It's shortly after 8 on a Monday night at the Rose Bowl Tavern, the home of country music in Champaign-Urbana.
Wearing his signature cowboy hat, singer-songwriter John Coppess sits with an expectant air at a small table near the stage.
Country music plays loudly over the speakers until Dustin Norder, a young musician who plays with the bluegrass group Corn Desert Ramblers, takes the microphone.
"Hey, everybody, welcome to the Urbana Hootenanny," he says.
People hoot and holler.
"This is our good friend, John Coppess," Norder continues. "He's going to play some original tunes. If anyone wants to play come to me or my partner, Sam Payne, and we'll get you signed up."
Sounding a bit like Leonard Cohen, Coppess starts off with a cowboy song he wrote about Wild Bill Hickok and then performs for 30 minutes, singing original and traditional songs while accompanying himself on guitar.
Over the course of the evening, other singer-songwriters take their own turns on stage. Among them are Paul Kotheimer, Marten Stromberg, Rory Book, Kyle Macgargle and JP Goguen.
After Goguen plays a few tunes, though, he asks if anyone else wants to "get up and play."
Erin Erdman, who's wearing black from her cowboy hat on down, joins him on stage with her mandolin.
Over the next few hours the number of musicians behind the wooden rail of the small stage morphs from one to seven to five back to one. And other configurations.
A few are beginners. Others are more experienced and have been part of the local music scene for years.
The music ranges from country to folk to quirky folk-rock to bluegrass. The only thing it has in common: It's acoustic.
"Nobody comes and plugs in an electric guitar or brings a drum set," Payne said.
"We try to keep it focused that way and it's turned out great."
An award-winning flatpick guitarist who plays with the Corn Desert Ramblers, Payne, with Norder, started the weekly Urbana Hootenanny in March as an outgrowth of the Ramblers' Tuesday night gig at the Rose Bowl in downtown Urbana.
The Hootenanny is not a typical open-mic night because there's a lot of "spontaneous collaboration," Norder said. And the musicians seem to appreciate that.
"I get to play with incredible musicians every week and get to perform some great bluegrass tunes with great players," said 24-year-old Sara Sasaki, who studied classical violin at Oberlin College and while there played in a bluegrass band.
The Urbana Hootenanny also offers a great way for young musicians who don't perform in public to play to a "very open and responsive crowd in a comfortable atmosphere," said Sasaki, who plays with three classical orchestras.
Stromberg, a 30-year-old University of Illinois rare books librarian, played Sept. 24 at the Hootenanny for the second time.
He plans to return.
"A lot of great musicians play here," he said. "You can learn a lot by watching them. You get to play music for musicians who are good. It's a rewarding experience."
The Urbana Hootenanny is one reason Erdman, a 2006 UI graduate in philosophy, returned here from Austin, Texas. The Hootenanny reminds her of Texas and at the same time of why she wanted to come back here to live in Urbana, she said.
"For people who play acoustic music, especially bluegrass, this is the event of the week," she said.
It's also becoming a draw for people who don't perform but want to come and listen, and maybe dance.
One is Jane Marshall, a Ph.D. candidate in the University of Illinois social work program.
"I love this because the music is really good," she said while standing at the bar and sipping a beer. "It's local musicians from different genres. You have people from The Curses, who do sort of vaudeville tunes. People who do bluegrass. You have people who are multi-instrumentalists. The drinks are cheap. There's no cover. Then the people who come are very cool.
"It's a chill Monday."
Among others in the audience that night were visitors to Urbana, Jeff Kahn and Alice Friedemann, both of Oakland, Calif.
Friedemann picked up on the warmth and support among the musicians; she said Bay Area musicians often try to "out old-time" each other. Kahn, her 64-year-old husband, expressed appreciation for the name of the weekly event.
"Hallejuhah, I've arrived at a place where they dare speaketh the word 'hootenanny' again," joked Kahn, who said his son makes fun of the word and that some communities and generations don't use it any more.
That prompted Kahn's friend, Jeff Zolitor of Urbana, to look up "hootenanny" on his smartphone. He found that it defines a social gathering or informal concert featuring folk singing and — sometimes — dancing.
It also refers to an informal session at which folk singers and instrumentalists perform for their own enjoyment.
Payne, 27, came up with the term for the Urbana event.
"I just liked it. I thought it was a good word," he said.
If you go What: Urbana Hootenanny, a weekly open-mic/jam session organized by Sam Payne and Dustin Norder, members of the Corn Desert Ramblers When: 8 p.m. to midnight Mondays Where: Rose Bowl Tavern, 106 N. Race St., U Cover: Free