Music: Zoo Front, Anne Castellano & The Smoke play Thurs., Oct. 17, at 7:30 PM

Zoo Front.

The indie rock bands Zoo Front and Anne Castellano & The Smoke plays Best Video Performance Space on Thursday, Oct. 17. The show starts at 7:30 PM and the cover is a sliding scale of $5-10 (pay what you can in that range).

The last couple of years have been busy ones for Zoo Front. Their CD Red Stereo Dress marked the beginning of a new era for the band, with Nancie Tief making her singing and songwriting debut. Adding to the fun, they adopted a new working philosophy they call ABM – “ambient background mischief.” The idea is to add a subliminal track to each song that somehow fills out the sound in a way that defies definition. The personnel is Ed Ekendu (Guitar), Nancie Tief (Guitar),  Lisa Tonner (Drums) and Ju Dee Luna (bass).
Anne Castellano and the Smoke was formed in December 2011. The band has released a full-length CD, “Electric”, which came out in 2013, and an EP, “Bridge to Nowhere”, which was released in 2015. The band is currently working as a three-piece, with Anne Castellano on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Vincent Tuckwood on bass and vocals, and Tony Castellano on drums and vocals. They are playing shows and finishing up their second album.

Music: Acoustic songs from Gilead Road Wed., Oct. 16

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

Gilead Road is an acoustic duo singing original songs sprinkled with contemporary and traditional favorites. Their songs tell stories of personal history and reflect on life in today’s wild world. Lizzy sings and Glenn brings his guitar, voice and songwriting. Together they spark a chemistry that is more than the sum of its parts.

Lizzy grew up singing in her church choir, in glee club and with her mother. Lizzy’s childhood friends, Annie and Barbi, taught her to hold a strong melody line while they sang harmony. They spent hours singing songs from The Judy Collins Songbook. Lizzy traveled to Appalachia in 1975 and was introduced to Hedy West and her glorious old time banjo music. Three children arrived and so did nightly lullabies and lusty singing in the car on road trips. The kids knew all the words to the Nanci Griffith and John Prine albums that were on endless repeat on the car stereo.

Lizzy continued singing in church choirs, and especially delighted in singing with the vibrant gospel choir, Salt and Pepper, and in the AME Zion Church. In 1998, she fulfilled a longtime dream of being in a band and founded the New Haven group, “The Lucky Dogs.” She loves finding solidly written stories to sing and looks at covers as a way to share in the creation of those wonderful songs.

Glenn grew up playing the classical violin and listened to truly horrible British Rock bands that have sunk deep into deserved obscurity. He was a storyteller from a very young age. He delighted his cousins with long rambling bedtime stories and often gave his mother a choice of two explanations of why he was out after curfew, one of which contained the truth. Glenn has played in several local bands, including Jazz Folks and currently plays with the award winning Heather Fay (Best Folk Artist, CT Music Awards 2015/2016) and with The Girls From Ruby Falls (Best Americana Band, CT Music Awards 2016).

Glenn writes songs that tell stories of love, home, and family lore and Lizzy loves to sing them.

Gilead Road has just released their first album. It will be available at CD Baby and through their website, GileadRoad.com. You can also pick up a copy at the Best Video concert on October 16th!

Click here for the complete list of upcoming events.

Music: Hans Bilger, Amber Anchor play Mon., Oct. 14, at 8 PM

Indie folk artist Hans Bilger and Americana duo Amber Anchor play Best Video Performance Space on Monday, Oct. 14. The show starts at 8 PM and the cover is a sliding scale of $5-10 (pay what you can in that range).

Hans Bilger is a bassist, singer, songwriter and composer from Brooklyn, NY. After an early diet of country and bluegrass music provided by his family band, the Charismatic Megafauna, he pursued formal training in improvised and classical music. His mentors include the bassists Greg Cohen (Ornette Coleman, Tom Waits), Samuel Suggs (Concert Artists Guild), Paul Kowert (Punch Brothers), J.A. Granelli (Mr. Lucky), Axel Scherka (Staatskapelle Berlin), Kurt Muroki (Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center), and others.

Bilger moved to Austin, TX in 2016, where he quickly became a sought-after sideman and session bassist. Recent projects include recordings with Eli Greenhoe, Odell Fox, R.O. Shapiro, Jenner Fox, Micah Motenko, and Will Taylor. Last year, he was commissioned to compose the score for Cora Dance’s gifts, a site-specific work choreographed by Shannon Hummel. The work premiered in Brooklyn in January 2019. Meridian, Bilger’s first album as a leader, will be released this September by Good Child Music.

