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Hootenanny is a Scottish word meaning 'celebration' and / or 'party', most closely associated with Hogmanay - the Scots New Year celebration which, traditionally, is the biggest celebration on the Scottish calendar. With the Scots being one of the biggest groups of settlers in the Appalachian region of North America [bringing with them their whiskey-making tradition and methods, leading to the area's 'moonshining' tradition] it's not surprising that hootenanny became an Appalachian colloquialism although it became used in early twentieth century America as a placeholder name to refer to things whose names were forgotten or unknown. In this usage it was synonymous with thingamajig or whatchamacallit, as in "hand me that hootenanny." Hootenanny was also an old country word for "party". Nowadays the word most commonly refers to a folk music party with an open mic, at which different performers are welcome to get up and play in front of an audience.
"Hootenanny" was also used by the leadership of early firefighting battalions to describe a "meeting of the minds" of higher ups or various department heads. The term has trickled down to working companies and is now used, with some frequency, at working incidents and other circumstances that require a focused discussion between key individuals. Most recently it was adopted for use during the annual Fire Department Instructors Conference. Logistics professionals for the conference employ the word to call together the required personnel needed to accomplish the prodigious assignments placed on them.
According to Pete Seeger, in various interviews, he first heard the word hootenanny in Seattle, Washington in the late 1930s. It was used by Hugh DeLacy’s New Deal political club  to describe their monthly music fund raisers. After some debate the club voted in the word hootenanny, which narrowly beat out the word wingding. Seeger, Woody Guthrie and other members of the Almanac Singers later used the word in New York City to describe their weekly rent parties, which featured many notable folksingers of the time. In a 1962 interview in Time, Joan Baez made the analogy that a hootenanny is to folk singing what a jam session is to jazz.
During the early 1960s at the height of the Folk Music era, the club [[Gerdes Folk City] at 11 West 4th Street in Greenwich Village started the folk music hootenanny tradition every Monday night, that featured an open mic and welcomed performers known and unknown, young and old.
The Hootenanny is an annual one-day rockabilly music festival held at the Oak Canyon Ranch in Irvine, California, which also incorporates a vintage car show.
Several different television shows are named and styled after it, including: