Music: GuitarTownCT presents Phillips, Grier & Flinner Fri., Aug. 16, at 7:30 PM

GuitarTownCT Concerts presents Phillips, Grier & Flinner on their 20th Reunion tour at Best Video Performance Space Friday, Aug. 16. The show starts at 7:30 PM. Advance tickets are $35 and available through

David Grier, guitar, Matt Flinner, mandolin, and Todd Phillips, bass, are three of the most accomplished and well-known musicians in acoustic music. “Bluegrass supergroup,” an overused phrase, is true in this case. This tour marks 20 years since their debut album. Their resumes are too long to list. Suffice it to say that they are the best of the best. They have all appeared at GuitartownCT in various configurations, but never together.

Bluegrass Unlimited, “It’s amazing how full an acoustic trio can sound. Fans of exquisitely played acoustic music will want to check out the newest ‘power trio’ in string music.” JazzTimes: “Their playing is exquisite without exception!”

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Music: Semaphora, Them Airs play Thursday, Aug. 15, at 7:30 PM

Semaphora and Them Airs play Best Video Performance Space on Thursday, Aug. 15. The show starts at 7:30 PM and the cover is a sliding scale of $5-10 (pay what you can in that range).

Semaphora is the musical project of composer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Lydia Arachne, whose songs draw inspiration from the peculiar lyrical insights of Kate Bush and the harmonic textures of Steely Dan. At its foundation, Semaphora is rock music, but with patches of jazz, reggae, and folk sewn in, all guided forward by dense, poetic lyrics about unconventional subjects.

Arachne (drums) will be joined for this show by Gina Rizzo (vocals), Jess Plude (keyboard), Ace Carlson (guitar), Kelly L’Heureux (bass), and making her debut as a part of the Semaphora family, Sarah Golley, whom the Connecticut scene will recognize from Tyrone Shoelaces, as well as her own incredible keyboard-and-voice solo performances.

Them Airs—formerly known as Mirror Waves—are an amorphous squadron of musical hotboys that include a wayward levee wash boy, a hypocritical graphic designer and a modernist architecture curator. Using a variety of pre-millennium gear, they make a big filthy mess influenced equally by the Canadian post-punk underground and childhood fever dreams.

What is it? Noise rock, post-punk, janglegaze, hip earth, antifa, you name it. Band members are Cade Williams, Evan Nork, Adam Cohen, and Nate Johnston.

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Strut your stuff at Second Wednesday Open Mic, Wed., Aug. 14, at 7 PM

Musicians! Comedians! Poets! Magicians! Spoken word artists! The Second Wednesday Open Mic takes place Wednesday, Aug. 14, 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.

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Music: Adventurous, ambient music by Toby Driver, Jeremiah Cymerman Fri., Aug. 9

Toby Driver and Jeremiah Cymerman play Best Video Performance Space on Friday, Aug. 9. The show starts at 8 PM and the cover is a sliding scale of $5-10 (pay what you can in that range).

Toby Driver, the artist behind such infamous, progressive, cult, chamber-oriented projects as maudlin of the Well and Kayo Dot injected new life into his long-dormant solo project early last year with his first album in a decade.

Driver returns with They Are the Shield, the prolific composer’s first album in over twelve years that harks back to songwriting structures developed and perfected in his maudlin of the Well days. Notes of singer-songwriter sensibilities simmer beneath a fog of synthesizers, expansive soundscapes, lush chamber orchestrations, and sullen atmospheres, punctuated and driven with a soft percussive heartbeat.

Jeremiah Cymerman (b. 1980) is a New York City based musician and producer working at the intersection of many disparate contemporary musical traditions including improvised, electroacoustic and experimental music. Active since the early 2000s “the protean composer and improviser has made an indelible mark on NYC’s DIY avant scene” writes the Brooklyn Observer.

His recorded output, with multiple releases on Tzadik and his own 5049 Records, ranging from albums for solo clarinet, creative orchestra, amplified string quartet and acoustic improvisation, has been described by the Wire as “blown out studio creations that merge extended reed techniques with the crushing, airless sonics of black metal.”

Developing a formidable reputation as a clarinetist “he has an approach that is uniquely his own, a kind of passionate and relentless search for meaningful sound, or sound creation in the broadest sense. His instrument, often electronically supported, is only a tool to achieve this, and paradoxically, by doing so, he also changes the possibilities of his instrument itself.” writes Stef Gijssels of the Free Jazz Blog.

