Best Video Film & Cultural Center hosts Anniversary Open House & Fundraiser Sat., Nov. 16

On Saturday, November 16, 2019, Best Video Film & Cultural Center (BVFCC), celebrating its fourth anniversary as a nonprofit, will host its Fall Open House & “Fun”draising Extravaganza—a full day of festivity, pageantry, and fun for all ages. If you attended last year’s Open House, you know you’re in for a treat.

Everybody is welcome to come and enjoy what Best Video has to offer that day. It is our main fall fundraiser—our main spring fundraiser is the online Great Give in May—and we count on it. There is no set donation amount but we encourage all to contribute whatever they can—and/or become a Best Video Film & Cultural Center member—to keep BVFCC open and running.

There will be a table run by staff and Best Video Board members to meet you, sign up new members, renew memberships and receive donations.

BVFCC, has been running the former Best Video as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization since November, 2015. The organization’s mission is to “bring film, music and people together.” BVFCC curates an archive of over 30,000 titles assembled by original owner Hank Paper; presents regular music, film-related and literary events; and maintains a welcoming space for the community.

We invite you to our celebration on November 16. Please join us if you can, help put the “fun” in “fun”draiser! And remember, we love seeing you all each and every day. And each day in November is a day that you can donate. Come in and see us. Please help to make our fundraising efforts a success. You always have! We thank you wholeheartedly.

If you can’t make it on Saturday, you can still donate online and/or become a member online!


9 AM-Noon: Best Video Kids’ Music & Cartoon PJ Party

9:30 AM (or so) • Cartoons chosen by Best Video staffer Michael Wheatley & Dave Schmidt

10:30 AM • Music by Val McKee & Robert Messore

Noon • Prizes given out to winners of our second Student Art Show and display of all the entries

Noon-2 PM • The Caseus Cheese Truck at Best Video

1 PM • Open Mic for Kids 18 and younger

1-4 PM • Best Cookie Contest: Almost 20 bakers compete to see who bakes the “Best Cookie,” with two winners chosen by a poll of attendees! (Two great gift certificate prizes)

2 PM • Movie Trivia: BVFCC staffer Rob Harmon leads a 20-question preview of a new, in-the-works monthly trivia event ($50 BVFCC gift certificate prize)

3 PM • Music by The Blind Mice, a trio featuring members of the Hamden High School Jazz Combo.

4 PM (or so) • Short Films from 48 Hour Film Project New Haven

5-7 PM • Taqueria Cinco food truck at Best Video, free beer from Black Hog Brewing, Inc. (1 per attendee over 21 while supplies last)

5 PM • Rob Harmon’s “Secret Cinema”

5:30 (or so) • Short Films from 48 Hour Film Project New Haven

6 PM • Music by Bronson Rock (Rock/Soul/R&B)

7 PM (or so) • Short Films from 48 Hour Film Project New Haven

8:30 PM • Music by Thabisa (Afro-Soul)


Music: Tariku—inheritors of Mandingo Ambassadors local mantle—play West African music Fri., Nov. 22

Tariku—which includes members of The Mandingo Ambassadors, including guitarist Mamady Kouyate and vocalist Aaron Greenberg—play Best Video Performance Space Friday, Nov. 22. The show starts at 8 PM and the cover is $15.

The music of Tariku is driven by the graceful and ebullient interlocking polyrhythms for which West African music has become famous. This is the region musicologists credit with the roots of jazz, blues, funk, and hip hop, and that sonic DNA is clearly audible in the playing of percussionists Mangue Sylla and Matt Dean, drum set player Avery Collins, and bassist Frank Brocklehurst. Coloring inside these percussive lines are the smooth, elegantly filigreed guitar lines of lead guitarist, Mamady “Jelike” Kouyate Also leader of The Mandingo Ambassadors), and the swirling yet unerringly precise cascades of young flute phenom Dylan McDonnell. Rounding out the melodic mix, Arouna Kouyate doubles on the kora- a 21 string calabash harp with a tone like the beautiful lovechild of a lute and an oud- and the vocals, whose flavor to Western ears might fall somewhere between Flamenco and the blues.

