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For other uses, see Hootenanny (disambiguation).

Hootenanny is a Scottish word meaning "celebration" and/or "party".

With the Scots being one of the biggest groups of settlers in the Appalachian region of North America (bringing with them their whisky-making tradition and methods, leading to the area's moonshining tradition) it is not surprising that hootenanny became an Appalachian colloquialism, although it became used in early 20th-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.[citation needed] Logistics professionals for the conference employ the word to call together the required personnel needed to accomplish the prodigious assignments placed on them.[citation needed]


See also: Almanac Singers

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[1] to describe their monthly music fund raisers.[2] After some debate the club voted in hootenanny, which narrowly beat out 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.[2] 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.[3]


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.[4]

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.

For years there have been online hootenannys. The most long-standing example is Small Talk At The Wall,[5] which originated in 1999.



Several different television shows are named and styled after it, including:

Other uses[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Hugh DeLacy papers". Washington.edu. Special Collections, Libraries of University of Washington. Retrieved January 1, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b Hendrickson, Stewart. "Hootenannies in Seattle". PNWFolklore.org. Retrieved December 31, 2009. 
  3. ^ "Joan Baez: Biography". IMDB.com. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved December 31, 2009. 
  4. ^ Woliver, Robbie (1986), Bringing It All Back Home, Pantheon/Random House, ISBN 9780394740683 
  5. ^ Petersen, Nils Holger, Music Practices around Bob Dylan, Medieval Rituals, and Modernity. Københavns. 2005. ISBN 978-87-635-0423-2. Retrieved 2011-03-24. 
  6. ^ "HLAH". WildsideRecords.com. Wildside Records. 
  7. ^ Realism at Nonesuch Records
  8. ^ "June 1964". Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. Retrieved September 27, 2016. 

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