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While the word itself originates from an Indiana expression denoting a “loose or unorganized gathering,” the modern hootenanny came to life in the late 50s when Woody Guthrie used the term to label the acoustic jam sessions and group sing-alongs that were the backbone of the folk music revival of the early 60s.  Pete Seeger says he encountered the word when he and Guthrie played at a New Dealer fundraiser and recalled that the name won out by a nose over another word for an unidentified thingy, wingding. The classic “Hoots” that were held on most college campuses were popular until the dual competition of Motown and Psychedelic Rock pushed folk music back into isolated living rooms and small clubs.

The bi-monthly hootenannies at the Pacific Grove Art Center (568 Lighthouse Ave. P.G.) have been happening for the last 18 years and are attended by some 30-70 people. These community musical events have raised over $6,000 in donations for the art center and have provided a unique experience for those participating.  Our 235-page songbook is comprised of folk, blues, country, jazz, and classic rock tunes that most people know. Our main objective is to have fun with few musical “rules” to dampen enthusiasm.

The most amazing aspect of Hootenanny is that it is a truly synergizing experience.  It combines the opportunity to read some great poetry, keep rhythm, satisfy the longing for harmony, and dance – all in one package.  This expression of all four great human symbol systems (Language, Mathematics, Music, and Art) at one time is rare indeed!

Our bi-monthly community singalong and open jam honors a different singer, (e.g., B.B. King, Ronnie Milsap, Bob Dylan, et. al.) at each Hootenanny. This event is free with songbooks with words and chords provided. For info contact Vic Selby, 375-6141 or

Since the atmosphere is open to individual creative effort (go ahead and let loose) combined with a congenial social effort (at least we tune up), Hootenanny is a complete uplifting human experience.

COME ON ALONG! Vic Selby, Coordinator (375-6141)