseboat listed sufficiently that Lake Union started coming in the front door. Ken devised a counterbalance. Since everyone was playing guitars, banjos, nose-flutes, etc, and nobody played the piano, he decided to roll the piano to the other side of the houseboat. The only place it would fit was in the bathroom.

Beer and wine tended to flow freely, and although I don't recall anyone getting too squishy, such consumables do eventually have an affect upon the bladder. When one discovered the need to go wee-wee, it took a couple of bully-boys to roll the piano out of the bathroom, and Ken had to deploy the guests around the house to make sure things balanced properly. Hard to drain the sump discreet under such circumstances.

Some of the sneakier male guests would "step outside for a smoke" and slyly piddle off the front porch.

Houseboats! One could write a book!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: Deckman
Date: 02 Dec 01 - 10:14 PM

"One could write a book!" I think one should and I think you should get busy! Bob


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: Don Firth
Date: 03 Dec 01 - 03:18 AM

Workin' on it.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: GUEST,Lori
Date: 04 Dec 01 - 04:36 PM

The way I see it, a hootenanny is halfway between a concert and an open jam. It has elements of both, but it is neither. Expect lots of improptu music making among invited perfomers, with lots of audience participation. But a hoot isn't a free for all.


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: Deckman
Date: 04 Dec 01 - 07:40 PM

Hi Lori. Hmmmm "a hoot isn't a free for all". Is that a question or a statement? It's been my exerience that hoots ARE 'free for alls.' Hence the wonderful moments, the golden songs, the magic moments, the excess children (just kidding), the tears, the laughs, and the quiet comming together of like minded folks that want to share an evening of songs with their friends. To go on ... Occasionally I've been to hoot situations where someone, usually the host, tried to direct the traffic, so to say. These are always disasters. When someone gets too directive, the hoot goes sour. What I do, when I am planning a hoot, is to be very careful who I invite, or who I don't invite. In my neighborhood, everyone knows my rules, don't show up if you are not invited. I host NO "drop ins." (the last time I did that I woke up married). By carefully gathering together like minded souls, you can expect a reasonably good gathering. CHEERS, Bob (trying to be helpful) Nelson. (feel free to contact me off line if you want.)


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: GUEST,Frank
Date: 05 Dec 01 - 12:10 PM

having participated in many of these things I have the following comments:

The first thing that has to happen is chemistry. there's where the magic happens. between performers, performers and audience.

room for spontaneity. Letting things happen.

inclusiveness. If that's not there, then forget it. include fellow perfomers and the audience.

do familiar stuff. esoteric material doesn't play well.

know the players helps but not always necessary. I've had some great musical experiences in a hoot format with people I barely knew.

Frank


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: Don Firth
Date: 05 Dec 01 - 04:33 PM

One thing that may be confusing the issue a bit is that there are hootenannies, hootenannies, and "hootenannies." The first hootenanny I ever went to was a come-one, come-all free-for-all (for a description of this event, see my 30-Aug-01 - 01:32 PM post above). It was open to anyone who wanted to come. If you wanted to sing, fine. If you wanted to come and just listen, that was fine too. There was no list of singers, there was no schedule, and there was no program. Whatever was to happen just happened. And it was a great evening. This was the first hootenanny that had been held in this area for some time, and it brought a lot of folk music enthusiasts together who had never previously met. Many friendships developed out of this event, and it formed a core group around which subsequent hootenannies and other folk music events grew. There followed other hoots of the same kind, usually held in some public or semi-public place. This first one was held at The Chalet restaurant, but the University Friends Meeting House, if not otherwise booked, always welcomed this kind of thing (a few of the singers and several of the enthusiasts were Quakers), and there were several other places that welcomed us.

There were the spontaneous "hoots" that I also described in the above post. These were almost always held in private homes. These, too, were open to anyone who wanted to come. Occasionally a few rowdy types who were just looking for a party would show up. If they were disruptive they would be asked to leave; sometimes they just got bored and left on their own; and a few thought it was great, stayed, joined in, and started coming regularly.

Non-spontaneous (planned a week or more in advance) hoots in private homes started out being open to all, but we found that, unfortunately, it was necessary to put a few limitations on who got invited. We wanted the singing to be free-floating and spontaneous -- whatever came to mind. It never occurred to us to plan any kind of program or sequence of who was going to sing what. There were a couple of glitches, however. A woman who played the accordion and sang nothing but protest songs frequently tried the take over a hoot and turn it into some kind of political rally. After this happen several times, somehow we just neglected to invite her. Also, there was a bluegrass group that made themselves unwelcome. The bluegrass was fine; but the people in the group weren't. They viewed ballad singers with contempt, thought bluegrass was the only real folk music there was, and once they started playing, they would go from one number to another without pause, not letting anybody else get a song in edgewise. If people didn't know how to behave, they just didn't get invited. Bob the Deckman really knows how to host a hoot. He keeps an eye on who's going to be there, but other than that, he lets things run their course. He's had a lot of experience in hosting good ones.

Now, here, I think, is where the confusion comes in. In an effort to take advantage of the sudden popularity of folk music, the TV networks got into the act in March of 1963 with the advent of programs such as "ABC Hootenanny." The program came on Saturday nights, lasted for half an hour, and featured four "acts." The whole thing was carefully planned and choreographed. The only thing hootenanny-ish about it was the name of the show.

