Music: The Bluegrass Characters play quarterly show Tues., July 30, at 7:30 PM

The Bluegrass Characters will play Best Video Performance Space on Tuesday, July. 30. The show starts at 7:30 PM and the cover is a sliding scale of $5-10 (pay what you can in that range).

Formerly led by the great Stacy Phillips—who tragically passed away last year—The Bluegrass Characters are a local bluegrass supergroup who play the great straight-ahead, hard-driving bluegrass from the 50s and 60s.

The group features a rotating cast of acoustic roots music virtuosos. This month’s line-up features Phil Zimmerman (mandolin), Lukas Schwartz (fiddle), Pete Kelly (bass), Joe “Pepe” Lemeris (banjo) and Andy Bromage (guitar). Three chords and the truth, sung from the heart and through the nose.

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Music: GuitarTownCT presents The Little Roy & Lizzy Show Sat., July 27, at 7:30 PM

GuitarTownCT Concert Productions presents The Little Roy & Lizzy show live at Best Video Performance Space on Saturday, July 27. The show starts at 7:30 PM and tickets are $25 in advance through GuitarTownCT.com.

From Georgia, Little Roy & Lizzy are one of the most entertaining acts in bluegrass today. Front man Little Roy Lewis, 77, is a banjo master, comedian and story teller. Lizzy Long, virtuoso on fiddle, banjo and guitar, has a fantastic voice, and tries to keep Little Roy’s antics in check. Festival favorites, they play traditional bluegrass, country and gospel, with comedy thrown in everywhere.

While starting out on the piano, Elizabeth Long—or Lizzy as her friends and fans know her—soon took up the fiddle, guitar, autoharp, bass, banjo, and mandolin, and has become an accomplished musician, alternating between these instruments as part of her entertainment repertoire. Continuing her quest for success, Lizzy has paired up with Little Roy Lewis from the legendary Lewis Family. Lizzy finds that singing helps to express her thoughts and emotions—whether happy, sad, disappointed or angry. Her extraordinary voice shimmers with strains of America’s musical roots. Lizzy has been nominated for three Dove Awards and has won several fiddle and talent contests. Little Roy summed it up the best, “pull a plank off the wall and she’ll play it!”

Little Roy is awfully hard to overlook. He makes sure that no one in the audience gets bored at any time. Little Roy has won awards as Entertainer as well as for his banjo playing. Little Roy’s favorite banjo players are Don Reno and Earl Scruggs. USA Today called Little Roy “a banjo master, truly a picker’s picker.” Little Roy can also be found playing the guitar and autoharp. In fact, the song ‘Good Time Get-Together’ was written to highlight his instrumental skills. Little Roy is multi-talented – he sings, plays many instruments, tells stories, and acts.

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Music: Sambeleza serves up sensuous Brazilian music Fri., July 26

Sambeleza plays Best Video Performance Space on Friday, July 26. The show starts at 8 PM and the cover is $10. The group will feature Jeff Fuller (bass), Joe Carter (guitar), and Isabella Mendes (vocals, piano).

Sambeleza performs a wide variety of Brazilian songs, both old and new, with a jazz twist. Featured composers include Tom Jobim and Ary Barroso, as well as younger composers like Djavan, Debora Gurgel and Arlindo Cruz. A few originals by group members are added to the mix.

Their first CD, “Sambeleza Live,” was released in the spring of 2015. It was recorded live at Summer Solstice Samba in June, 2014 at Voices Cafe of the Unitarian Church in Westport in association with WPKN-FM. Along with Sambeleza members Isabella Mendes, Jeff Fuller and Joe Carter on that date were special guests Ali Ryerson (flute), Adriano Santos (drums) and Ze Mauricio (percussion).

Brasil (spelled with an “s” in Portuguese) is well known for its rich heritage—a blend of indigenous, African and European cultures—from which the music has risen with fascinating rhythms, soaring melodies and colorful harmonies. The musicians of Sambeleza are outstanding U. S. and Brazilian interpreters of the great songs of the bossa nova and samba traditions, as well as outstanding jazz artists in their own right. Sambeleza derives its name from two words: samba, the national dance of Brasil, and beleza, Portuguese for “beauty.”