Our influences range from the almost operatic style of classical Mandè virtuosos like Kouyate Sory Kandia and Toumani Diabate, to the golden age West African jazz bands like Balla et Ses Balladins and Bembeya Jazz National. The result is a surprisingly versatile and accessible sound which can be both mild and sweet enough to serve as a unique alternative to a jazz combo or string quartet, or bold and lively enough to drive people onto the dance floor.

In Maninka, the language of the former Mandén Empire (c.1230-c.1630) “Tariku” means “chronicle”. It refers to the treasure trove of musical literature kept these 800 years by a hereditary caste of bards called the jelilu (singular, jeli).

At the same time that epics like The Song of Roland and The Poem of the Cid were being sung in the castles of medieval Europe, the Mandén tariku or “chronicles of Mandén” were being performed in the courts of medieval West Africa. These epics are rich with high adventure, great battles, palace intrigues, cunning sorceresses, stalwart warriors, and august kings. Basically, imagine Game of Thrones, but with the cast of Black Panther, and you’re halfway there.

Our musical and historical director, El Hajj Mamady “Jelike” Kouyate, holds the eminent position of Jeli Kuntigi (literally “Headmaster”) of the Society of Mandén Jelilu of the Americas. As the foremost authority in this hemisphere on his people’s musico-historical tradition, he has charged us with the task (no pressure) of elevating and popularizing this tragically underappreciated art form here in the west. In the spirit of this, we strive to present these timeless pieces in a way that will be at once accessible and entertaining for American listeners, and also painstakingly faithful to the tradition. The result is a performance that falls somewhere between classical and jazz, between storytelling and song, between ancient and modern.

Click here for the complete list of upcoming events.

Music: Robert Messore organizes Best Beatles Sing-along for Thurs., Nov. 21, at 7:30 PM

Robert Messore presents an evening of Beatles sing-alongs at Best Video Performance Space on Thursday, Nov. 21. The show starts at 7:30 PM and admission is a suggested $10-20 donation.

Messore organized the show to honor the memory of Hamden resident Steve Weston, who loved The Beatles. Steve died of ALS in July and proceeds from the evening will go to the ALS Association. Songs to be led by Chrissy Gardner, Seth Adam, Pierce Campbell, Hank Hoffman, Paul Bryant Hudson, and Robert Messore.

Robert Messore (meh-sor’-ee) has been called “Connecticut’s finest fingerstyle guitarist.” He plays beautiful instrumental guitar music and he is noted for composing tuneful pieces that work well as music, and not simply as fancy guitar playing. Robert has been called “the Heart of the New Haven Folk Scene” for his vital and many-faceted contributions as solo performer, side man, recording artist, teacher and concert presenter (working on several concert series and the Connecticut Folk Festival).

Currently, Pierce Campbell plays a variety of music which showcase his versatility. He performs solo singing and playing original and Celtic folk, American pop and Jazz classics. He performs Irish and original Celtic folk with The Kerry Boys, traditional Jazz with The Funky Butt Jazz Band, vocal Jazz classics and originals with The Pierce Campbell Jazz Duo/Trio and pop rock classics with 60’s Satisfaction. During the day, he entertains seniors at venues throughout CT. Pierce has been playing guitar and singing most of his life, receiving high praise for his dazzling guitar work, superb songwriting, and powerful vocals.

Chrissy Gardner is a singer-songwriter originally from Chicago, IL. Whether from behind a piano, holding a guitar or standing at the front of the stage with mic in hand, she belts out her tunes in a style that is often compared to both classic and contemporary singer/songwriters, but also has real shades of hard rocking Blues and R&B.

