Category Archives: Hootenanny Band

“The Marias” To Headline Gil’s Hootenanny’s 10th Anniversary Line-up

Maria Dunn and Maria Hawkins will be the 2019 headliners for the 10th Annual Gil’s Hootenanny, Wednesday, May 1st at 7:30pm at the RA Centre (Clark Hall), 2451 Riverside Drive. Affectionately dubbed “the Marias” by Hootenanny organizers, Dunn and Hawkins will share the stage, alternating songs in a musical conversation that will be intimate & fun with the added element of audience participation – a tradition for this annual sing-along event.

Poster design by Kate Morgan

Inspired by the legacy of Gil Levine (1924-2009), the founding Director of Research at the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Gil’s Hootenannywas first presented in 2010. Gil and his wife Helen, who died in October 2018, hosted hootenannies at their home for decades.

Passionate about preserving the spirit of folk music, twice Juno-nominated Maria Dunnis often compared to Woody Guthrie for her keen social awareness and her melodic, unvarnished songs about the lives of working men and women. Her stint as a volunteer DJ in community radio encouraged Dunn to listen widely to master songwriters, singers and instrumentalists of folk and roots music. Becoming an avid fan of live music, Dunn began writing her own music in the mid-90s, drawing deeply on the folk tradition of storytelling through song to honour the resilience and grace of “ordinary” people, past and present.

Ottawa’s Blues Lady Maria Hawkins is a much-beloved performer in Ottawa, and is well known as the co-creator of “Blues in the Schools”, which garnered the W.C. Handy Blues Award. Hawkins has also earned a United Way Community Builder Award for her work with local charities, the NAC Award for Artistic Excellence, and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal for 25 years of inspiration to Canadian youth. Hawkins’ music is influenced by a deep respect for indigenous peoples and passion for peace and justice, and is informed by many facets of her background, including her black, Mi’kmaq and Acadian ancestry.

Pete Seeger was among Gil and Helen’s favourite troubadours. As 2019 marks the 100th Anniversary of his birth, the Hootenanny will celebrate Pete with a special presentation of his legacy by Steve Richer, folk singer and banjo-playing Professor Emeritus at Carleton University. The Hootenanny Band will open the evening with a selection of new and traditional sing-along music. The Band comprises members of the Elizabeth Riley Band – Carmel Whittle, Jen Gilbert & Patricia Reynolds – with Debbie Rubin and Mark Evenchick.

Helen and Gil’s vision of a better world included bringing people together to celebrate, share and sing about the stories, struggles and victories of working women and men. Gil’s Hootenanny continues that legacy.

Tickets ($10, kids free) are now available online and can be purchased (cash only) at Octopus Books, 116 Third Avenue. For additional information visit Facebook.

The 2019 Hootenanny Band

Creating the Feeling of Togetherness

A beloved element of Gil’s Hootenanny is the entrance march. The performers promenade into the hall singing, playing and encouraging the audience to join in the music. For the Hootenanny Band, leading the entrance march is a natural extension of their identity. Equity, social activism and social justice are central to their song writing and performance style, and they are all singer-songwriters, multi-instrumentalists and vocalists who captivate and inspire audiences with their energy

Three members of the Hootenanny Band are musicians from the Elizabeth Riley Band:

  • Jen Gilbert, acoustic guitar, vocals: Jen grew up in the Ottawa Valley in a music-loving family. While Jen’s original music is heavily influenced by the chord progressions and traditions of old-time country music, she loves and plays all styles of music. Outside of her music-life as a member of the Elizabeth Riley Band, Jen is a mom, an educator, and a songwriter.
  • Patricia Reynolds, electric guitar, vocals: Patricia has been playing and singing since her childhood on Manitoulin Island. Her musical influences range from classic country and bluegrass to rockabilly to traditional and contemporary folk music. She enjoys playing and jamming – with Elizabeth Riley Band, Local Colour, Just Voices choir, and musical friends.
  • Carmel Whittle, stand up snare, percussion, harmonica, guitar, vocals: Carmel is an Irish and Mik’maq visual artist, musician, song writer & activist who hails from Newfoundland. Currently a filmaker, community outreach and Indigenous Liaison at Gallery 101, she is also a community organizer and co-ordinator for the Indigenous Artists’ Coalition ‘No Borders Art Festival’. She loves to experiment with sound and create instruments from found objects to create songs of loss tragedy and love.

Jen, Patricia and Carmel will be joined by musical friends Debbie Rubin and Mark Evenchick for the 2019 Hootenanny Band.

  • Debbie Rubin is a vocalist and banjo player who has been a key Gil’s Hootenanny organizer for many years. She is part of the group Local Colour and also the Ottawa Simcha Band, Sing n’jam and Keep on Singing. A retired teacher from Algonquin College, Debbie is also a visual artist.
  • Mark Evenchick was the winner of the 2016 Hootenanny songwriting contest. His love of music started when he was 13 and learned three chords on his sister’s guitar. Those few chords led Mark on a decades-long musical voyage that includes performing, songwriting & recording.

The 2019 Gil’s Hootenanny will take place on May 1st at 7:30 pm at the RA centre (Clark Hall), 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 available online and can be purchased (cash only) at Octopus Books, 16 Third Avenue. Tickets are $10; kids free.