GuitarTownCT hosts bluegrass jam Sun., June 5, 2-5 PM

The Hamden Bluegrass Jam—hosted by GuitarTown CT Productions takes place Sun., June 5, from 2-5 PM.

There is no cover—although donations to support Best Video Film & Cultural Center are gratefully accepted—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.

David Coller with Rhonda Lehman Davenport Sat., June 4, at 5 PM

David Coller and Rhonda Lehman Davenport perform on the Best Video Film & Cultural Center deck Sat., June 4, stating at 5 PM.

Singer-songwriter David Coller and chanteuse Rhonda Lehman Davenport met at a memorable New Year’s music party back in 2020 where they heard each other sing and knew on the spot they would have to sing together. Since then, they have been working to bring you both David’s original songs and the very best cover tunes from the folk and singer-songwriter world, with occasional forays into jazz, bluegrass, and sea music.

Rhonda began as a folk/rock vocalist in her teens but after a stint at the University of Miami School of Music, moved to Hartford, CT and into the world of jazz. While in Hartford she had the opportunity to study with some of the great vocal coaches, at one point winning the Outstanding Performance Award at the Billy Taylor’s “Jazz in July” juried event by unanimous vote. Rhonda sang jazz for many years, but when she and her husband Herman moved to Newtown, Connecticut she found herself drawn back to her folk music roots.

David has been writing and performing in the folk genre since his teens while maintaining a parallel interest in classical music. He earned a bachelor of arts degree in music from the University of Southern California before moving on to the east coast and a career in the medical world. He continued to play in bands, duos and as a solo performer until being waylaid by a wooden boat (if you’ve ever owned one you understand) and then, on the cusp of a re-emergence, by COVID purgatory (we’ve all been there, haven’t we?)

There will be donation vases for the musicians and the venue. Please consider being generous in supporting musicians—opportunities to perform have been fewer the past couple of years. Suggested donation of $10.

The parking lot is closed off for seating. There is on-street parking on Thornton Street, as well as parking behind our building and across the street at Spring Glen Church.

Click here for the complete list of upcoming events.

Children’s music with Val McKee Sat., June 4, at 10:30 AM

Val McKee plays music for kids in the Best Video Film & Cultural Center parking lot on Saturday morning, June 4, at 10:30 AM.

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 time teaching preschool and 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.

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

Parking available behind Best Video and on Thornton Street.

Click here for the complete list of upcoming events.

The Bargain, Nick Marmor perform Fri., June 3, at 7 PM

The Bargain—a trio featuring Frank Critelli, Shandy Lawson, and Michael Rivers—play Best Video Film & Cultural Center on Friday, June 3. The show starts at 7 PM with an opening set by singer-songwriter Nick Marmor. The cover is $10.

A bargain was struck with the devil and each other to write, record, and perform the songs Frank Critelli, Muddy Rivers, and Shandy Lawson lasso while sitting around the kitchen table.

Nick Marmor is a singer-songwriter and lifelong musician from Hamden, CT. Initially trained in classical music, he began writing rock songs as a teenager while winning awards in classical vocal competitions, and has since written songs in a wide variety of genres. Now based in New York City, he performs his original songs as a solo singer and acoustic guitarist. His band, Wavey Jones, is currently in the process of recording their debut psychedelic reggae fusion album.

This being an inside show, these are our covid protocols: masks and proof of vaccination required.

Click here for the complete list of upcoming events.

Love N’ Co play funk/rock fusion Thurs., June 2

Love n’ Co plays Best Video Film & Cultural Center on Thurs., June 2. The show starts at 7 PM and the cover is $10.

Emerging from New Haven in 2019, Love n’ Co hopes to push their fans and audience members to shoot for the moon—to be the best version of themselves, which is a challenging task for most. With unapologetic lyrics and boastful melodies, Love n’ Co delivers powerful sonic waves that caress the soul, aiding in the journey of self-discovery and raw expression.

The core duo of the band consists of Lovelind Richards and Lamar Smith, the former born and raised in Florida while the latter grew up in Hamden, Connecticut. The band’s sound has been described to have a range, “from high-energy funk to surging pop.” These two are also on their own individual journeys to be the best version of themselves and want to take whoever else they can along for the ride, performing beautiful music all the while.

This being an inside show, these are our covid protocols: masks and proof of vaccination required.

Click here for the complete list of upcoming events.

