Hootenanny

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ABC (ended 1964)

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Hootenanny

Show Summary

Hootenanny was presented as a traveling folk music jamboree. Taped at various college campuses, it debuted in the Spring of 1963 as a 30-minute show (8:30pm EST, Saturday) for 13 weeks. The program was not without controversy and is remembered today as the show that blacklisted Pete Seeger (along with other members of Seeger's group The Weavers), for alleged communist affiliations. For this reason, several of the genre's most prominent acts - The Kingston Trio, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and Peter, Paul & Mary, among others - refused to appear. Nevertheless, folk music was then at its commercial peak and Hootenanny was a ratings success. To its credit, the program did strive for a balance between commercial folk groups (The Limeliters, The New Christy Minstrels) and ethnic folk performers (Theodore Bikel, Addis & Crofut, Josh White). Topical songs were not avoided either - the Chad Mitchell Trio, who appeared nine times, sang the satiric "John Birch Society," Tom Paxton's "What Did You Learn in School Today?" and Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind." The otherwise well-scrubbed Goodtime Singers covered Phil Ochs' "Freedom Calling (What's That I Hear?)." And while Seeger and the Weavers were barred, their music was not: The Simon Sisters performed Seeger's "Turn, Turn, Turn" and The Chad Mitchell Trio performed his "Where Have All The Flowers Gone?" (a hit for the boycotting Kingston Trio and Peter, Paul & Mary); Bikel sang Weaver Fred Hellerman's anti-war song "Come Away, Melinda." In the Fall of 1963, Hootenanny was expanded to 60 minutes (7:30pm EST, Saturday) and scheduled against Jackie Gleason on CBS. Although not the time slot winner, Hootenanny scored well enough to keep Gleason out of the top 30, and by Christmas there was talk that it would continue for another season. But less than two months later, everything changed: Beatlemania had come to America and the popularity of folk music began a rapid decline. In fact, many performers who appeared on Hootenanny as folk singers (John Phillips, Cass Elliot, Gene Clark, Carly Simon) would find greater success in rock 'n' roll. In 1964, ABC cancelled Hootenanny in favor of a new music program: Shindig!

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Music