The Mad Ripple Hootenanny is a round-robin style songwriter collective hosted by writer/journalist/columnist/songwriter Jim Walsh (Hoot host, singer, songwriter; columnist, Southwest Journal; journalist, MinnPost; and author) that celebrates 10 years of “songs, stories, shenanigans, spontaneity, and community” in November, 2016. While the single mainstay of the Hoot is Walsh, each night is unique as the songwriter line-ups change from week to week, creating a one-night-only chemistry set of conviviality – for both performers and audience. “I sometimes think the Hoot is a return to the old world of pubs and troubadours, wherein a single song sung by a single person can fill a room with emotion and meaning,” said Walsh.
“For the patient listener and audience, it’s a really rich experience. Hootenannies have been around since the days of Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie; the word’s origins are Scottish. I like it for its nod to punk rock and rock & roll via the Replacements’ record of the same name and because it suggests movement, a happening. I started it because I was frustrated with going to hear songwriters in coffee shops and not being able to hear the tunes over the people talking. I wanted to provide a forum where songs were respected, and heard. Also, I get the chance to sing and play with some of the most amazing and creative people around, and it’s a helluva lot of fun just bringing people together who might not otherwise hang out together.” The Hoot was started in November 2006 at Java Jack’s coffeehouse (now Studio 2A) in Sexy South Minneapolis, where it resided every Friday for two years (and ultimately shut down by the fire marshal), and brought together some 300 songwriters from around Minneapolis, St. Paul, and beyond.
Since then it has landed as a weekly residency or as one-off multi-night stands at venues across Minnesota and beyond, including the Beat Coffeehouse, First Avenue, the Walker Art Center, the Parkway Theater, the Aster Café, the Guthrie Theater, Kings Wine Bar, and Harriet Brewing in Minneapolis; Fitger’s Brewhouse (Duluth); Chapel and Contented Cow (Northfield); Papa Charlie’s in Lutsen; Linden Hills Farmer’s Market (Minneapolis); the Mankato Brew Pub; the Coho in Palo Alto, Ca.; Banjo Jim’s in New York City, and the Turf Club and the Amsterdam Bar and Hall in St. Paul. “It’s been great as a one-off, but I think it really works best as a weekly event, where each week feeds on the previous one, and it becomes a staple of the work week,” said Walsh. “It’s so great when songwriters come out to hear other songwriters, even when they’re not performing. That’s what it’s about for me. Non-joiners joining up for a few hours together.”
Over the years the Hoot’s collaborative magic has been created by hundreds of songwriters coming together for a one-night-only song and story swap, from the little-known to the known, including Billy Bragg, Slim Dunlap, Joel Bremer, Eliza Blue, Elvis Perkins, Tift Merritt, Ashleigh Still, KaiserCartel, Lianne Smith, Venus Demars, Mare Lennon, Adam Levy, Jennifer Markey, Tim O’Reagan, Julia Douglass, Katy Vernon, Lucy Michelle, the Starfolk, Jerry Lefkowicz, Jack Klatt, Alexi Moon Casselle, Miss Becky Kapell, Jack Torrey, Kevin Bowe, Stook!, Dan Wilson, Rude Girl, Mary Beth Hanson, Jessy Greene, Thomas Kivi, Mayda, Rob and Leah Rule, Molly Maher, Curtiss A, Gabriel Douglas, Erik Koskinen, Nicole Helget, Brianna Lane, Rick Widen, Ike Reilly, Channy Leaneagh, Adam Levy, Andrea Swensson, Andrea Suchy, John Louis, Nick Leet, Randy Casey, Meg Ashling, Michael Morris, Pablo Jones, The Tropicals, Tom Morello, Boots Riley, Marc Perlman, Frankie Lee, Chastity Brown, Mother Banjo, Ed Ackerson, The Frye, Gretchen Seichrist, Janey Winterbauer, Golden Smog, Shawn Gibbons, Jim Hanneman, Terry Walsh, Jay Walsh, Helen Heyer-Walsh, Henry Heyer-Walsh, The Falls, Phil Solem, Martin Devaney, Ben Kyle and the entire Kyle family, Joe Fahey, Willie Murphy, Fran King, Duncan Maitland, Courtney Yasmineh, Anna Mitchell, James Loney, Chris Osgood, Steve Almaas, Billy Batson, Johnny Solomon, Chan Poling, Dan Israel, Alison Rae, Jonathan Delehanty, Jeff Arundel, Billy Mclaughlin, Gini Dodds, Tommy Mischke, Dana Thompson, Natalie Lovejoy, and more.