Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Season 1, Episode 2


Brown University, Providence RI #1


Airdate: April 13, 1963
Repeat: July 13, 1963
Theodore Bikel: "Two Brothers," "Dodi Lee," “Daddy Roll ‘Em” (with The Journeymen), “Mighty Day” (with The Journeymen).
The Journeymen: "500 Miles," "I May Be Right."
Ian & Sylvia: "Mary Ann," "Rocks and Gravel."
The Rooftop Singers: "Walk Right In," "Good Time."
FINALE: "Railroad Bill" (Everyone).


The Brown University episodes were taped the week of March 4, 1963, and a reporter from Newsweek was there:

The Folknik Show

On a small platform set up in Brown University's Sayles Hall, a trio of folk singers called the Journeymen lastg week were picking their hushed, melodic way through a plaintive song called "Five Hundred Miles" [as] some 600 Brown and Pembroke students watched in reverent silence.  Almost nobody watched a pretty blond student in their midst who, enraptured, sat nodding her head faintly and then, quietly and absent-mindedly, joined in.  Almost nobody, that is, except a few people near a TV monitor in a corner and an ABC-TV cameraman who was relaying her face onto tape from which, one Saturday night this spring, it will be watched by millions of Americans as part of an exciting new series called "Hootenanny"...
When Brown authorities passed out 600 free tickets to the taping of two half-hour shows, the line formed two and a half hours early.  "This is the greatest thing that ever happened to Pembroke," one young student said with conviction.  

Most important, the show's makers have had the sense to let folk music enter the mass medium on its own terms, which are strictly informal and spontaneous...  The result is a sprightly show in which TV's usually sluggish cameras come alive, move around, and actually use their eyes.

Dick Weissman, John Phillips and Scott McKenzie of The Journeymen.
This result has not been achieved without a lot of skepticism on all sides...  "The basis of folk music is honesty," said the Journeymen's John Phillips.  A harassed "Hootenanny" executive put it differently.  "It's a smear of music," he said...  "Some of these groups are so undisciplined musically that they never do the same number in the same amount of time twice."

These difficulties have been drowned by "Hootenanny's" twin assets- clean, compelling music and its contagiously enthusiastic reception...  The big question remaining is whether there will be enough enthusiastic home viewers to keep "Hootenanny" on the air.  "Even the people doing the show are afraid in their heart of hearts that there may not be enough [viewers]," [Theo] Bikel said, "so they try to do it fast and snappy to attract everybody."  (Newsweek, issue of March 18, 1963)

Bikel and the producers needn't have worried.  According to Variety, the premiere drew a 26% audience share in the Nielsen 30-market survey, increasing to 32% with this stanza, a ratings jump made "wholly at the expense of [CBS-TV's] The Defenders."  By the time these numbers came in, talk had begun about renewing HOOTENANNY for the fall and expanding it to an hour.  But behind the scenes a controversy was growing and about to explode.

No recordings or kinescopes are known to exist for this program.

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