Bilger is also fascinated by the natural world. While studying evolutionary biology at Yale University, he co-authored a study on musical structure in birdsong with the ornithologist Dr. Richard Prum and wrote Aviary, a piece that uses songbird songs as raw material for a series of improvisatory and through-composed movements. Last fall, he joined the labs of Drs. Julia Clarke and Michael Ryan at UT Austin to start a PhD on the evolution of vocal communication in birds, bats and frogs. His scientific work is supported by fellowships from the National Science Foundation, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), and UT Austin. He is currently at work on Austin Menagerie (working title), a series of musical sketches based on Texas fauna.

Bilger currently lives in Berlin, Germany, where he splits his time between writing, performing, and CT-scanning bat larynges at the Museum für Naturkunde.

Hometown Easton-based favorite, Amber Anchor, builds upon the great tradition of American folk. Dan Tressler and Jeff Smith are revered for both their vocal harmonies, and their ability to seamlessly swap between guitar, fiddle, mandolin, and banjo. The duo often performs at the Tressler Barn, a timeless space filled with antique furniture, cozy fires, potluck feasts, and a spirit of camaraderie and authenticity.

Click here for the complete list of upcoming events.

Music: Django’s Reserve swings gypsy jazz Fri., Oct. 11

Django’s Reserve plays Best Video Performance Space Friday, Oct. 11. The show starts at 8 PM and the cover is $10.

Django’s Reserve is an acoustic ensemble that performs jazz in the style of European gypsies, made famous by the great Sinti guitar virtuoso Django Reinhardt in the 1930s through the 50s. This tradition continues throughout the world today, renowned for its spirited improvisation and driving rhythms.

While always paying homage to the greats, Django’s Reserve infuses each performance with original arrangements, personality, and a deep connection to the music as a living art.

The group is Luke Hendon, Preston Parish and Johnny Florio on guitars along with Jamie Doris on bass and singer-songwriter Emma Rae.

Click here for the complete list of upcoming events.

Music: Restless Mountain Bluegrass Band plays Thurs., Oct. 10

Restless Mountain Bluegrass Band plays Best Video Performance Space on Thursday, Oct. 10. The show starts at 8 PM and the cover is a sliding scale of $5-10 (pay what you can in that range).

Restless Mountain Bluegrass Band has performed in various configurations in Connecticut for over a decade, and reconstituted in 2017 with several new musicians, a new song mix and new presentation. Matt Fleury (vocals, banjo), Jerry Devokaitis (vocals, guitar), Scott Camara (Dobro), Dave Aston (bass) have each been active bluegrass musicians for many years.

Restless Mountain Bluegrass Band always offers a fun mix of traditional standards and entertaining classics that bring fond memories and a smile. From music stages to special occasions, we’ll entertain!

Click here for the complete list of upcoming events.

New releases 10/1/19

Top Hits
Spider-Man: Far from Home (comic book action, Tom Holland. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%. Metacritic: 69. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “As is often the case with these movies, a smaller, livelier entertainment is nested inside the roaring, clanking digital machinery. The filmmakers try to enliven the big fights and action sequences by injecting a bit of self-consciousness about the illusion-driven craft they pursue, and a few sequences take place in an austere, dreamlike virtual realm where visually interesting things are allowed to happen.” Read more…)

Spider in the Web (action, Ben Kingsley. Rotten Tomatoes: 75%. From Noel Murray’s Los Angeles Times review: “The spy thriller ‘Spider in the Web’ is a well-made albeit overly reserved drama, directed by Eran Riklis [best known for ‘Lemon Tree’] from a screenplay by Gidon Maron and Emmanuel Naccache. It’s a high-minded action film, about the grueling demands of espionage work, featuring the kind of story that’s been told many times in literary spy novels. But [actor Ben] Kingsley makes it special.” Read more…)

Driven (comedy based on true story, Jason Sudeikis. Rotten Tomatoes: 67%. Metacritic: 58. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Somewhere deep inside ‘Driven’ — Nick Hamm’s based-on-real-life crime caper — lies a fascinating movie. We catch glimpses whenever Lee Pace, playing the automobile entrepreneur John DeLorean, gilds his ho-hum dialogue in unexpected layers of foreboding. And we hear it crackling through the F.B.I. sting operation that would lead to DeLorean’s 1984 trial for drug trafficking. To make that movie, though, would have required a less glib tone and an infinitely more focused script.” Read more…)