Paul Bryant Hudson has been tearing up the stages of Cafe Nine, Pacific Standard Tavern, and other places all over town for a few years now. With a stunning voice and serious keyboard chops, he fronts a seriously tight band with a style of Soul Music that pays homage to the past and feels up to the minute.

Singer/songwriter Seth Adam writes compelling, genuine songs with honest lyrics. The alt-country, Americana rocker draws comparisons to Counting Crows, Tom Petty, Ryan Adams, and Jason Isbell. 2016 was a turning point in his career as he wrote and recorded songs out of a hobbled together, home studio space. Playing all of the instruments, engineering, producing, and everything else-ing on his own resulted in an EP called East Rock. The experience inspired him to continue to do much of the same for the foreseeable future, foregoing using the formal recording studios.

Hank Hoffman, executive director of Best Video Film & Cultural Center, has led the psychedelic rock band Happy Ending since 1983. In 1974, Hank passed on the opportunity to go to an Elton John concert Thanksgiving evening, thereby missing John Lennon’s last-ever live performance.

As to The Beatles, you know who they are.

Click here for the complete list of upcoming events.

Music: California art rock musician Eamon Fogarty, Drifting North play Wed., Nov. 20

Eamon Fogarty.

California-based musician and songwriter Eamon Fogarty plays Best Video Performance Space Wednesday, Nov. 20. Drifting North, an off-shot of No Line North, will open.

The show starts at 8 PM and the cover is a sliding scale of $5-10 (pay what you can in that range).

Eamon Fogarty is a singer, composer, and multi-instrumentalist currently based in Santa Barbara CA.

The music blog Aquarium Drunkard featured Fogarty’s cover of Chris Bell’s “I Am the Cosmos” this past August. About Fogarty’s most recent record, “Blue Values,” they wrote:

It’s a remarkable piece of art-pop, exhibiting the low slung ease of Tim Buckley’s jazz-rock, the shambolic grace of Beck, the progressive grandeur of Scott Walker, and the mystic yearning of Talk Talk. Produced and mixed by Chris Schlarb of Psychic Temple, the album finds Fogarty joined by a cast of players contributing woodwinds, percussion, and vibraphone. It’s an album reflective of an ever-changing landscape, a set of songs emboldened by ambiguity.

Drifting North debuts as an evolutionary off-shoot of No Line North. The group features Jon Schlesinger, Michael Kiefer, Brian Slattery, and Richard Brown. Drifting North sets their compass for the woozy boundary between folky Americana and the frontiers of psychedelic inner space.

Click here for the complete list of upcoming events.

Spring Glen School students present poetry slam at Best Video Wed., and Thurs., Nov. 20 & 21, 4:30-5:30 PM

Sixth grade students from Spring Glen Elementary will present a Poetry SLAM Wednesday and Thursday, Nov.  20 and 21, from 4:30-5:30 PM at Best Video Film & Cultural Center.

Organized by teacher Mary Nelson, students have written powerful poetry answering the question “What would you like to change in the world?” A dozen or so different poets will perform each afternoon.

*Note that content may not be appropriate for young children

Click here for the complete list of upcoming events.

Music: GuitarTownCT evening bluegrass jam Mon., Nov. 18, at 5:30 PM

The monthly first Sunday GuitarTownCT bluegrass jams became so successful that Chris Wuerth added a new jam to the schedule. For those who need to twang community-wise more than once a month—or can’t make the Sunday afternoon events—we now have a bluegrass jam (usually) on the Third Monday of every month from 5:30-9 PM. Admission to this jam is a suggested donation of $5. November’s jam is on Monday, Nov. 18.

Players of all abilities are welcome as well as those who just enjoy listening. Meet your fellow fans of traditional acoustic music and strum, pick and sing up a storm.

Click here for the complete list of upcoming events.

