One week ago tonight, I was privileged to attend The Hoover Hootenanny in Asbury Park, N.J.. This was the sixth go-round for the Hootenanny, but, for one reason or another—mostly because they’re in Asbury Park and I live a thousand miles away in St. Louis—I was never able to attend before. But this year, with a favorable work schedule, a newly retired wife and the realization that, hey, I’m not gettin’ any younger, I decided to make the trip. It didn’t take too much work to convince Jean to come along with me.
Put on by my college friend and the Best Man at our wedding, Geoff, along with his wife, Tatiana, the Hoover Hootenanny is a gathering of their enormous circle of friends, most of whom play music in one form or another. So “the Hoot” is music, from start to finish.
We flew from St. Louis Saturday morning, and arrived in Asbury Park early in the afternoon, with enough time to recharge a little before heading over to Geoff’s house. They actually have a barn in their back yard—Tatiana said when they were house-hunting and she saw the barn, she decided immediately that the house was for them—which makes a perfect backdrop for a small wooden stage. One of their sons had created a banner with caricatures of many past Hootenanny performers to hang behind the stage.
For a bunch of mostly amateur musicians, the quality of the music was surprisingly good. There was a wide range of styles, from punk to metal to country to folk. In the reverse of a typical lineup, Geoff scheduled the louder acts toward the beginning, with the country and folk performers near the end, in part to try to keep the neighbors happy.
Geoff asked me and a few other friends to sing backup on a couple of songs he performed with his old band The Noise. We did David Bowie’s Rebel Rebel, followed by Prince’s Purple Rain; both iconic songs by artists who had died since the last Hoot. Maybe our versions weren’t the most melodic renditions of those songs ever, but those of us on the stage and I think everybody in the crowd had a great time. The purple confetti during the second song added a nice touch.
Speaking of the crowd, the Hoover back yard could not have held many more people. Everyone said it was the most-attended Hoot yet. Me, I’m already looking forward to the next one.
Here are a few pictures from the Hoot, that will perhaps show the variety of stage acts that night.