Bodied (comedy/drama, Calum Worthy. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic: 75. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “With visuals as kinetic as its language, Joseph Kahn’s ‘Bodied’ is an outrageously smart, shockingly funny satire of P.C. culture whose words gush so quickly you’ll want to see it twice. Set in the world of battle rap where combatants square off to exchange what amounts to exquisitely tuned insult poetry, the story [by Alex Larsen, a.k.a. Kid Twist, a 10-year veteran of the battle rap scene] follows Adam [Calum Worthy], a gawky grad student and a paperwhite audience surrogate. Researching rap’s use of the N-word, Adam is entranced by the vim and creativity of the performers and their utter lack of linguistic inhibition.” Read more…)

Anna and the Apocalypse (horror, Ella Hunt. Rotten Tomatoes: 78%. Metacritic: 63. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Like some features that originated as short movies, ‘Anna and the Apocalypse’ never earns its longer running time. [This one’s short, ‘Zombie Musical,’ was directed by Ryan McHenry, who died in 2015.] Zombies and teenagers may seem like a natural fit (certainly Disney banked on it), but ‘Anna and the Apocalypse’ is more sketch than developed movie.” Read more…)

Sister Aimee (drama, Anna Margaret Hollyman. Rotten Tomatoes: 69%. Metacritic: 52. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “With ‘Sister Aimee,’ the writers and directors Samantha Buck and Marie Schlingmann turn a bizarre, real-life event from the 1920s — the sudden disappearance of the celebrity evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson — into a mischievous feminist fable. Confessing upfront about their gleeful fictions, the filmmakers reimagine a roughly five-week period in 1926 when McPherson [wholeheartedly played by Anna Margaret Hollyman] disappeared from a beach and was presumed dead.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Spider-Man: Far from Home

New Foreign DVDs
The Silent Revolution (Germany, drama, Leonard Scheicher. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%. From Jay Weissberg’s Variety review: “A fascinating footnote in mid-20th-century German history gets an expectedly worthy treatment by writer-director Lars Kraume in ‘The Silent Revolution,’ one of those deeply respectful historical fictionalizations where the good people are allowed character development and the bad people largely remain very, very bad. Set in 1956 when a senior classroom of East German high schoolers subversively held a two-minute silence for those just killed in the Hungarian Revolution, the film sticks to a classic mainstream retelling [roughly based on the memoir of one of the participants] where the only unforeseen element is an odd Christian overlay.” Read more…)

New TV
Chernobyl (HBO mini-series on 1980s Soviet Union nuke meltdown. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 83. From Mike Hale’s New York Times television review: “How do you dramatize a great big mess? The 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster is a subject full of gripping detail and historical and scientific import. But as a story, it’s hard to get your arms around — sprawling and repetitious, dependent on arcane particulars of physics and engineering, marked by failures to act and by large-scale action that accomplishes nothing. ‘Chernobyl,’ a five-part mini-series starting Monday on HBO [in coproduction with the British network Sky], takes what you could call a Soviet approach to telling the tale. This is incongruous, since one of the messages of the program is that Soviet approaches don’t work. But there it is: the imposition of a simple narrative on history, the twisting of events to create one-dimensional heroes and villains, the broad-brush symbolism.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Framing John DeLorean (bio/dramatization, Alec Baldwin. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 67. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “‘Framing John DeLorean,’ a smart, hook-filled blend of documentary and fictionalized re-enactments, opens with a question: Why haven’t more movies been made about John DeLorean? Because the story of the maverick, egocentric automaker, whose name is practically synonymous with the excesses of the midcentury American car industry, is ready-made for the silver screen.” Read more…)

The Quiet One (bio, music, Rolling Stones, Bill Wyman. Rotten Tomatoes: 67%. Metacritic: 57. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “‘The Quiet One,’ an engaging documentary on Wyman directed by Oliver Murray and derived from the voluminous archives that Wyman has been keeping for decades, mostly deals indirectly with Wyman’s signature achievement. [The bassist retired from the Stones in the early 1990s.] Its main thrust derives from the contradictions inherent in his life story: A mild-mannered fellow enters the music business just to play, winds up in a controversial and wildly successful rock group, and manages, for a long time, to sidestep most of this situation’s pitfalls by dint of his subdued personality and relatively sober lifestyle.” Read more…)