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Music: Thabisa performs Afro-soul Thurs., July 25, at Best Video

Thabisa plays Best Video Performance Space on Thursday, July 25. The show starts at 8 PM. The cover is a sliding scale from $10-15 but $5 will also allow you to enjoy the show.

A night of reflection and openness to new beginnings as Thabisa carves and weaves her way through these grounds of unfamiliar territory. This singer songwriter from South Africa and now New Haven’s songbird will share her talents and journey through music and storytelling. Accompanied by the Hamden’s talented musicians Myke Ross (guitar) and Sam Oliver (percussion/drums) she will bring in songs unsung and a few of your favourites from both her “Eyodidi” and “The Journey” albums.

Thabisa’s story begins in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Born and raised by her grandparents in KwaZakhele township, she could always be found singing and dancing outside her home. Neighbors gave her the name “Little Brenda” for the legendary South African pop star Brenda Fassie.

In 2012 she entered the national singing competition, Idols South Africa, and finished in the Top 18. The following year, she signed on with the independent record label Tammy Music and produced two albums, Eyodidi (2015) and The Journey (2013).

Thabisa received a nomination for Best Video at the South African Traditional Music Awards (SATMA) for the song “Vula” off her first album, The Journey. Musically, she finds inspiration from the likes of Miriam Makeba and Billy Holiday, and has shared a stage with living legends Caiphus Simenya, Bebe and Cece Winans, Thandiswa Mazwai and Freshly Ground.

Thabisa currently lives with her family in the United States. “What makes my music worthwhile, is the opportunities it opens for me to work with children and inspire them to dream big” she explained. THABISA volunteers with children using music, cultural exchange, and story-telling.

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Music: Dr. Caterwaul tangos to tunes of Astor Piazzolla Wed., July 24

Eclectic world music/folk band Dr. Caterwaul’s Cadre of Clairvoyant Claptraps play the music of tango master Astor Piazzolla at Best Video Performance Space on Wednesday, July 24. The show starts at 8 PM and the cover is a sliding scale of $5-10 (pay what you can in that range).

With its seamless blend of tango, jazz, and classical music, composer Astor Piazzolla’s nuevo tango took over the world like tango itself had two generations before. Piazzolla’s compositional voice reverberates today through film scores, music for television, and pretty much any music that’s evocatively badass.

Dr. Caterwaul members have been talking about doing an evening of Astor Piazzolla’s music pretty much since they’ve been together as a band. When you hear Piazzolla’s music, you’ll know why.

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Comedy: Reel Life Stand-Up Comedy show, hosted by Kendra Dawsey, returns Sat., July 20, 8 PM

Best Video Film & Cultural Center presents “Reel Life,” a monthly stand-up comedy show, on Saturday, July 20, at 8 PM. Reel Life is hosted by Kendra Dawsey, a comic who also hosts a weekly open mic at Lyric Hall in Westville and has also performed at Best Video’s Second Wednesday Open Mic among other venues throughout New England. Cover is $10.

Also on the bill for July 20 are comics Mal Cruz, Dan Brown, Ashlynn Cradic, Matt Woodland, and Dan Rice. Note: Comic routines may feature explicit material and language.

Kendra Dawsey is an up and coming stand-up comic who has performed in clubs and showcases in NYC and all over New England, including Stonewall Inn, Comix @ Mohegan Sun, and ImprovBoston. She was also a featured comic on the Sirius XM radio program Paid or Pain. Kendra garners humor from her identity and experiences by blending anecdote with higher concepts. Never too proud to laugh at herself, Kendra endears audiences by inviting them to laugh with her.

Dan Rice is an editor and contributor at the punk rock satire site thehardtimes.net. He hasn’t seen Crazy Rich Asians yet, so please don’t spoil it for him. Rumored to be Stevie Nick’s long lost sister, Ashlynn Cradic is a Massachusetts transplant from Mississippi. Her humor is a bit of the goofy with a flare of deadpan all mixed together highlighting the life of a young trans-woman in modern day America.