Click here for the complete list of upcoming events.

Music: Tate & Silas, Anchor play indie rock Thurs., Aug. 8

The duo of Tate & Silas and the indie rock band Anchor play Best Video Performance Space on Thursday, Aug. 8. The show starts at 8 PM and the cover is a sliding scale of $5-10 (pay what you can in that range).

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.

Music: On the Trail, new bluegrass quartet, plays Wed., Aug. 7

On the Trail plays Best Video Performance Space on Wednesday, Aug. 7. The show starts at 8 PM and the cover is $5.

Featuring four musicians from four very different backgrounds, On The Trail is a modern acoustic quartet that explores everything from bluegrass to contemporary pop, from stunning instrumentals to beautiful traditional songs. The band bonded from their love of bluegrass and the band Punch Brothers, and has already gained recognition and praise for their exploration and strong execution of the challenging music, as well as for their new original music. On The Trail also features Austin Scelzo-fiddle and vocals, Tom Polizzi-mandolin and vocals, and Charlie Widmer-guitar and vocals.

Click here for the complete list of upcoming events.

New releases 7/30/19

Top Hits

Long Shot (comedy, Seth Rogen. Rotten Tomatoes: 81%. Metacritic: 67. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Times review: “‘Long Shot’ isn’t going to save the romantic comedy, but it’s an adrenaline shot of pure pleasure to the genre’s failing heart. The outline is familiar: Two people meet, retreat and then circle each other, all while talking and talking. The romantic comedy turns on people who fit together — in bed, on the dance floor — but also talk to each other, exchanging words that stop flowing and faltering only with a culminating kiss and teasing fade-out. The difference here is that unlike a lot of romances, the woman retains her power and identity, and that’s how the movie likes it.” Read more…)

Hellboy (action, David Harbour. Rotten Tomatoes: 18%. Metacritic: 31. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Exuberantly British and quite possibly off its rocker, ‘Hellboy’ is a crack pipe of a movie. Rebooting Guillermo del Toro’s 2004 and 2008 appropriations of Mike Mignola’s comic-book character — a rosacea-hued colossus with filed-down horns and do-gooder goals — the British director Neil Marshall turns all the dials to 11 and keeps them there. This aural and visual assault poses the question: Exactly how much stimulation do studios think audiences need?” Read more…)

Fast Color (sci-fi/drama, Gugu Mbatha-Raw. Rotten Tomatoes: 81%. Metacritic: 65. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “‘Fast Color’ is many things — a dreamlike dystopian drama; a warm celebration of family and female power; a teasing hint of superhero-origin story — none of which fully explains its gentle grip on our attention. What it is not, is speedy, with a narrative that moves carefully, even languidly, and visuals so beautifully patient that we have time to memorize their texture and import. Special effects are all the more so for being used sparingly, and the movie’s few characters feel no need to be constantly explaining themselves. For fairly long stretches, there are no major incidents — which is not the same as saying that nothing happens.” Read more…)

Family (comedy, Taylor Schilling. Rotten Tomatoes: 76%. Metacritic: 60. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “‘Family,’ Laura Steinel’s lightweight first feature, relies on audiences buying into the old chestnut that difficult women would be happier [or just easier to be around] if forced to care for a child. In this version, the woman is a tactless workaholic who needs to connect with her feelings; just don’t expect those to entail an even greater appreciation for her job.” Read more…)

Body At Brighton Rock (thriller, Karina Fontes. Rotten Tomatoes: 67%. Metacritic: 53. From Joe Leydon’s Variety review: “Filmmaker Roxanne Benjamin spends a tad too much time on the character-establishing setup during the first act of her ‘Body at Brighton Rock.’ Once she has lured her audience into joining her plucky but ill-prepared protagonist into a secluded area of a picturesque state park, however, the first-time director efficiently ratchets up the suspense — gradually, arrestingly — and doesn’t let up until she springs a final twist that plays like O. Henry by way of Stephen King.” Read more…)

The Intruder (horror, Dennis Quaid. Rotten Tomatoes: 31%. Metacritic: 39. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘The Intruder,’ a real-estate-based thriller set in California’s Napa Valley, is more silly than scary. This doesn’t seem to be entirely intentional, and it isn’t altogether unwelcome. The idea of Dennis Quaid popping up in your kitchen in the middle of the night might not exactly be the stuff of nightmares. Quaid, playing a deranged ex-homeowner named Charlie Peck, seems to know this. And the director, Deon Taylor, does too.” Read more…)

