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Hootenanny is an Appalachian colloquialism that was used in early twentieth century Americamarker 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". Now, most commonly, it refers to a folk-music party.

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 Delacey’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 . 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 The Bitter Endmarker at 147 Bleecker Streetmarker in Greenwich Villagemarker had hootenannies every Tuesday night, that featured an open mike 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, S. 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 which has been going since 1999.


  • The band Weezer had a Hootenanny tour in 2008 which allowed fans to play songs with the band .


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

  • In 1963 and 1964 there was a BBC 1 show called "The Hoot'nanny Show", recorded in Edinburgh. (Ref: [126992]). Two albums with the same title were released, with contributions from Archie Fisher, Barney McKenna (before he joined The Dubliners), and The Corries.

References in Culture

  • Hootenanny is mentioned in Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Dead Man's Party (Season 3), when Oz is discussing what kind of party should be held to celebrate Buffy's return to Sunnydale he says: "We should figure out what kinda deal this is. I mean, is it a gathering, a shindig or a hootenanny?"

  • Hootenanny was mentioned in the TV series Lost in 2009, when the character Phil comes into the security room and says they have started a hootenanny.

  • Fermanagh Concert Band plays a Hootenanny which is a compilation of various tunes, it is arranged by Harold L Walters. It features a musically well-crafted chicken reel for clarinets.

  • The Big Chill has adopted the name for a mixed-media Sunday review - encompassing comedy and folk music - at their London venue The Big Chill House .

  • The Family Guy episode To Love and Die in Dixie features two stereotyped southern characters fighting over whether the barn party was, in fact, a hoedown or hootenanny.

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