Music: The Mandingo Ambassadors, led by Guinean guitarist Mamady Kouyate, to play authentic African dance music Fri., Mar. 22

Mamady Kouyate of The Mandingo Ambassadors.

The Mandingo Ambassadors, led by Guinean guitarist Mamady Kouyate, play Best Video Performance Space Friday, Mar. 22. The show starts at 8 PM and tickets are $10. Advance tickets are available through BrownPaperTicket.com.

An African jazz band with beats to make chairs obsolete and melodies to put your mind at ease! Check out NYC’s magnificent Mandingo Ambassadors in their CT debut at this last of the old school video stores!!!

The Mandingo Ambassadors was founded in New York City by griot-guitarist Mamady Kouyaté in 2005. As a veteran of the great orchestras of the golden age of Guinean dance bands, Kouyate is a living library of musical science inherited from his ancestors and from a half century of experience as an arranger, band leader, accompanist and soloist.

Mamady Kouyaté carried this heritage with him to New York where he has collaborated with members of the West African diaspora and Western musicians to continue the great tradition and sound of Guinean Afro-jazz.

Since the summer of 2008 the group has been in residence at Barbes, performing every Wednesday night at this well-known Brooklyn venue. In addition, they have performed at many clubs, events and festivals including Lincoln Center Out of Doors, Celebrate Brooklyn, and the International Festival of Arts and Ideas.

In a review of a show at Barbès in 2008, New York Times jazz critic Ben Ratliff wrote:

The music of the Mandingo Ambassadors has been structured to make you feel good. It puts dazzling vocal and guitar patterns over a rhythm section that is like a perfect system: a locked drum groove, much of it played on high-hat cymbal and drum rims; soft bass lines that fall short or start late, or leave gaps in a run of notes; fingerpicked rhythm guitar notes like clear fizz. In the small, square backroom of Barbès on Wednesday — as it will be next Wednesday and for Wednesdays to come — the music sounded loud and light and unfailingly right…

It could have gone on forever, and that was a nice thought.

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Music: The Brian Dolzani Band, Seth Adam play Best Video Thurs., Mar. 21

The Brian Dolzani Band plays Best Video Performance Space on Thursday, Mar. 21. The music starts at 8 PM with singer-songwriter Seth Adam opening. The cover is $8.

Brian Dolzani mines his personal life and experiences to create songs that cut deep upon first listen. Through his unique vocal tone (a ‘smoother Neil Young’) and individualistic writing style, you can tell Brian is putting himself on the ledge with every song and performance. His music reflects his heartache and perseverance through early life tragedy, as well as the daily complexities of family life and deep existential issues we all face (if we know how to look and feel). Despite the often confessional and weighty issues that he writes about, Brian’s music is inspiring, healing, and a testament to the human ability to engage life at a deep, spiritual level, and live to tell the tale.

Dolzani—singing and playing guitar—will perform with his full band on Mar. 21. George Ramirez plays, guitar, John Macchia is on drums, and Bill Conroy plays bass.

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. In January 2018, he released a single (and video) called ‘Anytown,’ written in response to the events in Charlottesville VA the summer before. Currently, he is writing and recording songs for a full-length album as well as wrapping up an all-acoustic version of his 2007 release, Where You Come From, celebrating the 10 year anniversary of the original.

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Music: Jellyshirts play rock Wed., Mar. 20

Rock trio Jellyshirts return to Best Video Performance Space on Wednesday, Mar. 20. The show starts at 8 PM.

Looking for a frame of reference for Jellyshirts’ music? Try the Velvet Underground and the Byrds. But the band–led by guitarist/vocalist Bret Logan for over 20 years, ably joined by drummer Scott McDonald and bass player Nick Appleby–has a sound determinedly their own.

From the band’s press packet: “Letting the wash of live sound influence each song, without anybody thinking ‘jazz’ or ‘improvisation.’ Never doing covers of our songs. Trying to get you to levitate about one-and-a-half feet off your chair (willingly, of course).”

The short version: They’re loud and they play bars with a mystical need to reach the audience.

From a 2009 Shoreline Times article by late musician and WPLR Local Bands radio show host James Velvet: “The band has been held in awe by its fans over the years for its sometimes soaring, sometimes droning sound, always played with intensity and skill. A good example is the current lead tune on their MySpace page, a recent live recording of a song they first performed 15 years ago, ‘Disinclined.’ Ten minutes of dynamic live jamming. ‘Pick and soar’ is how their longtime champion Gary Vollono of IndepenDisc.com describes the sound. To which I would add, ‘…and feedback sometimes.’”

