Second Wednesday Open Mic, hosted by Karen Ponzio, returns Wed., Dec. 11, at 7 PM

Musicians! Comedians! Poets! Magicians! Spoken word artists! The Second Wednesday Open Mic takes place Wednesday, Dec. 11, 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: GuitarTownCT presents Evan Murphy Sun., Dec. 8, at 7 PM; Sofia Chiarandini opens

Evan Murphy plays Best Video Performance Space on Sunday, Dec. 8. Fiddler Sofia Chiarandini opens. The show starts at 7 PM and advance tickets are available from for $25.
Evan Murphy, known best for his work as singer/guitarist and a founding member of the groundbreaking bluegrass group Mile Twelve, is touring his debut solo project in the northeast. His new music showcases his songwriting in a new and raw way, focusing on deeply personal topics such as religion, home and family. Evan is backed by Nate Sabat on bass and Sean Trischka on drums. Not bluegrass, but in the tradition of singer/songwriters from that genre.
Sofía Chiarandini is a musician based out of New England. She has been playing violin since age five, and at age fourteen decided to dive into the world of bluegrass. Sofía began studying with Grammy award winning fiddle and dobro player and notable author Stacy Phillips, who was her mentor and main source of inspiration in the non-classical world. As a teenager she studied voice with jazz vocalist Sarah Tolar, and classical violin with Juliet Kurtzman. Sofía has been playing double bass since she was nine, and has studied with Domenick Fiore, who inspired Sofía to diversify and study jazz as well.

Mark Schenker “How to Read a Film” explores “Some Like It Hot” Sun., Dec. 8, at 2 PM

In this ninth installment of his series “How to Read A Film,” Mark Schenker, Dean of Academic Affairs of Yale College, turns to screwball comedies. Like the gangster movie, the Western and the Hollywood musical, the genre of screwball comedy films originated in the United States. The new satirical spin (hence “screwball”) on romantic comedy stressed witty dialogue and zaniness over sentimental love, and placed big name stars in odd situations. As with gangster movies, horror films and lavish musicals, the genre found a ready audience with Depression-era filmgoers who were eager for escapist fare.

Because of the postponement due to snow of “Ball of Fire,” scheduled for Dec. 1, the remaining schedule has been rearranged as follows: What would have been the final lecture on “Some Like It Hot” will take place as planned on Sun., Dec. 8, at 2 PM. “Ball of Fire” has been rescheduled to Sun., Dec. 15, but at 1 PM rather than 2 PM.

Director Billy Wilder’s 1959 “Some Like It Hot” stars Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, and Jack Lemmon. Roger Ebert described “Some Like It Hot” as “one of the enduring treasures of the movies, a film of inspiration and meticulous craft, a movie that’s about nothing but sex and yet pretends it’s about crime and greed.”

From A.H. Weiler’s 1959 New York Times review:

There should be no doubt this morning that the members of the happily irreverent film troupe that made “Some Like It Hot” have done something constructive about the old wheeze that begins, “Who was that lady I saw you with?” For, in fashioning this overlong, occasionally labored but often outrageously funny series of variations on an ancient gag, they have come up with a rare, rib-tickling lampoon that should keep them, the customers and the management … chortling with glee.

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Comedy: Reel Life, hosted by Stosh Mikita, Sat., Dec. 7, at 8 PM

Best Video Film & Cultural Center presents the return of Reel Life—A Stand-Up Comedy Show on Saturday, Oct. 26. 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.

Also on the bill are Dame FK, Pratima Singh, Dan Rice, and Penina Beede.

Dame FK is an American contemporary stand up comic born and raised in connecticut. His esoteric humor and lightning sharp wit have been delighting crowds for better part of the last five years. Garnering a red hot buzz in new york city for his pop up style performances he has even opened up on tour for Hannibal Buresss (Comedy Camisado, Netflix) who quickly took to the young comedian, fostering what some believe may be the next great American stand up.

Pratima Singh is a fellow at Hartford Youth Scholars, studying at UConn to be a middle school English teacher, the most self-destructive of all career choices. In her spare time, she grooms middle-aged ladies and dogs.

Dan Rice is an editor and contributor at the popular satire site The Hard Times. He has made Best Video Order Dvd’s for him twice now, because he is mommy’s special boy.

Penina Beede is a writer and comedian based in Hartford, CT. Penina freelances for The Hartford Courant and is the host of the podcast “25 for 25.” She has worked for Connecticut Public Radio and NPR’s “Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me!” Currently a senior at University of Connecticut, Penina performs stand-up comedy across the northeaster United States. Using a deadpan style, she weaves short jokes into her story-driven comedy about politics, family, and womanhood. In her spare time, you can find Penina thinking up the best puns in the Tri-state area.

Click here for the complete list of upcoming events.


Children’s Music: Val McKee performs Sat., Dec. 7, 10:30 AM

Val McKee plays music for kids at Best Video Film & Cultural Center on Saturday morning, Dec. 7, 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.