Acclaimed indie film “Ham on Rye” screens Wed., June 1, with editor & executive producer Kevin Anton as special guest

Best Video Film & Cultural Center screens the acclaimed independent film “Ham on Rye” on Wed., June 1. The event starts at 7 PM and admission is $7.

Kevin Anton, a Hamden-native and editor and an executive producer of “Ham on Rye,” will be on hand to discuss the film—how it got made, its journey through film festivals, and more.

The movie has a 96% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

New York Times critic Glenn Kenny chose it as a “New York Times Critic’s Pick.” Kenny writes:

With his first feature, the director and co-writer Tyler Taormina delivers something at first familiar and then increasingly — but never ostentatiously — strange. “Ham on Rye” can be taken as an allegory for middle-class suburban life in America, but it’s got added value as a potent mood piece, accomplished with a bare minimum of means.

Rolling Stone writer K. Austin Collins awarded the film 4 1/2 out of 5 stars. Collins writes:

The payoff is quiet, but grand. It is referential, but not merely so: “Ham on Rye” is more than just a catalog of our own pop culture memories. I definitely thought of Pennywise the Clown when a balloon got loose for no apparent reason; I thought more than once of “Blue Velvet,” too, if only because the movie’s sense of menace is, though tamped down, more than hinted at. Ultimately, “Ham on Rye”’s best point of reference is itself. It is, like the people therein, one of a kind and completely unforgettable.

The film scored 3 out of 4 stars from Boston Globe film critic Ty Burr. “Aspects of dreaming stick to the edges of this film,” Burr writes. “It’s never clear when we are, with music cues from the early ’60s and late ’90s, cars from the ’80s, an iPod from the turn of the millennium… “Ham on Rye” will frustrate literal-minded audiences, but it’s a work of gentle, genuine American surrealism — a lo-fi love song to those left behind by character and chance.”

Support for this screening has been provided to Best Video Film & Cultural Center from CT Humanities (CTH), with funding provided by the Connecticut State Department of Economic and Community Development/Connecticut Office of the Arts (COA) from the Connecticut State Legislature.

Click here for the complete list of upcoming events.

Best Video founder Hank Paper presents 5-film series starting Tues., May 31

Best Video founder Hank Paper returns to Best Video Film & Cultural Center to present a series “5 Great Films You Might Have Missed During the Pandemic — Or Should See Again and Discuss!” (Not Executive Director Hank Hoffman, who hasn’t left yet!)

Hank Paper founded Best Video in 1985 with 500 movies he could wholeheartedly recommend. In this series—which begins on Tues., May 31, and runs for five consecutive Tuesdays—he screens 1/100th that many movies but still ones that he thinks you need to see! Each screening starts at 7:15 PM and admission is $7. (Thanks to Rabbi Benjamin Scolnic, admission for members of Temple Beth Sholom is free.)

“These are the films that affected me the most during the last couple of years,” Hank Paper says. There will be 2-3 minutes of intro followed by the film on our large screen and a brief discussion for those who wish to stay and discuss.

May 31: Woman at War

For those who always wanted to go to Iceland, here’s your chance to see it in this thrilling Icelandic film about a woman, who longs to adopt a child, but instead wages single-handed war against Iceland’s environmentally destructive aluminum industry. Iceland’s beautiful setting underscores the stakes of the story—and offers one of the cleverest endings of any film.

June 7: One Night in Miami

What do 4 Black icons talk about in a hotel room in Miami? In the aftermath of his surprising knockout of Sonny Liston, Muhammad Ali meets with three friends (Malcolm X, Jim Brown, and Sam Cooke) in a motel room to celebrate his win and discuss each’s trajectory and obligations in the crosshairs of history. Beautifully and inspiringly acted (Cooke’s songs are not only thrillingly entertaining but cleverly figure in the climax of the story), what could have been simply exploitative turns out to be thought-provoking and profound. Director Regina King’s powerful, multi-award-winning tour-de-force—a fictionalization of a real meeting, based on a 2013 play by Kemp Powers—couldn’t come at a better time. This is history written in lightning.

June 14: Sound of Metal

…is not at all about the Punk Rock scene (it actually contains a most delicately sensitive and interesting soundscape) but about love and spiritual healing and people you’ll care about. This unique film features an unforgettable Oscar-nominated performance by Riz Ahmed in a profound journey that is rarely seen in film. In our world of sensory overload, you’ll find an oasis of surcease (so come to watch and relax!)

