Category Archives: About Gil’s Hootenanny

Bread and Roses

Celebrating Helen Levine at Gil’s Hootenanny

Bread and Roses” is a feature of the Gil’s Hootenanny repertoire. For 2019’s Hootenanny, this historic song will take on a special significance, as it was a favourite of Helen Levine, who died at 95 on October 24, 2018. Helen and Gil Levine, for whom the Hootenanny is named, hosted hootenannies in their home for decades.

2016 bread and roses
2016 bread and roses. Photo by Jake Morrison

Helen’s daughter, Tamara Levine, explained that her mother understood the power of collective singing within social and political movements. Coming out of the successful 1912 textile strike by immigrant women workers in Lawrence, Massachusetts, the message in “Bread and Roses” resonated with Helen, a long time feminist with a wide interest in social justice. “Bread and Roses”, an anthem of both the women’s and the labour movements, demands not only fair wages for women (bread), but also dignity, respect, education and culture (roses).

Tamara attributes her mother’s love of “Bread and Roses” to the “simple yet strong image of the bread for survival and roses for beauty” that illustrates Helen’s belief in ‘the personal is political’. The song also speaks to her commitment to the advancement of equality for women in all aspects of society.

The 2019 Hootenanny will take place on Wednesday, May 1st at 7:30pm in Clark Hall at the RA Centre, 2451 Riverside Drive. Staffed by UNIFOR members, the RA Centre is accessible, has loads of parking and is well serviced by OC Transpo.

Tickets are $10; kids are free.

Helen and Gil on Helen’s bench at Dow’s Lake, circa 2005

Gil & Helen Levines’ Legacy

Changing the World Through the Power of Song

When Gil Levine died at 85 in 2009, three words in his obituary, “… plan a hootenanny”, were the beginning of Gil’s Hootenanny, an Ottawa tradition now into its milestone 10th year and getting stronger.

Gil Levine

Held each year on May Day, this annual celebration of the collective power of song to change the world was inspired by Gil, the founding Director of Research at the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), a great lover of folk music and a staunch supporter of folk musicians. Helen Levine, who died at 95 in October 2018, also considered herself an “old folkie”. Helen and Gil showed their love of folk music in many ways, including hosting annual hootenannies and May Day celebrations at their home for decades.

Among Gil’s favourite troubadors were Pete Seeger and Phil Ochs, and Gil’s Hootenanny always celebrates these musical legends with a song or two. Helen and Gil had a particularly strong connection to Pete. In 1957, Gil co-produced a Seeger concert in Ottawa – with friends Harvey Glatt and Max Sternthal – at a time when he was blacklisted in the US. Helen recalled that they “scraped $25 together to rent the hall, which wasn’t easy back then”. As 2019 marks the 100th Anniversary of Pete Seeger’s birth, the Hootenanny will pay homage to him with a special presentation by Steve Richer, folk singer and banjo-playing Professor Emeritus at Carleton University.

Through its song-writing contests and workshops, Gil’s Hootenanny has made a significant contribution to Canada’s hope and protest songbook. Tony Turner’s 2015 contest-winning song, “Harperman”, went viral in Canada and beyond. Mark Evenchick’s 2016 winning song “Believe Again” and 2017’s winner “Rise Above” by Christine Graves have become staples of their impressive repertoires.

Helen and Gil’s vision of a better world included bringing people together to celebrate and share the stories, struggles and victories of working women and men. It is thus fitting that Gil’s Hootenanny has evolved into a fun, energetic sing-along event that celebrates the power of song to change the world.

The 2019 Hootenanny will take place on Wednesday, May 1st at 7:30pm in Clark Hall at the RA Centre, 2451 Riverside Drive. Staffed by UNIFOR members, the RA Centre is accessible, has loads of parking and is well serviced by OC Transpo.

Tickets are $10; kids are free.

Stay tuned for further information.

Gil’s Legacy – Changing the World A Song at a Time

When Gil Levine died at 85 in 2009, three words in his obituary, “… plan a hootenanny”, started an Ottawa tradition that is now into its 9th year and getting stronger.

Held each year on May Day, this annual celebration of the collective power of song was inspired by Gil, who was the founding Director of Research at the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and a great lover of folk music and supporter of folk musicians. Gil demonstrated his love of folk music in many ways, including hosting annual hootenannies at home for decades. Continue reading

Welcome

Gil’s Hootenanny 2019
10th Anniversary

Gil Levine

Gil Levine

Inspired by the legacy of Gil Levine, Wednesday, May 1st, 2019 will mark the 10th anniversary for Ottawa’s Gil’s Hootenanny, the annual community sing-along celebrating the stories, struggles and victories of working people.

Gil Levine spent his life working for social justice and was the founding Director of Research at the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). A great lover of folk music and an enthusiastic supporter of folk musicians, Gil believed in the collective power of song to bring people together to speak up and sing out for change.

Maria Dunn

Maria Dunn photo by David Williamson

First presented in 2010, the annual Hootenanny has seen increasingly larger audiences who join featured artists and the house band in singing along with new and traditional songs of hope and protest. The featured artists for the 10th Anniversary Hootenanny are Maria Dunn (http://www.mariadunn.com) and Maria Hawkins (http://www.mariahawkins.ca) with a special presentation by Steve Richer, who will pay homage to Pete Seeger for the 100th anniversary year of his birth. The Hootenanny Band will comprise members of the Elizabeth Riley Band.

Maria Hawkins

Maria Hawkins photo by Kate Morgan

Gil’s Hootenanny will take place at 7:30pm in Clark Hall at the RA Centre, 2451 Riverside Drive. Staffed by UNIFOR members, the RA Centre is accessible, has loads of parking and is well serviced by OC Transpo.

Tickets are $10, kids are free.

Stay tuned for further information.

For information and advice on how to organize a May Day sing-along event in your community, contact info@gilshootenanny.ca.

Gil’s Legacy | Changing the World A Song at a Time

When Gil Levine died at 85 in 2009, three words in his obituary, “… plan a hootenanny’, started an Ottawa tradition that is now into its 8th year and getting stronger.

Held each year on May Day, this annual celebration of the collective power of song was inspired by Gil, who was the founding Director of Research at the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and a great lover of folk music and supporter of folk musicians. Gil demonstrated his love of folk music in many ways, including hosting annual hootenannies at home for decades. Continue reading

On May 1st, Come Sing With Us!

GilsHoot-poster-8.5x11-WEB

Please join us for Gil’s Hootenanny, an evening of “Songs of Protest, Songs of Hope,” hosted in Ottawa by the Spirit of Rasputin’s.

Every year since his death in 2009, Ottawa’s folk community has honoured the memory Gil Levine, a a local activist, staunch trade unionist, lover of folk music, hootenannies and May Day.

Gil’s Hootenanny will take place on Wednesday, May 1st at 7:30pm at the Glebe Community Centre, 175 Third Ave.

This year, Kristine St-Pierre, Mighty Popo, Three Little Birds, the Shout Sister choir, Maria Dunn, and Terry Tufts will bring us together in song. The Hootenanny is hosted by the Spirit of Rasputin’s Arts Society and is sponsored by CUPE and PSAC National Capital Region. All funds raised once the artists and expenses are paid will go to Spirit of Rasputin’s programming throughout the year.

Come sing with us and bring your friends.

Tickets are $10 each (kids 16 and under are free) and are available at the Ottawa Folklore Centre or on-line at http://rasputins.ca/events/gils-hootenanny/