Joel Schiavone

House Party co-host and raconteur Joel Schiavone entertains the guests. (photo by Eric Devine)

Joel Schiavone, founder of the Your Father’s Mustache chain of venues for banjo bands and traditional jazz, died on April 22nd, he was 87. Starting in 1961, with the Your Father’s Mustache name beginning in 1964, his venues, in eight major U.S. cities, Canada, England, and Belgium, helped to extend the craze for old-timey ambiance into the mid 70s and beyond, spreading joyful music to succeeding generations and giving many musicians steady work along the way. The official YFM band played the Whitehouse in 1965, had an album on the charts, and Time Magazine called Your Father’s Mustache “THE venue of the day”.

A graduate of Harvard and Yale with a visionary business mind he was deeply committed to New Haven Connecticut and is widely credited with the revitalization of the city’s downtown from near abandonment in the 1970s into a model of “new urbanism”, long before that phrase was coined.  Known locally both as “Mr. Downtown” and “New Haven’s Don Quixote”, he ran for office several times and is remembered for camping out on the local coliseum in an attempt to keep his AHL hockey team in town. Whatever he attempted he approached with optimism and enthusiasm.

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Schiavone helped the Great Connecticut Traditional Jazz Festival continue after 1990, and when Connecticut was finally left without a traditional jazz fest he started hosting an annual “House Party” in the 2010, with co-host Jeff Barnhart, that attracted both fans and talent to the area. A fine banjo player he appeared with the Galvanized Jazz Band for decades.

Joe Bebco is the Associate Editor of The Syncopated Times and Webmaster of

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