June 21: The Last Suit

An 88-year-old tailor runs away from his family’s plans for him, deciding instead to return a suit to an old friend that, 45 years earlier, saved his life as an escapee from a concentration camp. He doesn’t know if his friend is still alive or where he lives, and vows not to arrive there by crossing Germany. How is all this possible? This film about one man’s idiosyncratic stubbornness and the kindness of strangers is unforgettable.

June 28: Pig

If “Moonstruck,” “Raising Arizona,” and his Oscar-winning starring role in “Leaving Las Vegas” didn’t make you a Nicholas Cage fan, this film will. In this unconventional love story of a man and his pig, Cage plays a hermit whose beloved truffle-foraging pig is kidnapped, forcing him to return to Portland, Oregon seeking to get him back. You might expect another throw-away Cage revenge film but—not at all. Instead, you will find yourself on a profound spiritual odyssey exploring issues of authenticity, celebrity, gourmet cuisine, and the grace of finding something you truly care about. And—instead of the realist acting style so pervasive today—you will discover, in Cage, the deep, emotional, performative acting of a latter-day Marlon Brando. This is my favorite film of the year.

Support for this series has been provided to Best Video Film & Cultural Center from Connecticut Humanities (CTH), with funding provided by the Connecticut State Department of Economic and Community Development/Connecticut Office of the Arts (COA) from the Connecticut State Legislature.

The series is also sponsored by Temple Beth Sholom. TBS members may attend free.

Click here for the complete list of upcoming events.

Secret Cinema, hosted by Rob Harmon, Sun., May 29, at 7:30

Best Video staffer Rob Harmon hosts another edition of a semi-regular cult film series under the rubric “Secret Cinema.” The next Secret Cinema takes place Mon., May 9, at 7:30 PM. Along with the night’s movie, Rob shows relevant film trailers and cranks up the Best Video popcorn machine for cinema-appropriate snacking.

The movie starts at 8 PM; the programming starts at 7:30 with some relevant videos chosen by Rob.

This is an indoor show so attendance is 30 max. Proof of vaccination is required to enter and masks are required.

Secret Cinema is free but donations to support Best Video Film & Cultural Center and its programming are always welcome. For more info (including what the movie title is), call BVFCC at (203) 287-9286 or sign up for email list on the front page of BestVideo.com.

Click here for the complete list of upcoming events.

Solo guitar by Glenn Roth Sat., May 28

Solo guitarist Glenn plays the Best Video Film & Cultural Center deck on Sat., May 28. the show starts at 5 PM.

Glenn Roth is not your typical commuter from Connecticut. Instead of a briefcase, he carries a gig bag. His workspace is the vaulted splendor of Grand Central Terminal or the tunnels and platforms of the New York City subway system. A literal underground sensation, Glenn is a licensed performer in the MTAs Music under New York program, playing for the most distracted and demanding audience in the world: legions of workers rushing to jobs throughout the Big Apple. And his fingers work magic, creating a soundscape of compelling melodies that invite them to leave the city rush behind on an aural escape.

There will be donation vases for the musicians and the venue. Please consider being generous in supporting musicians—opportunities to perform have been fewer the past couple of years. Suggested donation for Glenn of $10.

The parking lot is closed off for seating. There is on-street parking on Thornton Street, as well as parking behind our building and across the street at Spring Glen Church.

Click here for the complete list of upcoming events.

Connecticut Suzuki Guitar Academy recital Fri., May 27, 6:30 PM

Best Video Film & Cultural Center presents a program of classical guitar music from students of the Connecticut Suzuki Guitar Academy on Fri., May 27. The show starts at 6:30 PM and the cover is $10.

As this is an inside show, proof of vaccination and masks are required.

The Connecticut Suzuki Guitar Academy, founded by David Veslocki, delivers instruction to students in and around Norwalk, CT. The Academy delivers individual and ensemble instruction that has produced a level of playing that is nationally recognized by multiple competitions. Trevor Babb began teaching with CSGA in the fall of 2019 and will be leading two of the school’s advanced ensembles—one quartet and one sextet—at Best Video in a mixture of traditional and modern repertoire for guitar ensemble.

The program will feature music by Andrew York, Bach, Vivaldi, Hindemith, Haydn, and more.

Click here for the complete list of upcoming events.