Music: The Bluegrass Characters play Tues., Jan. 28, at 7:30 PM

The Bluegrass Characters will play Best Video Performance Space on Tuesday, Jan. 28. 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 super-group 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), Pete Kelly (bass), Peter Kaufman (banjo), Andy Bromage (guitar), and Tom Hagymasi (fiddle). Three chords and the truth, sung from the heart and through the nose.

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Music: Fernando Pinto presents The Dirty Grass Players Sun., Jan. 26, at 6:30 PM

Fernando Pinto presents The Dirty Grass Players at Best Video Performance Space on Sunday, Jan. 26. The show starts at 6:30 PM. The cover is $15 in advance and $20 the day of the show. Advance tickets are available at BrownPaperTickets.com.

Hailing from Baltimore, Md The Dirty Grass Players have established themselves with one toe-tappin foot in traditional bluegrass and blazing musicianship that pushes boundaries. Comprised of Mikey Sallemi on Bass, Alex Berman on Banjo, Ben Kolakowski with the guitar, and Ryan Rogers on mandolin, this four piece is successfully bringing their growing fan base a down, dirty and heated performance. Their ability to seamlessly transition from down home bluegrass to spirited improvisation makes each performance unique. Throw in some Allman Brothers, Pink Floyd or a dash of southern rock and youll quickly understand what they mean by Dirty Grass. Their self-titled debut CD The Dirty Grass Players captures this energy and as 2017 winner of Charm City Bluegrass & Folk Festival Band Competition clearly indicates, this is just the beginning. Successfully touring the Mid-Atlantic and festival appearances, this year finds the group expanding along the East Coast and building on this momentum. For anyone that enjoys a musical throw down by skilled musicians its time to get your grass dirty.

The last 2 years have consisted of a busy touring schedule that has kept The Dirty Grass Players from releasing new music, but in 2019 they are excited to get new tunes out into the world. Their first single Grand Voyager – released in April of 2019 – is a fast-pickin tune that pays homage to their humble beginnings. Reminding their fan base why they love them, this tune will also help any non-bluegrass-lover transition into becoming an appreciative consumer of bluegrass music, or should we say Dirty Grass. Stay tuned for the full album dropping in the fall.

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Music: The Sawtelles, Robert Zott enliven Sat., Jan. 25, at 7:30 PM

The Sawtelles will celebrate 20 years together with a return to the Best Video Film and Cultural Center stage on Sat., Jan. 25, at 7:30 PM. The cover is a sliding scale of $5-10 (pay what you can in that range).

The Sawtelles were the first act ever to play live music at Best Video back in 2011. For two decades, they have performed at art galleries, museums, performance spaces, festivals, night clubs, farmer’s markets and an even wider variety of diverse venues, as well as on radio and television.

Peter Riccio writes the songs, sings, plays guitar, and records the band. Julie Riccio plays drums, adds vocals, influences song arrangements, and develops artwork for CD releases.

Former BVFCC Executive Director Richard Brown began his association with the duo in 2014. He plays guitar and saxophone.

The trio’s sound is an incorporation of a wide range of musical influences particularly from the rock, jazz, and songwriter traditions. The additional guitar and saxophone expand the two voice, guitar and drum sonic palette, offering a distinct take on the unique song structures. Ballads, love songs, a dirge, a punk rock song, or a jazz or blues influenced piece, all benefit from lush, quirky arrangements with global influence. There is counterpoint, polyphony, and improvisation. This is an original band — with a sense of humor. Be there to be part of a fun night. Get experienced!

Robert Zott opens the show, an amazing songwriter, musician and visual artist. Zott is a Hartford, CT-based singer/songwriter who creates a unique form of conceptual blues. His music incorporates objects such as a nautical speaking tube, a Morse code generator, and a music box made from a black box flight recorder. Each object makes reference to communication at a distance and functions as a metaphor for isolation.

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Music: Jazz from Ernie Mazza & Friends Fri., Jan. 24, at 8 PM

Ernie Mazza & Friends play Best Video Performance Space on Friday, Jan. 24. The show starts at 8 PM and the cover is $7.

Veteran pianist Ernie Mazza hosts an evening of cookin’ jazz at the performance space. He’ll be joined by wife, Mary, on vocals (They met on a gig, ya know!); son, Dave, on guitar; Mark Kaplan on sax, and the tasty rhythm section of Art Principe and John Rispoli on bass and drums, respectively. They’ll be playing some of their favorites from the jazz repertoire including standards, be-bop, Latin, and a couple of surprises along the way.

A New Haven native, and a regular on the local music scene for decades, Ernie has assembled a fine ensemble of versatile and seasoned pros to join him for what is sure to be a fun evening of jazz music with friends and family.

