Thursday, July 10, 2014

Season 1, Episode 1

HOOTENANNY and its competition.
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor #1

Airdate: April 6, 1963 
Repeat: July 6, 1963

The Limeliters: "I Had a Mule," "Wake Up, Dunia," "The Riddle Song."

Bud & Travis: "Raspberries, Strawberries," "Delia's Gone."

Bob Gibson: "Good News," "Yes I See" (with the Limeliters).

Bonnie Dobson: "She's Like a Swallow," "Fare Thee Well" (with Bob Gibson).

FINALE: "Mary Don't You Weep" (Everyone).

The first HOOTENANNY to air was actually the sixth one taped. The pilot, which became episode 13, took place in November 1962, while the performances at George Washington University (episodes 5 & 11) and Brown University (episodes 2 & 8) preceded this show.

In his review for the New York Times, Jack Gould called it "a thoroughly pleasant and enterprising departure from the staid programming norm.  Mark it down as the hit of the spring....  When the student body joined in, the ensemble effect had a delightful charm and warmth.  The Michigan undergraduates certainly put it all over Mitch Miller's creaky chorale."

UPI's Rick DuBrow, on the other hand, couldn't resist inserting a few snide comments about folk music in general and HOOTENANNY'S host in particular: "A folk-singing show hosted by Jack Linkletter is something akin to a symposium on Henry Miller presided over by Donna Reed.  Yet the weekend brought such a folk music program, a new weekly half-hour series called 'Hootenanny' on ABC-TV....  The University of Michigan was the setting for the premiere, with a packed audience providing good reaction shots as well as a singalong device....
"Happily, Linkletter kept almost entirely out of things, which was almost enough; and the result was that 'Hootenanny' had a number of pleasant things to recommend it....  (It) is good to see a show that is virtually 'live,' and pays attention to an intelligent group of college students.  I don't know how pure the folk singing was.  But it was nice again to hear the Limeliters singing something other than a commercial; and [Bob] Gibson picks a pretty mean, rollicking banjo.  I continue to maintain, however, that the lyrics of most folk songs are as purely idiotic as opera plots, and as childishly dramatic as college seniors passing on the gospel to awed freshmen by candlelight....  What's more, 'Hootenanny' has another unique attraction: The various college students should be inspired by Linkletter's example of how a young fellow of no particular talent can get ahead at such an early age."

No kinescope or complete recording of this show is known to exist.  A YouTube user named John Meyer has uploaded a brief excerpt consisting of two songs featuring the Limeliters: "Wake Up Dunia" and "Yes I See," the latter including Bob Gibson, who also wrote it.


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