Mark Schenker continues “How to Read a Film” series on screwball comedies with “The Awful Truth” on Sun., Nov. 17, at 2 PM

In this ninth installment of his series “How to Read A Film,” Mark Schenker, Dean of Academic Affairs of Yale College, turns this time to screwball comedies. Like the gangster movie, the Western and the Hollywood musical, the genre of screwball comedy films originated in the United States. The new satirical spin (hence “screwball”) on romantic comedy stressed witty dialogue and zaniness over sentimental love, and placed big name stars in odd situations. As with gangster movies, horror films and lavish musicals, the genre found a ready audience with Depression-era filmgoers who were eager for escapist fare.

The second lecture with film in this series will be on Sun., Nov. 17. The series skips Nov. 24 and winds up on Dec. 1 and Dec. 8. Admission to each lecture is $7. The series continues on Nov. 17 with the 1937 movie “The Awful Truth.” (The series began with the 1934 “It Happened One Night” on Nov. 10.)

Schenker will consider three such films from the “classic” period of the genre, and then turn to a masterpiece of the form from the late 1950’s, when its heyday had passed. The remaining schedule:

Nov 17, 2 PM: The Awful Truth (1937)

Dec 1, 2 PM: Ball of Fire (1941)

Dec 8, 2 PM: Some Like It Hot (1959)

From Bosley Crowther’s 1937 New York Times review of “The Awful Truth”:

To be frank, “The Awful Truth” is awfully unimportant, but it is also one of the more laughable screen comedies of 1937, a fairly good vintage year. Its comedy is almost purely physical- like that of the old Avery Hopwood stage farces- with only here and there a lone gag to interrupt the pure poetry of motion, yet its unapologetic return to the fundamentals of comedy seems, we repeat, original and daring.

Its obvious success with a modern audience is also rather disquieting. Just when it began to appear that an excellent case had finally been made out for spoken wit and adultness of viewpoint on the screen, the mercurial Mr. McCarey, who only a few months ago saddened us to the point of tears with his “Make Way for Tomorrow,” shocks us with a comedy in which speech is subsidiary, and maturity exists only to be deflated into abject juvenility.

Click here for the complete list of upcoming events.

Music: Illinois fiddler Georgia Rae returns, Angry O’Haras play Fri., Nov. 15, at 7:30 PM

Illinois-based fiddle artist and Connecticut’s own bluegrass combo The Angry O’Haras play Best Video Performance Space on Friday, Nov. 15. The show starts at 7:30 PM and the cover is $10.

Fiddle champ Georgia Rae has discovered the magic of the loop pedal and opened a treasure trove of original material and a one-man show. Quirky and catchy, these songs will invade your life if you let them. Watch her build and give flight to song right before your eyes. Inspired by contemporary artists from the Avett Brothers to Mungo Jerry, and a jazzy feel to her bow, with her loop or her band, Georgia Rae’s music and love for life will follow you out the door and into the next day.

Angry O’Haras use bluegrass as their compass to navigate many musical regions while employing fiddle, guitar, banjo and bass as the instrumental foundation for three- and four-part harmonies. The majority of their songs are reinventions of traditional folk, favorites you may have grown up with, plus lots of new music with an added twist. And it seems their music often makes people want to move their body parts around.

Click here for the complete list of upcoming events.

Music: Mario Pavone 3Bass Quintet, GoBruCcio play Thurs., Nov. 14, at 7:30 PM

Mario Pavone.

Jazz bassist Mario Pavone celebrates his 79th birthday with a Thursday, Nov. 14, show at Best Video Performance Space featuring his Mario Pavone 3Bass Quintet. Also on the bill will be GoBruCcio (Bob Gorry, Peter Brunelli, and Pete Riccio) playing a short set. The show starts at 7:30 PM and the cover is $10.

Joining Pavone in the quintet are bassists Carl Testa and Zwelakhe Duma Bell de Pere along with trombonist Peter McEachern and drummer Michael Sarin.

