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TV: ABC’s “Hootenanny”

Apr. 13, 1963 - To capitalize on the national vogue for folk music — particularly among college students — ABC has begun a Saturday-night series of network telecasts called “Hootenanny.” The programs began a week ago, the premiere originating at the University of Michigan, where a group of professional folk singers and members of the audience alternated in a group of traditional selections. The network is planning to make it a regular Saturday-night feature in the fall, with other campuses as the locations for the programs. Richard Lewine, producer of the series, said: “We could get an ordinary studio audience to applaud — or to stand on their heads — but we couldn’t influence a college audience if it didn’t want to be influenced. At the same time, a college audience gets the best out of the performers, because they know they’re being understood.” The programs are taped in the informal atmosphere of a gymnasium or ballroom with no chairs on the floor. “When the audience is seated in chairs, it’s more inhibited,” the producer said. “It’s not inclined to join in. But when they’re sitting on the floor, they respond.” The singers that have participated so far include the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, the Limeliters, the Chad Mitchell Trio, Theodore Bikel, Miriam Makeba, and the Smothers Brothers. Fred Weintraub, who owns the Greenwich Village coffeehouse called The Bitter End, is the talent consultant for the show.


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