Maiden (adventure, sailing, Tracy Edwards. Rotten Tomatoes: 98%. Metacritic: 82. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “If you want to get an idea of how women, their lives and their contributions get written out of history, consider the Wikipedia entry on ‘The 1989-1990 Whitbread Round the World Race,’ which includes the following two simple, factually correct sentences: ‘This race featured the first all-woman crew on Tracy Edwards’ Maiden. Although in a much smaller boat than many of their male counterparts the women fared well — claiming two leg victories in Division D.’ These lines are dutifully informative. They’re also a maddeningly incomplete record of how Edwards, who turned 27 during the race, and her young team became headline news across the world. If you want the fuller, richer story of the women’s journey — their struggles at sea and on land, including virulent sexism — the place to turn is ‘Maiden,’ a sleek, exhilarating documentary look back at their race into history.” Read more…)

The Proposal (art/architecture, Luis Barragán, Jill Magid. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 80. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “‘The Proposal,’ Jill Magid’s captivatingly wily documentary about her attempt to liberate the archives of the renowned Mexican architect Luis Barragán, wears many faces. Detailing at once an art project and a rescue mission, a love triangle and an elaborate, outlandish bargain, the movie has a surface serenity that belies its fuming emotions.” Read more…)

Robin Williams: Comic Genius (bio, stand-up comedy, Robin Williams)

New Music DVDs
The Quiet One (bio, music, Rolling Stones, Bill Wyman)

Second Wednesday Open Mic takes place Wed., Oct. 9, at 7 PM

Musicians! Comedians! Poets! Magicians! Spoken word artists! The Second Wednesday Open Mic takes place Wednesday, Oct. 9, 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.

Support Paint Hamden Pink fight against breast cancer through purchases at Best Video cafe Fri., Oct. 4

Come visit Best Video Film & Cultural Center anytime on Oct. 4 and for every cafe purchase, they will donate 10% of the sales to Making Strides Against Breast Cancer as part of Paint Hamden Pink.

Paint Hamden Pink’s statement:

Breast cancer is a cause that is personal to so many people at our company. That’s why we’re joining the nation’s largest network of breast cancer events – the American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. We’ll raise money and awareness and together we can continue to save lives.

The American Cancer Society is an important resource for women who are newly diagnosed with breast cancer. We owe it to those women to support the organization that does more than any other for them by funding innovative research and providing free information and services.

We are proud to be participating in Making Strides Against Breast Cancer and thrilled about the difference that our associates and their families are making to save lives from breast cancer.

Music: The Elm City Ramblers play bluegrass & traditional folk Tues., Oct. 8, at 7:30 PM

The Elm City Ramblers, led by Phil Rosenthal, play Best Video Performance Space on Tuesday, Oct. 8. The music starts at 7:30 PM and the cover is $5.

The Elm City Ramblers are a talented group of bluegrass/folk musicians, led by local bluegrass legend Phil Rosenthal, playing an assortment of classic, contemporary and original songs. They meet weekly at the Neighborhood Music School, but make occasional appearances in the area, and are delighted to bring their music to Best Video! The group includes Mike Milano on banjo; Lenore Hammers on fiddle; Barbara Dobay Ljungstrom on autoharp; Bill Kaplan, Thom Peters, Rich Walser and Phil on guitar; Brian Funaro, Estelle Baik, Ruth Lively and Matt Light on mandolin; and John Jarvis on bass.

Phil Rosenthal was lead singer and guitarist in the seminal bluegrass band the Seldom Scene. His compositions have been recorded by Johnny Cash, Bill Monroe, Nick Cave and others. He was selected Connecticut State Troubadour in 1994, and has been called “a roots master” by Billboard Magazine and “one of the most expressive singers in traditional country music” by the Washington Post.

He has performed with Jerry Douglas, Bill Monroe, Emmylou Harris, Jonathan Edwards and many others in his career in folk and bluegrass music.

Click here for the complete list of upcoming events.

Music: GuitarTownCT bluegrass jam Sun., Oct. 6, from 2-5 PM

The “First Sunday” Hamden Bluegrass Jam—hosted by GuitarTown CT Productions takes place Sunday, Oct. 6, from 2-5 PM.

There is no cover so come on down—have a coffee, beer or glass of wine and enjoy the music. It’s all acoustic and mostly traditional. Any and all bluegrass players are welcome.

Bring your instrument or just bring your ears. Come to pick or just to listen.

Click here for the complete list of upcoming events.