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Comedy: Reel Life—A Stand-Up Comedy show hosted by Kendra Dawsey on Tues., Mar. 19, 8 PM

Kendra Dawsey.

Best Video Film & Cultural Center presents “Reel Life,” a monthly stand-up comedy show that debuted in October, on Tuesday, Mar. 19, 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 a sliding scale of $5-10—pay what you can within that range.

Also on the bill for Feb. 19 are comics BJ Quagan, Caitlin Reese, Rebecca Rush, Ben Bosunga, and John Saponaro.

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.

• BJ Quagan JUST wants you to have a good time. He’s been performing live comedy for 6 years. He is extremely critical of himself and is wondering if this is a good enough biography as you read if. He is one of the associate artistic directors at the Sea Tea Comedy Theater in Hartford and believes firmly that the world is more enjoyable when we all laugh together while it burns.

• Caitlin Reese is a Connecticut based stand up comedian, improviser, and sketch writer. She has been featured on Comics Watching Comics Season 8 on Amazon Prime, Last Comix Standing at Mohegan Sun, and PAID or PAIN on Sirius XM. She has opened for Kevin McDonald from Kids in the Hall and selected to perform in the Women in Comedy Festival. She was also a finalist in the 2018 National Ladies of Laughter Competition at Gotham Comedy Club. Her sense of humor is offbeat, quirky, and always feminist.

• Rebecca Rush is a comic and writer. She has been featured on Funny or Die and VICE, has appeared on YKWD & RAP, and has done numerous festivals including Portland Maine Comedy Festival, Cinder Block Comedy Festival, Bechtel Test Fest, Skankfest, and Mutiny Radio Fest. She has worked with Fortune Feimster, Bobby Kelly, Deon Cole, Ben Bailey, Laurie Kilmartin, Chris DiStefano, and recently featured for Joe List. She’s performed at Greenwich Village Comedy Club, Broadway Comedy Club, LA Comedy Club, Palm Beach Improv, Chicago Laugh Factory, The Ice House, The Comedy Store, The Stand, Funnybone Comedy Clubs in multiple states, and many more. She produces the show Raised by Wolves at Henrietta Hudsons the 2nd Thursday of the month in Manhattan’s West Village, and will soon be producing Escape from LA bimonthly in Santa Cruz.

• John Saponaro is a comic, actor, writer, and voiceover artist based in New York City. He spends his nights performing at some of the most well known comedy clubs in the country. He is a proud member of SAG-AFTRA and the voice of the Monster Jam Triple Threat Series. John is an active contributor to the parody news site absrd Comedy.

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Music: Monthly GuitarTownCT evening bluegrass jam takes place Mon., Mar. 18, from 6-9 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 6-9 PM. Admission to this jam is a suggested donation of $5. March’s jam is Monday, Mar. 18, from 6-9 PM.

Players of all abilities are welcome as well as those who just enjoy listening.

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Music: Monthly Irish/Celtic music jam coincidentally falls on St. Patrick’s Day, Sun., Mar. 17, from 1-3 PM

Best Video Performance hosts a monthly acoustic Irish music jam. The March jam takes place on St. Patrick’s Day, Sunday, Mar. 17, from 1-3 PM. The jam, organized by musicians Jim & Willow Sirch, takes place on the third Sunday of each month (unless it needs to be rescheduled due to other Best Video Film & Cultural Center programming).

As with our bluegrass jams, feel free to come and join in or just sit and listen.

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Music: Frank Viele offers self-penned Americana & blue-eyed soul Sat., Mar. 16

Singer-songwriter Frank Viele plays an intimate solo show at Best Video Film & Cultural Center in Hamden on Saturday, Mar. 16, starting at 8 PM. Advance tickets are $7 through BrownPaperTickets.com. Tickets at the door the day of the show are $10.

A bourbon drinking, cartoon watching, blue-collar entrepreneur; his musical roots started on his grandmother’s piano as a young child, developed as a teen tailgating with an acoustic guitar in the parking lots of Dave Matthews Band concerts, and blossomed on the road as a young adult performing as the quintessential “weekend warrior” in the East Coast Jam and Singer/Songwriter scenes.