Dan Brown is an animator, musician, standup comedian, and bigfoot enthusiast. He is co-creator of KR47 –KR47Films.com. Mallory Cruz is an autistic comedian based in NYC. She is currently recovering from a fresh concussion. It’s her 5th one. Matt Woodland grew up in Worthington Ma, a bustling little town in the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains. Matt has been performing stand up comedy over the past few years, operating predominantly out of the Western Ma area. He has also put on several shows in the Northampton area, including long standing monthly shows at Luthier’s Co-op & Iconica Social Club. Matt combines improvisation, crowd work and theatrics to create some kind of an experience you won’t want to miss!

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Music: Last Fair Deal offers American roots music Fri., July 19

Last Fair Deal play Best Video Performance Space on Friday, July 19. The show starts at 8 PM and the cover is a sliding scale of $5-10 (pay what you can in that range).

Last Fair Deal continues to redraw the map of American roots music with fluid energy and creativity. Performing as a trio, guitarist Paul Howard, fiddler Tom Hagymasi and banjo/mandolinist Phil Zimmerman fan the flame that has kept this band relevant since the 70’s. They’re enjoyment of performing together is palpable and captivating!

Their live performances, with stellar vocals and unique acoustic synergy draw from an eclectic repertoire of old-time string-band, bluegrass, swing, and popular music. The band’s shows feature originals from their current and previous three albums and they also put their own spin on tunes by John Hartford, Gillian Welch, Dan Hicks, Lennon/McCartney, John Hiatt, The Band and Bob Dylan.

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Music: Power pop from Lucy’s Neighbor Thurs., July 18

Lucy’s Neighbor plays Best Video Performance Space Thursday, July 18. The show starts at 8 PM and the cover is $5.

Lucy’s Neighbor—named after the Mrs. Matilda Trumbull character in the “I Love Lucy” Sitcom—is an original indie rock/power pop band from New Haven. The members are Derek Di Fronzo (vocals); Dave Esposito (guitar); Tom Quagliano (drums) and Ed Flynn (bass). They will be playing songs from their two self-released CDs, the self-titled “Lucy’s Neighbor” (2011) and “Over Easy” (2018).

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Music: The Afro-Semitic Experience presents “Letters From the Affair” Wed., July 17

The Afro-Semitic Experience performs the David Chevan composition “Letters from the Affair” at Best Video Performance space on Wednesday, July 17, at 8 PM. Advance tickets are $10; tickets at the door will be $15.

“Letters from the Affair” is a multi-media musical—there’s a little jazz, a little opera, some cantorial singing, and even a little art history. The work is based upon a series of letters written by the Impressionist painters Camille Pissarro and Edgar Degas. These letters are framed to tell a little-known story from the end of the 19th century about the relationship between these two founding members of the French Impressionist Art movement. The story centers on their friendship as artists and how it deteriorated and then completely ended because of their differing views regarding the Dreyfus affair.

“Letters from the Affair”: a new musical by David Chevan, performed by the Afro-Semitic Experience
with:

Cantor Martin Levson: Edgar Degas
Cantor Malachi Kanfer: Camille Pissarro
Alvin Carter: Narrator, drums
Jocelyn Pleasant: Zoe, percussion
Adam Matlock: accordion
Will Bartlett: saxophone and clarinets
David Chevan: bass

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Music: Renard Boissiere & Friends explore New Orleans music & more Tues., July 16

Renard Boissiere plays Best Video Performance Space on Tuesday, July 16. The show starts at 8 PM and the cover is a sliding scale of $5-10 (pay what you can in that range).

New Orleans native Renard Boissiere breaks all boundaries whether he hits the stage with his eclectic, electric band, Nardy Boy, or as an acoustic act trotting out the live acoustic vibe. Always doing it right with a mix of music both old, new and original too, the songs reflect his love for good music regardless the singer, songwriter or sensibility. Whether it’s a jazzed-up take on a country favorite, or a bossa nova rendition of a reggae classic, there’s more than a few surprises up his sleeve.

Renard has performed live with the Neville Brothers, Delfeayo Marsalis, recorded with Rock-n-Roll Hall of Famers Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz of the Talking Heads, recorded and performed with Mystic Bowie and his Talking Dreads project, and opened for acts as varied as Odetta, the TomTom Club, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Porter, Batiste & Stolz (PBS), and the Psychedelic Furs.

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