It was winter of '98 when the tireless crew at Frederick's Music Lounge started enduring St. Louis' endless supply of live sonic gold every Thursday night, serving up the Stag to obliterate the inhibitions of the timid and providing a refuge for the heckled and heckler alike. According to manager and Fred-tamer Paul Stark, "Unlike many other open-mic nights, at Hootenanny each act is given the opportunity to play just two songs and must be prepared to start immediately after the previous act finishes. This makes the night move very quickly. Most Thursdays we have more than 25 different acts come across the stage between 8 p.m. and 1 a.m. It's a chance to see and hear some of the best and worst musicians from the Midwest and beyond." Any questions? Move along, then, and let the next Hootie up to bat.