Music: Fernando Pinto Presents Claudia Schmidt Sun., Feb. 2, at 6:30 PM, with Cathy Kreger & Caroline Doctorow Duo

Fernando Pinto presents Claudia Schmidt at Best Video Performance Space on Sunday, Feb. 2. The show starts at 6:30 PM and the Cathy Kreger and Caroline Doctorow Duo opens. Advance tickets are $20 and tickets the day of the show are $25.

If it were the intention of the creator or creators of this universe to perfectly blend together the night sky with moon and stars, it might have been their intention as well to deliver Claudia Schmidt as their messenger of reminder. To say that Schmidt is simply a performer with a talent to entertain would be a miscarriage of understatement. Schmidt takes her audiences into her world as easily as the child who discovers the endless universes that exist in a cardboard box.

From lying on sandy beaches under an endless barrage of northern lights, to the expected anguish and frustration of spinning tires on cars stuck deep in snow, from the age-old struggle of change between adolescence and adulthood to the observation of sheer idiocy, she leaves it to the imagination of her audience to conjure their own images of her storytelling and song. No interpretation of a Claudia Schmidt song or story is wrong-she invites audiences to tie their associations to her style.

Schmidt weaves her way through her concert in much the same manner as a jester. Interwoven anecdotes, revealing her past and present, bring people to expect a relationship between themselves and memories driven deep with the passage of time. The concert is an endless display of self-realization through humor and longing, leaving audience members yearning to become an integral part of her world.
Having performed on stages across the country, Schmidt has developed the ability to remain fresh. She enjoys her talent to entertain as much as the audience enjoys being entertained.

Long-time veterans of the acoustic music scene, Cathy Kreger and Caroline Doctorow join forces to perform a seasoned set of folk. Cathy’s powerhouse blues-style vocals blends beautifully with Caroline’s delicate, more sorrow-filled soprano. Both women are excellent guitar players and can really deliver any song they choose to perform.

Armed with only an acoustic guitar and a voice as clear as cool water, Cathy Kreger delivers more pure music per minute than a bevy of roadhouse rockers. Her irresistible voice and guitar playing has earned her a place on stage opening for world-class acts, including: Bonnie Raitt, David Bromberg, The Band, Patty Larkin, Maria Muldaur, Taj Mahal and Aztec Two-Step and many others. Her musical style is a unique combination of adult contemporary and old blues, with an alternative folk flair.

Singer-songwriter Caroline Doctorow has been called a great champion of American folk music. Her most recent album, Dreaming in Vinyl, reached #2 on the national folk radio airplay charts. She has opened for The Band, Alison Krauss, and Tim O’Brien, among others. Her songs and her voice have been heard on soundtracks on the large and small screen. She is the daughter of the late world-renowned author E.L. Doctorow.

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Music: Sid & Sonia, Gregory Frost play Best Video Sat., Feb. 1, at 7:30 PM

Sid & Sonia and Gregory Frost play Best Video Performance Space Sat., Feb. 1. The show starts at 7:30 PM and the cover is a sliding scale of $5-10 (pay what you can in that range).

Sid & Sonia blend Sonia’s sweetly powerful voice and unique styling and Sid’s musical versatility (on electric and acoustic guitar, harmonica, and piano). Their shows feature an eclectic selection of rock, folk, country, jazzy, gospel-tinged, and bluesy songs from then and now, arranged in often original and always distinctive ways. Boston-based, join them at one of their infrequent Connecticut performances.

Gregory Frost is a multi-talented musician and multi-media artist, prolific songwriter, longtime leader of the innovative bands Ghost Radio and Ice Brothers, and architect of two legendary Beatles shows at Sacred Heart University.

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Children’s music: Robert Messore returns Sat., Feb. 1, at 10:30 AM

Robert Messore brings his Toddler Tunes kids’ music show to Best Video Film & Cultural Center Saturday, June 1. The event starts at 10:30 AM.

There’s a suggested donation of $5-10 per family but nobody will be turned away for lack of funds.