Bassist/Composer Mario Pavone has been part of some of the most pivotal milestones in jazz over the past six decades. After being inspired by hearing John Coltrane at the Village Vanguard in 1961, Pavone began playing the bass, settling in New Yok City and making connections with pianist Paul Bley and trumpeter Bill Dixon, participating in what would eventually be called “the first loft era.” Pavone went on to tour and record with Bley and Dixon.

In New Haven, CT in the mid-70’s Pavone became involved with Wadada Leo Smith and Anthony Braxton as part of The Creative Musicians Improvisors Form (CMIF), a musician run collective based on some of the precepts of Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), organizing and playing in large orchestra concerts featuring Muhal Richard Abrams, George Lewis, Marty Ehrlich, Oliver Lake, Ray Anderson, Carla Bley, and many others.

In the mid ’80’s Pavone became involved in the groundbreaking downtown Knitting Factory scene, building a deep relationship with alto saxophonist Thomas Chapin and becoming part of his highly acclaimed power trio. From 1990 to 1996 the trio recorded extensively, toured in Europe and the U.S., and performed at major international jazz festivals.

After Chapin’s untimely passing in 1998, Pavone began a long recording career as a leader, beginning with the New World and Knitting Factory labels. Then touring widely in Europe with an enduring core group of A-list improvisors – Tony Malaby, Steven Bernstein, Gerald Cleaver, Peter Madsen, and Michael Sarin, the bassist was also collaborating on projects with guitarist Michael Musillami and recording over a dozen CD’s for Musillami’s Playscape Recordings label. At present Pavone has recorded 30 critically acclaimed CD’s as a leader, many placing on Top 10 year-end lists.

For 25 years Pavone has been associated with Litchfield Performing Arts, serving as a board member, an educator at its Jazz Camp, and bringing many of his innovative projects to the Litchfield Jazz Festival stage.

In 2010 Pavone was recipient of a significant Doris Duke Foundation composer’s grant resulting in multiple performances and a recording of Pavone’s compositions arranged by virtuoso trumpeter Dave Ballou. Pavone and Ballou enjoy an ongoing musical collaboration.

Recently, Pavone has focused his composing and performing energies on the classic piano trio format, reconnecting with Paul Bley for a recording, releasing a live disc with Craig Taborn and Gerald Cleaver, recording 3 CD’s with his Dialect Trio featuring Matt Mitchell and Tyshawn Sorey, the latest to be released in July 2019 on Clean Feed Records. Among other recent activity this year Pavone has been touring and recording with legendary vocalist Patty Waters in a group featuring Barry Altschul and Burton Greene, and recording with long-time associate, trombonist, Peter McEachern on the trombonist’s new CD.

The trio GoBruCcio—Bob Gorry (guitar), Pete Brunelli (bass), Peter Riccio (drums)—is creating textures and rhythms, working in space and shadow, treading a line between minimalism and free ambient soundscape.

Click here for the complete list of upcoming events.

Second Wednesday Open Mic takes place Wed., Nov. 13, at 7 PM; hosted by Karen Ponzio

Musicians! Comedians! Poets! Magicians! Spoken word artists! The Second Wednesday Open Mic takes place Wednesday, Nov. 13, starting at 7 PM. Admission is a Suggested Donation of $3-5 to support BVFCC. Poet Karen Ponzio (aka KP The Word) — who writes for the New Haven Independent and has a show on Cygnus RADIO — is the host for this show.

The sign-up sheet will be put out at 6:45 PM in order for prospective performers who haven’t been able to get here earlier to have a chance at performing slots. No sign-ups will be taken before 6:45.

Each slot is 10 minutes or two songs (whichever is shorter) with a 5-minute break between each performer. We have a total of 10 slots from 7-9:30 PM if people use their maximum time. We will play it by ear after that with any “extra” performers getting time as available in order of signing the sheet. While 9:30 PM is the official cut-off time, we may at our discretion continue with performers up to 10 PM.

Click here for the complete list of upcoming events.