In summer of 1963, a Los Angeles promoter came to Seattle, recruited a bunch of local folksingers, and started "the Seattle Center Hootenanny" series modeled after "ABC Hootenanny." The whole idea was to promote the new Seattle Center (formerly the site of the Seattle World's Fair) and draw people in. There was not charge to the audience. They were held every Wednesday evening throughout the summer, ran for about two hours, drew huge audiences, and some of them were televised. I sang in many of these, as did most of Seattle's folksingers. The promoter paid us reasonably well, the audiences were wildly enthusiastic, and all in all, it was a very good gig. Nevertheless, to my mind, in this context "hootenanny" was just a buzzword. These were no more hootenannies than "Austin City Limits" is a hootenanny.

Granted, the first events that Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, et al referred to as "hootenannies" were events where the people who came to listen were asked to pay the handsome sum of 35 cents. These were something akin to "skiffle parties." The idea was to put on some sort of event and charge for it so you could pay the rent. The concept of the hootenanny pretty much evolved from there into "an informal gathering of folksingers."

Now, if you are going to have a big hoot with a lot of singers and a big crowd, and you need to rent a hall to hold everybody, then it makes sense to ask everybody to kick in and help pay the rent. Or if food is involved, make it a potluck. After all, that's what a hootenanny is: a musical potluck.

But the idea of some entrepreneur or concert promoter (who might be a folksinger as well) booking a hall, booking a group of folksingers, setting the hall up so that the performers sit here and the audience sits there, setting up the schedule, printing programs and posters and sending out other publicity, charging ten bucks at the door, then calling at a "hootenanny" -- No. I'm sorry. To my mind, that whole philosophy is all wrong. That's not a hootenanny. That's a multi-performer concert.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: Suffet
Date: 05 Dec 01 - 06:07 PM

It looks like there are several different definitions afloat. What I produced this past Saturday (Dec. 1, 2001) in New York City may not have fit some folks' definition of a hootennay, but it fit mine. Yes, it was a multiple performer concert. But there were some very important "hootische" features to it, not usually found in your basic concert. Among these:

1. We opened and closed with ensemble numbers, that included all of the featured performers, our scheduled guest peformers, and, in the case of the two closing numbers, someone we called out of the audience.

2. The performers, both featured and guest, supported each other throughout, with back-up vocals and with instrumental accompaniment whenever requested.

3. Almost all the songs were sing-alongs, with audience participation encouraged. They were either familiar songs, or else songs with easy to learn singable choruses. Two people in the audience even provided percussion accompaniment (tambourine, limberjack) with our approval.

4. During the intermission, the performers mingled with the audience instead of retreating to a back room. To gather folks back together at the end of intermission, we had a two song open jam -- "Rocky Top" and "Worried Man" -- with a few members of the audience borrowing our instruments to join in.

5. Afterwards, about 16 of us, performers and audience alike, went out to a coffee shop around the corner. Between bites and gulps, we kept singing for another hour and a half.


Hootenanny or not hootenanny? You decide.

--- Steve


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: Deckman
Date: 05 Dec 01 - 06:07 PM

VERY WELL SAID, DON! By the way, don't forget the hoot this Sunday at Jo's. I've got new strings on my classic and new songs on my brain. CHEERS, Bob


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: Deckman
Date: 05 Dec 01 - 06:40 PM

Hi Suffet. Sounds like everyone had a great time and you obviously put a lot of planning and thought into your Hoot. Wether it's a hoot, or a hootenanny, or a rassafrat probably isn't the most important issue. If my memory is correct, and it rarely is these days, this thread started with the subject, Hoots, history and such. I REALLY have enjoyed all the postings on this thread (ain't mudcat great). I think we are clearly seeing basic differences between hoot styles ... and one doesn't dimminish the other. To me, a hoot has always been a small, private affair where the close gathering together of a few friends, and songs, is what it's all about. To 'stage' a hoot, as you did, is also legitimate ... but that's NOT our experience out here on the West Coast. Don makes a perfect point when he mentions the stupid TV show by the same name. Have you ever noticed that just about everything that TV touches, it ruins. We, way out here, have always felt a proprietary claim on the name "hoot." After all, it's well known that the name was coined in Seattle. And I've always felt that no one is more provincial (says Bob fondly) than us Seattlites. (try to say that word fast three times). So, what I'm trying to say is this: you have your hoots, we'll have ours, but most importantly, let's encourage the music. (just my .02 worth). CHEERS, Bob


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Subject: RE: Hootenannys, history and such
From: Don Firth
Date: 06 Dec 01 - 01:54 AM

Steve, it sounds like a terrific evening -- I wish I'd been there -- and no way am I trying to put it or you down. And Bob is right: what you call it "isn't the most important issue." The important thing is that you did it and it turned out great.

I know I'm stuck on the definition (however fuzzy) that I first learned. What really sticks in my craw was the inappropriate usurpation of the term "hootenanny" by the ABC network, partly because they didn't give a damn what the word really meant, it just implied "folk music;" but largely because they wanted to make a quick buck by jumping on the bandwagon, blackballed several of those who were the first to use the term, and THEN the buggers tried to copyright the word! (#&!@%$!) Still makes my blood boil.

(Okay, Firth, if you objected so strenuously to the way the word was used, why did you support the Seattle Center Hootenannies by singing in them? Well, blacklist or not, the Seattle Center Hootenanny would have been tickled pink to have had Pete Seeger, it was a good, well-run gig, and a lot of people, particularly kids, became interested in folk music because of them.)

I have a hard time reconciling the concept of "featured performers" with the concept of "hootenanny." Nevertheless, what is important is not what you called it, but that you did it. Press on!

Don Firth


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