We Have Always Lived in the Castle (drama/mystery, Taissa Farmiga. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. Metacritic: 63. From Jennifer Szalai’s New York Times review: “In ‘We Have Always Lived in the Castle,’ a playfully arch and unsettling film based on Shirley Jackson’s 1962 novel, there’s nobody obvious to root for; everyone is dour, foolish, phony or deranged. Possibly even murderous. Under Stacie Passon’s precise direction, this gothic fable of isolation and violence expertly treads a fine line between tragedy and camp.” Read more…)

Domino (action, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. Rotten Tomatoes: 33%. Metacritic: 40. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “[Director Brian] De Palma can’t realize all the elaborate effects he clearly wanted [the film’s climax occurs at a bullfight that’s conspicuously not crowded]. But his direction often compensates with B-movie energy, particularly when he’s able to concentrate on his perverse vision. The death-dealing, all-voyeurism-all-the-time world that De Palma has been imagining in some form or another since the late ’60s, has, he recognizes, finally come into actual being, and it’s worse than he, or anyone, ever imagined.” Read more…)

Action Point (comedy, Johnny Knoxville. Rotten Tomatoes: 13%. Metacritic: 36. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “If it’s fair to chide ‘Jackass the Movie’ as an extended episode of the MTV show, then it’s fair to point out that ‘Action Point,’ effectively a spinoff of that series, is a lazy summer romp in the ‘Meatballs’ tradition with a handful of ‘Jackass’-style stunts as the scantiest of hooks.” Read more…)

Black ’47 (action/drama set in 19th century Ireland, Hugo Weaving. Rotten Tomatoes: 78%. Metacritic: 65. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “Directed by Lance Daly, the movie, which was handsomely staged and shot, provides some lively historical detail concerning the exploitation of Irish Catholics. In an aptly harrowing scene, it depicts ‘Souperism,’ wherein evangelical Protestants offered a meal to poor, starving Catholics in exchange for conversion. But the period and its horrors take a back seat to an occasionally exhilarating action-revenge plot, with James Frecheville as the quiet soldier turned killing machine, and Hugo Weaving as a British man hunter with whom he shares a connection.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray

Long Shot
Action Point

New American Back Catalog (post-1960)

A Rage to Live (1965, drama, Suzanne Pleshette)

New TV

BoJack Horseman: Seasons 1 & 2 (animated N*tfl*x [boo! hiss!] series. Rotten Tomatoes: 67% [Season 1], 100% [Season 2]. Metacritic: 59/90.)

New Documentaries

Hail Satan? (free speech, religion, The Satanic Temple. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%. Metacritic: 76. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Ben Kenigsberg’s Times review: “As the Scandinavian academic Jesper Aagaard Petersen explains in the film, Satanists were trolls before the contemporary sense of that word existed. The Satanic Temple, founded in 2013, is basically the Yes Men with an ethos, using humor and outrageous behavior to call attention to hypocrisy, particularly when it comes to incursions of religion into the public sphere.” Read more…)

The Most Dangerous Year (civil rights, transgender rights, family. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 68. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “The thorniest scenes show tensions playing out at hearings and public meetings, where both sides clash. While ‘The Most Dangerous Year’ can be intensely personal — [director Vlada] Knowlton [who has a transgender daughter] speaks of the pain she felt watching visitors to a strawberry festival sign the petition for the anti-transgender ballot measure — it is primarily an informational documentary, not a film with artistic pretensions. But it makes its case effectively.” Read more…)


Music: Kath Bloom, Powers/Rolin Duo, Austin Larkin play Sun., Aug. 4, at 7 PM

Renowned folk/singer-songwriter Kath Bloom returns to Best Video Performance Space on Sunday, Aug. 4. Joining Bloom on the bill is the Ohio-based Powers/Rolin Duo and violinist Austin Larkin. This early show starts at 7 PM and the cover is a sliding scale of $7-10 (pay what you can in that range).

For fans of the song and how to feel it. Kath Bloom (USA) is some kind of legend. She comes from a special place where country, blues and folk are made beautifully translucent and emotive. She has a special gift – her voice is delicate and tender, yet retains that raw emotion and hard worn truths that allows each sung word to be felt.