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Music: Hip hop show Thurs., Jan. 23, at 8 PM, with Sketch tha cataclysm, Murf, & Spark Kent

Hip hop acts Sketch Tha Cataclysm, Murf, and Spark Kent play Best Video Performance Space on Thursday, Jan. 23. The show starts at 8 PM and the cover is a sliding scale of $5-10 (pay what you can in that range.

Sketch tha cataclysm is an emcee/producer/poet out of New Haven, CT. For the past twelve years or so, Armando Acevedo has been performing as an MC/Producer under the name of Sketch tha cataclysm. In that time, he has released 14 projects and performed as a part of a 4 piece and up to an 11 piece hip-hop band as well as a pair of experimental art rock groups. Performing has taken him across the United States a number of times and has earned him acclaim locally and elsewhere. He also contributes as a writer to ok-tho.com & local band review. Sketch tha cataclysm will be backed up by Mo Niklz and Juliann Castelbuono.

Spark Kent is an independent Hip Hop artist based out of New Haven County, Connecticut. Best known for his witty and comical lyricism, this up and comer paints vivid mental scenes of life experiences over funky and gritty canvases reminiscent of 90’s Hip Hop.

Over the course of the last ten years, he has shared the stage opening up for the likes of Mac Miller, KRS-1, Joey Bada$$ / Pro Era, PROF, Machine Gun Kelly, Action Bronson, Wax / The Palmer Squares, R.A. The Rugged Man & AFRO x2, Shaggy (It Wasn’t Me), Bun B, Kirko Bangz, Felly, Chris Webby x3, Curren$y / French Montana, Riff Raff, Futuristic, Oncue, Kosha Dillz, Cam Meekins, Huey Mack, Chanel West Coast and more. Be on the lookout for his debut album Northern Hospitality dropping on all major platforms soon.

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Music: Evening GuitarTownCT bluegrass jam Mon., Jan. 20, 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. January’s jam is on Monday, Jan. 20.

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.

Music: Irish/Celtic music jam Sun., Jan. 19, 2-4 PM

Best Video Performance Space hosts a monthly acoustic Irish music jam. The January jam takes place on Sunday, Jan. 19, from 2-4 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.

Click here for the complete list of upcoming events.

UPDATE 1/18: CANCELLED DUE TO WEATHER Comedy: Reel Life—A Stand-Up Comedy Show, hosted by Stosh Mikita, Sat., Jan. 18, at 8 PM

UPDATE 1/18/20: Due to the bleak weather forecast, tonight’s Reel Life has been cancelled. Reel Life will return on Saturday, Feb. 22.

Best Video Film & Cultural Center presents Reel Life—A Stand-Up Comedy Show on Saturday, Jan. 18. Reel Life is hosted by comic Stosh Mikita. It starts at 8 PM and the cover is $10.

Stosh Mikita is a New Haven, CT based comedian whose comedy combines clever observations, self-deprecating humor, and dark personal stories from an unusual upbringing. Starting in 2013, Stosh has quickly become a regularly featured comedian all over New England.

Mel V: 2016 Clash of the Comics winner Mel V’s hilariously quirky and irreverent style is a favorite of audiences all over the Northeast. She has performed at Comix Comedy Club at Mohegan Sun, The Funny Bone, Treehouse Comedy Club, The Elbow Room and many more, and was a finalist in the 2019 Funniest Person in Massachusetts Competition.

Mo Mussa: Mo Mussa is an up and coming comedian from Connecticut who has performed at the Hartford Funny Bone and Comix @ Mohegan Sun. He does comedy all over the East Coast. His delivery depends on his mood but either way he’ll leave you doubled over with laughter. While you’re laughing you might ponder, “what’s his problem?” He doesn’t know, and don’t ask him after the show.

Dan Kalwhite: Over the last 9 years Danny Kalwhite has shared the stage with some of the funniest people in comedy (Kyle Kinane, T.J. Miller, Big Jay Oakerson, Sebastian Maniscalco, Rachel Feinstein & Mark Normand to name a few). He’d love a chance to make you laugh and hopes that you won’t be disappointed by his dirty sneakers. Twitter @dannyboy3030

Mega Harrison: Like many successful comedians, Mega Harrison started doing stand-up comedy out of revenge! “Mega” is short for “Megatron,” which would be a pretty megalomaniacal name to use. Mega tells jokes about dating, her cat, and her mother. You can catch Mega slinging jokes and weaving tales all over Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York.

Music: Indie rock by Pond View, Tate & Silas, Anchor Fri., Jan. 17, at 7 PM

The indie rock bands Pond View, Tate & Silas, and Anchor play Best Video Performance Space Fri., Nov. 17. The show starts at 7 PM and the cover is a sliding scale of $5-10 (pay what you can in that range).

Pond View is an indie-rock group from Branford, CT that was formed in March 2019. During their high school days, the trio would head to their basement and record songs on their phones. The band has released two EPs. Their debut EP “Basement Dwellers” and their latest project “All but Anything, but Anything is Fine.” With a full length album currently in the works.

