Glebe Community Newspaper Article

Gil’s Hootenanny: Songs of Protest, Songs of Hope at the Glebe Community Centre on May 1st

“A good song reminds us what we’re fighting for”.
Pete Seeger ( (1919 – 2014)

2013 performers

Scotton Hall – 2013 Gil’s Hootenanny

On May 1st, people from all over the city will gather in Scotton Hall of the Glebe Community Centre. Led by musicians from Ottawa and elsewhere, all are invited to come together in song. The event is called “Songs of Protest, Songs of Hope” and takes place annually in memory of long time Ottawa activist Gil Levine, who believed that music had the power to change the world.

Three Little Birds, Kristine St. Pierre, Mighty Popo

Three Little Birds, Kristine St. Pierre, Mighty Popo at 2013 Hootenanny

“Hootenanny”, a Scottish word for celebration or party, is a gathering where folksingers sing and play with an emphasis on audience participation. Gil loved to host hootenannies and, after his death in 2009, his family and friends organized “Gil’s Hootenanny: Songs of Protest. Songs of Hope” in celebration of his life. A life-long trade unionist, Gil loved May Day, Pete Seeger and folk music. The tribute was so well received that the group, joined by the Spirit of Rasputin’s, decided to organize a second hootenanny the following year. And the one after that. Gil’s Hootenanny is now an annual event that draws hundreds of participants, eager to join their voices in song. This is the second year that the hootenanny will take place at the Glebe Community Centre.

The success of the 613 Casual Choir (standing room only at the first couple of meetings) is evidence that there is a longing among people in our community to come together to sing. The hootenanny marries that aspect of togetherness with a focus on social change, protest and hope.

Audience participation and enthusiasm in 2013

Audience participation and enthusiasm in 2013

The planning for this year’s hootenanny included a song-writing contest. Aspiring song writers were invited to submit a recording of an original song about protest and hope that they felt they could teach a crowd to sing at the hootenanny. A panel of judges narrowed entries down to three finalists who will perform at the Grassroots Festival (Sunday, April 27th, 3:00pm at the Montgomery Legion, 330 Kent St). The winner will go on to perform and teach the winning song at Gil’s Hootenanny on May 1st.

The other performers at this year’s hootenanny will include veteran Ottawa troubadour Sneezy Waters and artist, songwriter and poet Evelyn Parry, of Toronto. They will be joined by the Hootenanny House Band, comprising Chris White, Erin Saoirse Adair, Lyndell Montgomery and Elage Mbaye. It will be their job to keep everyone singing!

You can read more about Gils’ Hootenanny at The organizers of the event hope to inspire Canadians in other communities to come together to sing songs of protest and hope

Sponsorship by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) and the Public Service Alliance of Canada, National Capital Region (PSAC) helps support Gil’s Hootenanny. It also keeps the ticket price low at $10.

Gil’s Hootenanny: Songs of Protest, Songs of Hope will take place on Thursday, May 1 in Scotton Hall at the Glebe Community Centre, 175 Lyon St. at 7:30pm (doors open at 7:00pm). Tickets can be ordered online at, purchased at the Ottawa Folklore Centre at 1111 Bank St.,(613) 730-2887 or at the door. Accompanied children under the age of 16 are welcome to attend at no charge.

As Pete Seeger said,

“There’s no such thing as a wrong note as long as you’re singing it”.

Chris White at the finale