Robert Messore puts on a high-energy sing-and-dance-along program for young children and their parents. Voted “Best Entertainer for Toddlers” in the 2011 Kidhaven.com readers poll, Messore’s public “Toddler Tunes” program at St. John’s Episcopal Church in New Haven is the place to be every week! The songs are a mix of the classics and some newer songs that folks love. He recognizes that these programs are a place for parents to get together as much as anything, so he encourages folks with newborns through 6-yr-old children to attend.

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Music: Cimiotti, Trevor Babb perform Fri., Jan. 31, at 8 PM

Guitarist Trevor Babb and ambient singer-songwriter Cimiotti play sets at Best Video Performance Space on Friday, Jan. 31. The show starts at 8 PM and the cover is a $5-10 sliding scale (pay what you can in that range).

Cimiotti (chim-e-ought-e) is the ambient singer-songwriter project of Paul Collins. Since 2014, Cimiotti has been releasing small run experimental/ambient cassette tapes through his label, Cimiotti Recordings. The label has provided him and other like minded artist with an outlet for their more intimate experimental material.

With “Va Piano,” Cimiotti’s nuanced take on Ambient music is on full display. While most ambient music strives to achieve a state of bliss, Cimiotti uses it as a vehicle to explore more conflicted states of being.

Recorded in Southern Italy, and Jackson Heights, NY, “Va Piano” is varied in its musical approaches. From solo electric guitar work, to immersive synthesizer tapestries, to narcotic ballads, Cimiotti’s “Va Piano” is a record for the ambient listener who still wants to turn on Townes Van Zandt and have a good cry.

American guitarist/composer, Trevor Babb, is a versatile and adventurous musician based in New Haven, CT, primarily devoted to music by living composers. He has collaborated with the New Hampshire Music Festival Orchestra, Hartford Independent Chamber Orchestra, Caution Tape Sound Collective (Toronto), New England Chamber Players (Boston), Black House Collective (California), and Aeon Ensemble (New York City).

A passionate advocate of contemporary music, Trevor has given dozens of premiere performances of works by established and emerging composers. His debut recording on Innova Recordings, Warmth, features several premiere recordings of works by emerging composers for multiple electric guitars. Babb studied at the Eastman School of Music (BM), Yale School of Music (MM, MMA, DMA), and the Haute École de Musique de Genève in Geneva, Switzerland under the support of a Fulbright Scholarship. He is an Adjunct Artist Instructor at Vassar College.

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Music: The Black Lodge Quartet plays Thurs., Jan. 30

Black Lodge Quartet plays Best Video Performance Space on Thursday, Jan. 30. The show starts at 8 PM and the cover is $10.

Black Lodge Quartet is a bluesy, jazzy, loungey rock band from Connecticut. Singer Lilly’s vocals range from sultry jazz club chanteuse to powerful blues/rock diva. Refined retro guitar, upright bass and jazzy drums provide the instrumental backdrop for this fun, surprising and sophisticated combo.

The seeds for Black Lodge Quartet were sown when Dan Surkis, founder and guitarist of surf instrumental band The Clams, was looking for a new challenge. One night he sat down with British blues legend Tim Elliot at a holiday party. Well into the deep musical dialog Tim said, of his daughter, “You know Lilly’s a great singer.” “Really!?” Dan replied nearly manifesting an illuminated light bulb over his head. Now Dan had met Lilly before, but knew the quiet and secretive Brit only as an artist. He had no idea she was also a singer. A patient but persistent string of offers to “try a couple of songs” with the band finally paid off. And she agreed to a one-off show as a guest vocalist with the Clams. By the time she finished belting out the first phrase of Blues favorite “Stormy Monday,” Dan knew he had found the challenge he was seeking.

That “one-off show” became Black Lodge Quartet. The Clams years of gigging and recording experience along with a healthy obsession for sound quality, allowed the group to quickly arrive at a sound complementary to Lilly’s powerful voice. The Line-up is completed by John Krawczyk who brings the depth with his five string fretless upright electric bass. And Paul Krampitz, a jazz/big band drummer who joined in late 2017, whose style adds an authentic jazz element that pulls together their unique sound. A sound that is part 30’s night club and part 60s house party.

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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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