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Reviewed by - Matt Rowe

The Best of Hootenanny

As fans of the old TV music variety shows can attest, this has certainly been a long time in coming.  Obviously clearing music rights is a quagmire that labels would just as soon bypass.  That’s especially true of multi-artists, half hour specials where everyone involved is going to want a piece of the DVD pie, and rightfully so.

There were several popular shows that captured the musical frenzy of viewers who enjoyed catching a glimpse of a song set of up and coming artists.  There were many in the world that included Britain’s Top of the Pops and The Old Grey Whistle Test, while America generated shows like Shindig, The Midnight Special, Don Kirschner’s Rock Concert, Motown Review, Soul Train, and Hullabaloo, to name just a few of the popular ones.

But before Shindig arrived in 1965, Hootenanny offered looks at singing groups as well as comedy skits in the young years of Rock.  Started in 1963, with host Jack Linkletter (son of Art Linkletter – remember him?), this Saturday night, half-hour variety show featured a stream of up and rising musicians, many of which you’ll recognize if you remember the period.  Most of the acts were folk, R&B, and gospel in nature, all underpinnings of Rock.  The show moved across college universities to provide its acts to a hip and a very receptive audience.

Hootenanny was successful for ABC, enough so that it would expand the show from its half-hour to a full hour.  However, ratings began to fall and by the autumn of the following year, Hootenanny was no longer.  But it blazed the trail for the coming varieties that would enjoy more success and showcase Rock as it moved from a folk style to a more rock orientation.

But no one will deny the importance of Hootenanny as it blazed brightly for the year that it was on television.  Shout! Factory provides a 3-disc set with a collection of some of the best artists from that show, many who went on to greater success in the years to come.  With a boxed slip-cover that contains three thin plastic cases that house each DVD, Shout! Factory begins the offering with what we hope will eventually yield the full season for Hootenanny, sets for Hullabaloo, Shindig!, Soul Train, Midnight Special, and even Don Kirschner’s Rock Concert.

The cool things that you’ll find in these discs are a very young Judy Collins, a pre-solo June Carter with The Carter Family, a beautiful and unmistakable pre-solo, Carly Simon (who sing a version of “Turn, Turn, Turn"), and other nuggets.  There is Barry McGuire, whose “Eve of Destruction” would post as a hit, as he played with The New Christy Minstrels, John Phillips with The Journeymen before he became a Papa with The Mamas and The Papas, and Johnny Cash.

But those artists were hardly the highlights of this show.  There were many that provided wonderful performances and a lot of them show up here.  There are the stunning, and well received, performances of Marion Williams & Stars of Faith (who will bring to mind Janis Joplin), as well as performances by bluegrass stars, Flatt & Scruggs.  As I understand, there are many who have not made it to this set (likely due to the aforementioned musical rights morass) such as a pre-Simon & Garfunkel incarnation.  But, with more than 80 performances by some 47 artists, and a few comedy sets by Louis Nye, Bill Cosby, Woody Allen, including a surprising political send-up by Vaughn Meader, there will be more than enough to entertain as you relive or enjoy this slice of history.

Regardless, this collection is very important in that it reveals and represents admirably the early periods of Rock.  If you remember these periods or are something of the archivist, then Shout! Factory’s brilliantly cleaned up video and sound will please the hell out of you.  I cannot recommend this Hootenanny 3DVD ‘best of’ enough to you.

Release Date: January 16, 2007
DVD Produced by: Robert S Bader
Format: DVD


Track Listing:

