Past Events

Exploring the Rise and Fall of Paramount Records

Jack White (Third Man Records, Lazaretto)
Greil Marcus (Rolling StoneThe BelieverThe History of Rock ‘n Roll in Ten Songs)
Dean Blackwood (Revenant Records)
Scott Blackwood (Revenant Records)
Adia Victoria (Musician, “Stuck in the South”)
Daphne Brooks (Professor, African American Studies & Theater, Yale University)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014 • 7PM

Battell Chapel
Corner of College and Elm Streets
New Haven, Connecticut
Free and open to the public

Paramount Records was founded on a modest proposition: produce records as cheaply as possible, recording whatever talent was available. Over its lifetime (1917-1932), the label compiled a dizzying array of performers still unrivaled to this day, spanning early jazz titans (Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller), blues masters (Charley Patton, Skip James), American divas (Ma Rainey, Ethel Waters), gospel, vaudeville, hillbilly, and more.  But how did a Wisconsin chair company, run by men with little knowledge of their audience or the music business, build one of the greatest musical rosters ever assembled under one roof? How and why were its fortunes directly linked to the Great Migration, and what is Paramount’s legacy today?

This will be an evening of musical exploration and conversation, unpacking the label’s rich history and celebrating the release of Volumes 1 & 2 of The Rise and Fall of Paramount Records 1917-1932, an epic omnibus jointly released by Jack White’s Third Man Records and Revenant Records.  The program will feature a dynamic conversation between roundtable participants and highlight a profound listening experience as each participant plays a selected song in its entirety and discusses its deeper implications and dimensions.

Sponsored by the Yale Department of African American Studies, the Program in American Studies at Yale, the Program in Theater Studies at Yale, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Yale, and Sound Hall.


George Lipsitz
Midnight at the Barrelhouse: The Johnny Otis Story

Tuesday, November 15, 2011 • 5:30PM


Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library
121 Wall Street
New Haven, Conn.
Free and open to the public


“Johnny Otis is one of the most important figures in the history of R&B and Rock and Roll. Through mentoring and showcasing so many brilliant stars in his legendary live revues and incredible bands, his contributions as writer/player and producer of so many seminal recordings, and his decades of hosting his beloved West Coast radio show, his legacy as Professor Emeritus of R&B will forever remain intact.” — Bonnie Raitt


Johnny Otis was born John Veliotes, the son of working-class immigrants from Greece, who ended up changing American popular culture through his groundbreaking work in music, art, writing, radio, and television. But his most meaningful legacy has been his work in challenging the racial inequality and polarization he witnessed everyday in his extended engagement with Black music, culture, and daily life.


Join us for a rare visit by Professor George Lipsitz (UC Santa Barbara, Black Studies) as he talks about what he learned from Johnny Otis in writing MIDNIGHT AT THE BARRELHOUSE. George Lipsitz is an American Studies scholar and Professor in Black Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is a leading scholar in social movements, urban culture, inequality, and the politics of popular culture. His other books include FOOTSTEPS IN THE DARK, THE POSSESSIVE INVESTMENT IN WHITENESS, A LIFE IN THE STRUGGLE, and TIME PASSAGES. He also serves as chairman of the board of directors of the African American Policy Forum and is a member of the board of directors of the National Fair Housing Alliance.


Ian Svenonius
with moderator, Brian Francis Slattery


Monday, October 25, 2010 • 6PM


Detritus at Project Storefronts
71 Orange Street
New Haven, Conn.
Free and open to the public


Ian Svenonius is a musician, notable as the singer and mouthpiece of various Washington, D.C.-based music groups including Nation of Ulysses, The Make-Up, Weird War, and Chain and The Gang. Between his numerous projects, Svenonius has released more than 15 full-length albums and more than 20 singles, EPs, and splits. Svenonius is the author of The Psychic Soviet (2006), and is also host of Soft Focus on VBS.TV. Svenonius’ projects and writings have all shared an anti-authoritarian, populist, tongue-in-cheek political agenda.


Brian Slattery is a writer and an editor at The New Haven Review. He has published two novels, Spaceman Blues: A Love Song (Tor, 2007) and Liberation: Being the Adventures of the Slick Six After the Collapse of the United States of America (Tor, 2008). Spaceman Blues was nominated for best novel by both the Lambda Literary Awards and the Gaylactic Spectrum Awards. He is a freelance editor specializing in publications on economics, public policy, and international affairs. He also writes about public policy and the arts.