"Hootenanny: A Community" opening June 19


Mark your calendars for a unique upcoming photography exhibit: Tony Nelson, who shoots concerts for publications like the Star Tribune and City Pages, has spent the last few years chronicling a movement in the local folk scene, the Mad Ripple Hootenanny led by writer and musician Jim Walsh. Held for two years in the basement of Java Jack's coffee shop in South Minneapolis before moving to the Beat Coffeehouse in Uptown this year, the Hootenanny has become the predominate showcase and gathering place for local singer-songwriters, and Nelson has been the from the beginning taking pictures and getting to know the recurring players.

Over the past three years, the lineup of Hoot performers has grown into a long and impressive list, including Dan Wilson, Billy Bragg, Ike Reilly, members of the Jayhawks, and many, many more. The complete list of performers is long enough to fill five typed pages. A few of the more prominent performers have come forward with testimonies about the Hoot to accompany the photo exhibit, and this quote by Dan Wilson is a highlight:

I had been reading books about the early days of Bob Dylan like "Positively 4th Street" and "Chronicles" and feeling like I was missing the more intimate and neighborly part of being a songwriter and performer. It was like I'd been living in the clouds too long. The Hoot was a way back to earth: if it was a performance, then all of us in the room were performers; or maybe all of us, including the ones with instruments on the stage, were the audience to our own home-brewed show.

The "Hootenanny: A Community" exhibit features some of the Hoot's most beloved players photographed in their natural habitats -- bedrooms, recording studios, street corners -- and the resulting series of portraits provides a fascinating glimpse at a group of people who have quietly created a new folk movement in the Twin Cities.

"I saw the 'Hoot' as a central hub for a diverse, new community that formed around it that I hadn't experienced in my years working with the music industry in the Twin Cities," writes Nelson. "The musicians, the fans, writers, photographers and others seemed to all be coming together in support of each other more than I'd ever seen."

The exhibit runs June 19 through July 24 at the Fox Tax Gallery (503 1st Ave NE, Minneapolis). The opening reception will be held on June 19 from 6 to 10 p.m., and immediately following the reception there will be a -- what else? -- hootenanny next door at the Red Stag Supperclub.