Tate & Silas are a two piece band from New Haven, CT. Tate Brooks plays guitar, Silas Lourenco-Lang plays bass and kick drum. Writing songs in a shed and playing rambunctious shows around town, these rockers are more than meets the eye.

Anchor is an Alternative Rock band based out of Branford Connecticut. They write and perform all original songs. The band members include Taite Hodson (Bass & Vocals), Owen Calderwood (Percussion), Mateo Noble (Guitar), Sawyer Bouley (Guitar & Vocals), and Yann Calderwood (Keyboard & Alto Saxophone).

Click here for the complete list of upcoming events.

New releases 1/7/20

Top Hits
Joker (comic book drama, Joaquin Phoenix. Rotten Tomatoes: 69%. Metacritic: 59. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “To be worth arguing about, a movie must first of all be interesting: it must have, if not a coherent point of view, at least a worked-out, thought-provoking set of themes, some kind of imaginative contact with the world as we know it. ‘Joker,’ an empty, foggy exercise in second-hand style and second-rate philosophizing, has none of that.” Read more…)

Mine 9 (thriller, Terry Serpico. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%. Metacritic: 66. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “There’s some effective filmmaking in the central section of this picture written and directed by Eddie Mensore. These scenes depict the collapse of a section of a West Virginia coal mine, trapping nine men inside. Flooding and gas buildup combine with very cramped quarters as the men await rescue, unsure if anyone on the ground miles above them even knows they’re alive. The goings-on are grim, grueling and, eventually, grisly. Mensore shoots them with a sharp eye for maintaining coherent spatial relations, which enhances the suspense.” Read more…)

Girl on the Third Floor (horror, Phil “CM Punk” Brooks. Rotten Tomatoes: 81%. Metacritic: 65. From Simon Abrams’ RogerEbert.com review: “The impressive haunted house flick ‘Girl on the Third Floor’ is just as much a machine to produce seductive imagery as it is an effective deconstruction of those blatant symbols. Set in an abandoned home and mostly following a solitary character—ex-lawyer and expectant father Don [Phillip Jack Brooks, A.K.A. former pro-wrestler C.M. Punk]—this blackly comic horror movie is equally concerned with the repressed pleasures and anxieties that are embedded in fetish objects: faded tattoos, silk lingerie, and congealed blood.” Read more…)

The Lighthouse (drama/horror, Willem Dafoe. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%. Metacritic: 83. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Much as he did in his shivery feature debut, ‘The Witch,’ about an isolated family of fundamentalists coming unglued in early 17th-century America, [director Robert] Eggers makes the secluded world in ‘The Lighthouse’ at once recognizable and eerily unfamiliar, a combination that draws you in but makes you feel unsettled. [He shares script credit with Max Eggers, his brother.] The image of the lighthouse evokes visions of high seas and storms as well as the promise of safe passage and harbor. But here, that romantic idea soon sours.” Read more…)

Chained for Life (drama, Jess Weixler. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 79. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Ben Kenigsberg’s Times review: “‘Chained for Life’ aims to complicate ideas about what constitutes beauty and sincerity onscreen. It even hints at a loose parallel between plastic surgery, which can be seen as helping people look the way they feel inside, and filmmaking; both are mechanisms for creating illusions, but also have the potential for revealing hidden truths.” Read more…)

Where’d You Go, Bernadette (comedy, Kate Blanchett. Rotten Tomatoes: 48%. Metacritic: 51. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “The human dark cloud churning violently over ‘Where’d You Go, Bernadette’ doesn’t much fit in anywhere, including in this comedy of crisis. That’s more or less intentional, but it presents a challenge for the director Richard Linklater, whose easygoing filmmaking style and vibe can feel out of sync with the gathering storm.’ Read more…)

The Goldfinch (drama, Ansel Elgort. Rotten Tomatoes: 24%. Metacritic: 40. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “In many ways, ‘The Goldfinch’ approximates what we normally think of as a movie. There are actors — some good ones, too, well known and less so. Nicole Kidman. Sarah Paulson. Jeffrey Wright. Denis O’Hare. Willa Fitzgerald. Ryan Foust. There is music. There is furniture. There are themes and feelings, like loss and grief and the love of beauty and the pleasures of taking drugs, smoking cigarettes and looking attractive. All at once and in succession. But like those dodgy antiques — ‘changelings,’ as their maker supposedly calls them — this film is inauthentic without being completely fake.” Read more…)

Wolf Children (Japanese animated feature. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 71.)

New Blu-Ray
Wolf Children

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Holiday (1938, romantic comedy, Criterion Collection, Cary Grant & Katharine Hepburn. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%.)

New TV
Big Little Lies: Season 2 (crime/drama HBO series, Nicole Kidman. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%. Metacritic: 82.)

New Documentaries
Rothko: Pictures Must Be Miraculous (art history, bio, Mark Rothko)