The more you hear of Kath Bloom, the more you notice it’s not just the arresting voice, but the power of the songwriting. “Beautiful” is the typical response—the kind of beauty that comes from truth, musical and the deeply lyrical. There are no good comparisons, but if you like the deep well of Emmylou Harris, the more poignant lyrics of Lou Reed, the joy of Maher Shalal Hash Baz or even Joni Mitchell, you’re kinda in the right zone. In reality, she’s simply Kath Bloom: horse whisperer, vocalist, mum, songwriter and a beautiful person.

Her albums recorded with Loren Mazzacane Connors in the 70′s/80′s are rare things, full of songs that float and melt into the ether. Impossibly beautiful and hard to find on LP, but check the reissues from a few years ago. In the 90′s Kath’s music was famously featured in Richard Linklater’s film Before Sunrise. Since then she has been busy writing and recording to great acclaim. Two new albums in the last few years and she and her songs where also honoured on a tribute album featuring Bill Callahan, Scout Niblett and Mark Kozelek.

Powers/Rolin Duo are an improvisational folk drone group based in Columbus, OH. Jen Powers is a former member of Autophonia, whose Scioto Records cassette release “Nolite Te Bastardes Carborundorum” was featured by Marc Masters in his Best Experimental Music on Bandcamp article in April of 2019. Matthew J. Rolin has made a name for himself in the guitar soli community over the past three years; his third solo album is set for vinyl and digital release by Feeding Tube Records by the end of 2019. In this project, Jen plays a lightly effected hammered dulcimer and Matthew plays an acoustic 12-string guitar. Together, they create hypnotic tapestries of sound that are both meditative and emotionally dynamic. They have shared bills with Luke Stewart, Amps for Christ, Itasca, Elkhorn, Charalambides, David Nance Group, Mountain Movers, Anthony Pasquarosa, and many more, and have collaborated with Wolf Eyes, Aaron Dilloway, and others.

Austin Larkin is an artist focusing on sound. His work includes performance and composition for violin, ensembles of instruments, electronic media, environments, instances. He recently relocated to New Haven from the Seattle, WA area.

Click here for the complete list of upcoming events.

Children’s Music: Val McKee plays Sat. morning, Aug. 3, at 10:30 AM

Val McKee plays music for kids at Best Video Film & Cultural Center on Saturday morning, Aug. 3, at 10:30 AM.

Suggested donation is $5-10 per family but nobody will be turned away for lack of funds.

Val McKee is a writer, musician, and teacher of both. While Val fronts the band “Junebug Saddle” and has been lucky enough to share a stage or two with some of the area’s finest musicians, she is far more popular with the toddler and preschool audience.

To see just how many little friends Val has made in her ten years of teaching Music Together, join her for a trip to Stop & Shop and wait for the inevitable toddler squeal down an aisle “It’s MISS VAL!” According to Val, being a children’s musician in New Haven is the greatest version of rock star status–like an adorable, fun-sized Beatlemania.

A Tennessee native and mom of three boys, Val’s performances are full of folk and children’s music classics, with plenty of play, education, and humor–heavy on the silly.

Click here for the complete list of upcoming events.

Music: The Mandingo Ambassadors play authentic West African music Fri., Aug. 2

Mamady Kouyate of The Mandingo Ambassadors.

The amazing Mandingo Ambassadors return to Best Video Film & Cultural Center on Friday, Aug. 2, for another sensational show of authentic West African music, led by guitarist Mamady Kouyate. The show starts at 8 PM and the cover is $10.

For those who have seen The Mandingo Ambassadors at Best Video in one of their two previous appearances here, know that they will be taking a somewhat different approach for this gig.

For this show, they are adding an element of West African Classical music to their usual West African Jazz repertoire. This will be a mostly acoustic gig featuring two new—to their performances at Best Video—traditional instruments, the kora and balafon.

The personnel will also be different, and as follows: Mamady “Djelike” Kouyate (guitar),  Arouna “Mamoudouba” Kouyate/ Aaron Latham Greenberg (Kora and Vocals), Dylan Olimpi McDonnell (Flute/Alto Sax), Andy Algire (Bala), Frank Brocklehurst (Bass), and Matt Dean (Percussion).

The show will include at least one (possibly two) performances of traditional Mande “Tariku” or oral histories, sung in the style of the court bards of the old Mali Empire (1230-1630 CE). Think “Game of Thrones”, but with about 100% less white people, and you’re halfway there. These will be performed in Maninka, but then translated into English for the few audience members whose Maninka may be a little rusty.

Click here for the complete list of upcoming events.