Event location: Arch Social Club, 2426 Pennsylvania Ave, Baltimore, MD 21217 (across from the library). Arch's dress code: No tennis shoes, jeans or t-shirts. Order a drink! Order some food! Support Arch Social Club!
Ru-Jac Records & The Legacy of Baltimore Soul is an event celebrating the history of the 1960s West Baltimore R&B record label through: 1. Performances of Ru-Jac songs by young Baltimore musicians with Ru-Jac stars Winfield Parker, Joe Quarterman as well as Joy Postell! 2. A panel discussion that takes a deep look into the Ru-Jac record label’s place in the era’s bustling music scene. The event will take place at Arch Social Club, a century-old African-American organization that has been centered in Penn North neighborhood, close to Ru-Jac's headquarters, for over 40 years. Arch Social Club is the last surviving music lounge in the Penn-North area, a neighborhood once filled with venues including the historic Royal Theater.
To connect the generations of Baltimore to their rich, largely forgotten musical heritage, using the music of Ru-Jac Records and the story of Rufus Mitchell as a vehicle to reveal the city’s vibrant musical past and uncover important stories of black entrepreneurship.
Ru-Jac Records, located at 427 Laurens Street, was owned and operated by Rufus E. Mitchell. An associate of the notorious yet empowering business man Little Willie Adams, Mr. Mitchell was for decades one of the central figures of the Baltimore’s black entertainment scene. Among other places, Mitchell booked at the Baltimore Civic Center (now the Royal Farms Arena), the historic Royal Theatre and the legendary Carr's Beach, a segregation-era beach for African-Americans that Mitchell and Little Willie turned into a top east coast destination. As general manager of Carr’s Beach, Mitchell booked the most famous black acts of its time to perform, including Billie Holiday, Ray Charles, Chuck Berry, Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklin and James Brown. Mitchell’s life is a prime example of black business people turning injustice on its head and finding paths for success.
Through his Ace Bookings business, Rufus maintained a roster of some the area’s very best black pop talent whom he often booked as openers for famous acts. In the early 1960s Rufus began Ru-Jac Records, recording sides for most of his Ace Bookings roster including early Ru-Jac star Winfield Parker, duo Gene & Eddie, Rita Doryse and a young Arthur Conley. Thanks to Mitchell’s relationship with Otis Redding, Redding later produced and co-wrote Conley’s giant hit, “Sweet Soul Music” a #2 Billboard Top 100 hit and enduring soul anthem. Ru-Jac was a launching pad not only for Conley; Winfield Parker and Sir Joe Quarterman found success after the head start provided by Ru-Jac. Ru-Jac Records helps tell the story of a dynamic Baltimore music scene and an ambitious black entrepreneur at the center.
The talent, energy and dynamic ingenuity of 1960s Baltmore is ripe for rediscovery and reclamation of local artistic inheritance. It all starts with this event, Ru-Jac Records & The Legacy of Baltimore Soul.
8pm $10, $8 members (+$3 at the door)
The Robert W. Deutsch Foundation
Ru-Jac Records & The Legacy of Baltimore Soul is made possible through a fellowship grant from The Robert W. Deutsch Foundation, which “exists to promote innovation in science and technology, arts, education and social justice.”
About Arch Social Club
We are so excited that the Ru-Jac Records show is happening at one of the most historic venues in town, Arch Social Club! The African-American men’s organization has existed since 1905 and has been at the corner of Pennsylvania and North Avenue for over forty years. It is the last surviving music venue on a vibrant Pennsylvania Avenue strip once filled with them. Among the venues on the strip was The Royal Theater, one of the premier venues for black entertainment in the nation along with The Apollo in New York City and The Howard in D.C. Located just blocks away from this Baltimore hub of black music at 427 Laurens St. was Ru-Jac Records.
Why the dress code?
Arch does have a dress code: no sneakers, no jeans and no t-shirts. While the policy may seem overly old-school, the philosophy behind it promotes respectability to a neighborhood that has seen better days. The CVS across the street was on fire during the Baltimore Uprising of two years ago. In the immediate aftermath, Arch Social Club opened its doors offering water, sandwiches and use of their restrooms during protests and clean-ups. For its links to the past and the present, Arch Social Club is a place worth celebrating.
There are two parking lots available for the event. A small lot is behind the library directly across from Arch on Pennsylvania Ave. A larger lot is just a block north of Arch behind the Social Services building at 2500 Pennsylvania Ave, Baltimore, MD 21217. The Penn North subway station is right next to Arch Social Club and of course Uber and Lyft are available as well.