What is a Hootenanny?

Gil’s Hootenanny, Ottawa’s annual community singalong, celebrates songs of hope and protest with exuberant audience participation. While the word “hootenanny” may not be in everyone’s lexicon, Gil’s Hootenanny is hell-bent on reviving this form of entertainment for folks of all ages.

Gil’s Hootenanny traces its roots back to folk legends Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie who popularized hootenannies in the 1950s-1960s as informal folk music gatherings with the audience singing along. Joan Baez famously noted that “A hootenanny is to folk singing what a jam session is to jazz”.

Gil’s Hootenanny brings people together every May Day to share the stories, struggles and victories of working people and the peace, environmental and women’s movements. First presented in 2010, Gil’s Hootenanny has seen increasingly larger audiences singing together and experiencing the power of song to change the world. As Pete Seeger once said, “A good song reminds us what we’re fighting for”.

Singing together can go a long way towards building community and strengthening social bonds. It also supports our physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing.

Headlining this 15th annual Gil’s Hootenanny is singer-songwriter and legendary song leader Annie Patterson. A performer who can “get a roomful of store mannequins to break out in song”, Annie has spent her life working for justice through music. She is a multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter and jazz vocalist who is also the co-creator, with her long-time partner Peter Blood, of the best-selling songbooks Rise Up Singing and Rise Again. Peter will accompany Annie on fiddle and guitar during the Hootenanny.

Gil’s Hootenanny will take place at 7:00 pm on May Day, Wednesday, May 1, at 30 Cleary Avenue, the campus of the First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa. The venue is accessible, has ample parking and is serviced by OC Transpo. Tickets will be $20 (plus fees), kids free. 

Stay tuned for further information.