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Music: Acoustic folk from The Steve Nystrup Trio, Hugh Blumenfeld Trio Fri., Dec. 6, at 7:30 PM

The Steve Nystrup Trio and the Hugh Blumenfeld Trio play Best Video Performance Space Friday, Dec. 6. The show starts at 7:30 PM and the cover is $10.

Steve Nystrup Trio is a true family affair. Steve on guitar and vocals, his son Aaron on bass guitar and wife Maureen Wasik on lead vocals “blend perfectly to make transcendent and uplifting music. Whatever they play becomes their own (not to mention their own compositions!).” The band plays a colorful mix of folk, blues, Americana and popular songs. The harmonies are tight and the interplay between father and son on guitar and bass is always compelling!

Steve is an award winning guitarist, composer and educator. His music has been featured on several “Folk Next Door” CD”s from WWUH and on many CT Classical Guitar Society recordings. Maureen has been singing all her life and is well know to audiences in NYC and along the CT shore where she has performed as a member of Acoustic Exile, Freefall, and Step Edna. Aaron has been playing bass guitar with his dad since he was 14 years old and appears on several recordings with him. He lives in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, NY and is a member of the very popular band Everest Cale.

Hugh Blumenfeld has been called “a songwriter’s songwriter,” ranging from romantic ballads to biting satire. The Boston Globe described his work as “words and music full of passion and poetry” while DJ/columnist Ed McKeon calls him “as sharp a political and social satirist as any songwriter writing today.”

Hugh has performed across the U.S. and abroad, with tours in Europe and Israel. He opened the Kerrville Folk Festival in 2000 and closed the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival with Ani DiFranco in 1996. He has played house concerts and coffeehouses as well as major clubs and theatres including NYC’s legendary Bottom Line, D.C.’s Birchmere, Philly’s Theatre of Living Arts, and the Kennedy Performance Center’s Millenium Stage series.

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Music: Semaphora, Dr. Caterwaul’s Cadre of Clairvoyant Claptraps play Thurs., Dec. 5, 7:30 PM


Semaphora and Dr. Caterwaul’s Cadre of Clairvoyant Claptraps play Best Video Performance Space Thursday, Dec. 5, at 7:30 PM. 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.

Dr. Caterwaul’s Cadre of Clairvoyant Claptraps plays music from around the world and uses it as a launching pad for improvisations that never lose their sense of groove—whether it’s Colombian cumbias, Ethiopian jazz, Romanian horas, Argentinian tangos, or traditional music from the United States.

Based in New Haven, CT, the five-piece—Chris Cretella on guitar, Adam Matlock on accordion and vocals, Michael Paolucci on drums, Brian Slattery on violin, banjo, trombone and vocals, and Mike Tepper on bass—has opened for Xenia Rubinos, the Lost Bayou Ramblers, and the Krar Collective (from Ethiopia). Apart, they have toured the country and ventured into Europe, performing everything from Appalachian fiddle to funk and reggae to experimental new music. Together, they have put on evenings of songs by Kurt Weill and Ennio Morricone and performed back-to-back sold-out sets of music from Twin Peaks. All along, they work up original material by Matlock under his own songwriting project, An Historic.

Always curious, always ready to try new music, Dr. Caterwaul’s Cadre of Clairvoyant Claptraps moves from genre to genre with a style that’s all its own.

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Music: On the Trail returns to play bluegrass Wed., Dec. 5, at 7:30 PM

On the Trail plays Best Video Performance Space on Wednesday, Dec. 4. The show starts at 8 PM and the cover is $10.

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 features Austin Scelzo (fiddle and vocals), Tom Polizzi (mandolin and vocals), Charlie Widmer (guitar and vocals), and Chet Duke (banjo).

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Music: GuitarTownCT Sunday bluegrass jam for December instead on Tues., Dec. 3, at 5:30 PM

The “First Sunday” Hamden Bluegrass Jam—hosted by GuitarTown CT Productions instead takes place Tuesday, Dec. 3, at 5:30 PM. It was rescheduled from its usual first Sunday afternoon to accommodate Mark Schenker’s How to Read a Film series on screwball comedies.

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.

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Music: Brazilian choro music from Roda Trip Mon., Dec. 2

New group Roda Trip plays Best Video Performance Space Monday, Dec. 2, at 8 PM. The cover is a sliding scale of $5-10 (pay what you can in that range).

Choro is a style of instrumental music from Rio de Janeiro that originated in the the late 19th century. It fuses syncopated African rhythms with European harmony and is considered by many to the the first authentically Brazilian style of music. Choro ensembles vary in their instrumentation and the music consists of virtuosic melodic lines that are both challenging and incredibly fun to play.

A gathering of musicians to play choro is called a “roda de choro,” thus our group’s name, Roda Trip, featuring Will Minter (accordion), Joe Murfin (pandeiro/cavaquinho), David Sasso (mandolin/mandocello/guitar), and Naomi Senzer (flute/clarinet).

Click here for the complete list of upcoming events.