With the 2015 release of his first full-length album, Fall Your Way, Viele found himself singing his heart out on stages and radio stations across the country supporting a range of acts as eclectic as his song catalog. His most recent record is What’s His Name?

At home on stage with nothing but a stool, glass of bourbon, and an acoustic guitar, or side by side with his power house band, Viele has found himself on stage with modern singer/songwriters such as Pat McGee, Ryan Montbleau, Gavin Degraw, and Tony Lucca, Jam and Rock oriented bands including Blues Traveler, Eric Lindell, Turkuaz, The London Souls, and Zach Myers of Shinedown, as well classic rock legends including The Marshall Tucker Band, Foreigner, Ambrosia, Bret Michaels, and Bob Marley’s Wailers.

This stylistically eclectic use of instrumentation combined with his perspective as a story teller rooted in traditional folk and blues music finds him not only supporting amazing acts in the live arena, but also performing alongside some of the most talented musicians playing today In fact, Fall Your Way finds artists the likes of blues guitar great Joe Bonamassa, jam guitar ace Tim Palmieri of Kung Fu, and saxophonist Bill Holloman of Chic, Elton John, and The E Street Band adding their talents to Viele’ s music.

Consistently referring to his artistic endeavors as a true “journey,” Viele’s experience and dedication to the art of the live show and touring finds him on the road regularly. Performing over 150 shows a year earned him the title of The New England Music Award’s 2014 “Live Act Of The Year.”

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Music: The 509ers crank out garage rock Thurs., Mar. 14

The 509ers play Best Video Performance Space on Thursday, Mar. 14. The show starts at 8 PM and the cover is a sliding scale of $5-10 _pay what you can in that range).

The 509ers are a garage rock outfit from New Haven, CT. They have been kicking around the local music scene in various configurations for nearly thirty years and formed as The 509ers in 2009. Former angry young men, now grizzled and older, The 509ers still have something to say about the state of the world and it is not complimentary… but it is honest, loud, and raw.

The 509ers played as Thing’s Fingers from 1987-91 in New Haven, CT . Post ’91, they continued in various configurations including FU69, the Cryptones, and the Danglers. The original members of Thing’s Fingers reformed with one addition in ’08 as the 509ers. In 2010 Fatty Benny, of The Crabs fame, took on occasional drumming duties until Chuck Love stepped in and took on full time duty on the skins.

Among the 509ers influences: The Ramones, Social Distortion, The Replacements, The Cramps, The Damned, The Gun Club, X, The Reducers, The Droogs, The Butthole Surfers, The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Pixies, early 80s Boston hardcore, and, of course, Rick Springfield.

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Second Wednesday Open Mic comes back around Wed., Mar. 13, at 7 PM

Musicians! Comedians! Poets! Magicians! Spoken word artists! The Second Wednesday Open Mic takes place Wednesday, Mar. 13, starting at 7 PM. Admission is a Suggested Donation of $3-5 to support BVFCC.

Poet Karen Ponzio — who writes for the New Haven Independent and has a show on Cygnus RADIO — is the host for this show.

We are doing sign-up differently 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.

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Film screening: “Garden in Film” series concludes with “This Beautiful Fantastic” (2016) Sun., Mar. 10, at 3 PM

The “Garden in Film” series—conceived by Best Video Film & Cultural Center member and former manager of Marsh Botanical Gardens at Yale Eric Larson—concludes on Sunday, Mar. 10, with a screening of the 2016 movie “This Beautiful Fantastic.” Previous movies in the series were “A Little Chaos” and “Saving Grace” (2000). The screening starts at 3 PM and admission is $7.

In “This Beautiful Fantastic,” a young librarian (played by Jessica Brown Findlay), who is trying to write a children’s book, is forced to rehabilitate the garden in back of her flat by the absentee landlord, thus confronting her aversion to plants. among the relevant themes are gardening as source and agent for transformation, the garden as refuge, and garden as connection between very different people.

In his New York Times review of the movie, Neil Genzlinger wrote:

With spring imminent, backyard putterers are turning their thoughts to the garden, which makes “This Beautiful Fantastic,” a charming tale about one, all that much sweeter.

Gardens, of course, must be cultivated, and thus they are rich allegorical territory for storytellers of all sorts. Simon Aboud, the writer and director here, works some obvious parallels as he tells the story of a timid young woman, her cranky old neighbor and the garden that separates them, but enjoyable performances keep the tale from becoming too heavy-handed.

Click here for the complete list of upcoming events.