Friday, November 6, 2020

What Might've Been: Hootenanny (1963)

 Folk music was all the rage prior to the British Invasion of the mid-60's. ABC capitalized on it, if but for a relatively short time.

Hootenanny premiered in the spring of 1963, touring college campuses around the country. Jack Linkletter served as host, but almost didn't land the gig. Humorist Jean Shepard had actually taped the pilot, but was replaced at the last minute by Linkletter, forcing new segments to be edited in.

After the initial 13 week spring run, Hootenanny was renewed, and expanded to an hour. The series opened space for stand-up comedy, including the network television debut of Bill Cosby. The Serendipity Singers spun out of the show, meant, reportedly, as a rival to the New Christy Minstrels.

However, changing musical tastes, as the British Invasion took hold in the US, resulted in ABC cancelling the show shortly after a 3rd season renewal had been announced. This resulted in Shindig! debuting in the fall of 1964.

Following is a portion of a January 1964 episode headlined by country icon Johnny Cash, who'd land his own series on ABC a few years later, taped at the University of Florida.


Rating: A.

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