DVD 1 - Mighty Day (Chad Mitchell Trio) / What Shall We Do With a Drunken Sailor (Mike Settle) / Mama Don't Allow (The Rooftop Singers) / Froggie Went a Courtin' (The Rooftop Singers) / Comedy (Vaughn Meader) / Stakolee (The Journeymen) / Jesus Met The Woman at the Well (Ian & Sylvia) / Anathea (Judy Collins) / Follow the Drinking Gourd (Theodore Bikel) / When I Get Down to Bimini (Theodore Bikel) / Kisses Sweeter Than Wine (Judy Collins & Theodore Bikel) / Swing Low Sweet Chariot (The Clara Ward Gospel Singers) / Telling Those Lies About Me (Bob Gibson) / Greenwood Sidie-O (Ian & Sylvia) / Comedy (Woody Allen) / Green, Green (The New Christie Minstrels) / Browns Ferry Blues (Dian & The Greenbriar Boys) / He Was a Friend of Mine (Dian & The Greenbriar Boys) / Jerry (Joe & Eddie) / Farewell My Honey, Cindy Jane (Joe & Eddie) / Song of the Cuckoo (Eddy Arnold) / Poor Howard (Eddy Arnold) / Sing Out (The Serendipity Singers) / Haul Away Joe (Mike Settle) / Harlem Nocturne (Herbie Mann and His Sextet) / Down by the Riverside (Herbie Mann and His Sextet) / Sailing Away (The Serendipity Singers) / Kumbayah (The Southern Methodist University Ensemble.

DVD 2 - Midnight Special (The Limeliters) / Done Laid Around (The Limeliters) / C. C. Rider (Ian & Sylvia) / Ole Blue (Ian & Sylvia) / Charming Betsy (Richard & Jim) / I'm Going to Leave Old Texas Now (The Limeliters) / Hello Susan Brown (Chad Mitchell Trio) / The John Birch Society (Chad Mitchell Trio) / Let Your Light Shine FRom the Lighthouse Shine On Me (The Travelers Three) / Cottonfields (The Travelers Three) / Fair and Tender Ladies (The Carter Family) / Winkin' Blinkin' and Nod (The Simon Sisters) / Turn, Turn, Turn (The Simon Sisters) / Umqokozo (Miriam Makeba) / Love Tastes Like Strawberries (Miriam Makeba) / Comedy (Louis Nye) / Five Hundred Miles (The Brothers Four) / Reuben's Train (The Dillards) / Rocks and Gravel (Leon Bibb) / I'm On My Way (The Rooftop Singers) / I've Been Working On the Railroad (The Rooftop Singers) / Packin' Up (Marion Williams & Stars of Faith) / I've Got to Live The Life I Sing About In My Song (Marion Williams & Stars of Faith) / I'll Tell Me Ma (The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem) / Will Ye Go, Lassie? (The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem) / Saturday Night (The New Christy Minstrels) / Denver (The New Christy Minstrels) / Reilly's Daughter (The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem) / Michael Row The Boat Ashore (The New Christie Minstrels) / Hot Corn, Cold Corn (Flatt & Scruggs) / Reuben (Flatt & Scruggs) / Deep River Blues (Doc Watson) / He's Got The Whole World In His Hands (The University of Pittsburgh Ensemble).

DVD 3 - Hootenanny Saturday Night (The Travelers Three) / Bowling Green (The Travelers Three) / Good Morning Captain (The Travelers Three) / Water Boy (Jimmie Rodgers) / If I Had My Way (Jimmie Rodgers) / The Ox Driver's Song (The Brothers Four) / Hard Travelin' (The Brothers Four) / Angelico (Bud & Travis) / Lonesome Traveler (Trini Lopez) / If I Had a Hammer (Trini Lopez) / Four Strong Winds (The Brothers Four) / Comedy (Bill Cosby) / Little Tyke (The Coventry Singers) / To Morrow (Bob Gibson) / There's a Meetin' Here Tomight (Bob Gibson) / Busted (Johnny Cash) / Five Feet High (Johnny Cash) / Adieu Madras (Leon Bibb) / Little Boxes (Leon Bibb) / Delia's Gone (Josh White, Jr.) / Maid of Constant Sorrow (Beverly White) / One More Round (Hoyt Axton) / Trombone Charlie (Hoyt Axton) / Wayfarin' Stranger (Jimmie Rodgers) / Midnight Special (Jimmie Rodgers) / Pick a Bale of Cotton (The Tarriers) / Wimoweh (The Tarriers) / Good News, The Chariot's Coming (Bob Gibson) / Comedy (Jackie Vernon) / Marching to Pretoria (The University of Florida Ensemble).


Jack Linkletter - Host
See List of Artists in Track Listings .

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