Music: Zoo Front plays Thurs., Apr. 18, with special guest Mara & the Dead Batteries

Indie rock group Zoo Front plays Best Video Performance Space on Thursday, Apr. 18. Mara & The Dead Batteries will be a special guest on some songs.  The show starts at 8 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).

Laura from Mara & The Dead Batteries will be sitting in on cello on a couple of the songs.

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Music: DeCoster, Karen Hogg perform Wed., Apr. 17

Singer-songwriter DeCoster and eclectic acoustic performer Karen Hogg play Best Video Performance Space on Wednesday, Apr. 17. The show starts at 8 PM and the cover is $10.

DECOSTER is the musical project of singer/songwriter Paul DeCoster. Based in Brooklyn, NY, he combines the elements of adult contemporary pop from Bryan Adams to Shawn Mendes with elements of progressive rock like Rush. His writing style, much like the themes of his upcoming album “Universe”, covers worlds beyond and within. He performs frequently in the Northeast with percussionist Rich Kulsar who adds elements of world beat to the mix.

Multi-instrumentalist Karen Hogg is a prolific performer, author, and educator. Her influences are wide-ranging with a foundation in American Roots music. One might hear anything from Norman Blake to the Beatles to an Iron Maiden song re-imagined as a cowboy tune during her sets. A sought-after side-person as a mandolinist and a lead guitarist, Karen plays with several groups, including Flint Ladder. She’ll be taking center stage for this performance at Best Video, playing a rare solo set.

Hogg also has a deep interest in the roots of American music, from a historical, cultural, and musical perspective. In 2015, Karen received her master’s degree in Folk Studies/Folklore from Western Kentucky University. She is currently delving into the catalogue of murder ballads, both as repertoire and cultural signifiers. This research will culminate in a concert on the next International Women’s Day, March 8th, 2020, at First Church in Middletown, titled The Murder Ballad Project: Reframing Songs of Violence. Hogg will be joined by other women performers, exploring what these songs mean in a modern-day context.

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Music: Naomi Sommers & Lisa Bastoni —aka The Gray Sky Girls—play reunion show Sat., Apr. 13

Naomi Sommers and Lisa Bastoni reunite as The Gray Sky Girls for a concert at Best Video Performance Space on Saturday, Apr. 13. The show starts at 8 PM and the cover is $10.

Naomi Sommers and Lisa Bastoni are two accomplished singer-songwriters in the folk/americana genre. As their “slow grass” duo, Gray Sky Girls, Naomi and Lisa play an engaging mix of traditional and original tunes, with sweet harmonies accompanied by guitar, mandolin and banjo.

With roots in bluegrass, the blues, jazz, traditional folk, and old-time country, singer/songwriter Naomi Sommers is committed to the life of an aspiring musician, always more to learn and do! She grew up in a New England home full of music and instruments, and still performs regularly with her parents and brother in the Sommers Rosenthal Family Band.

Since 2002, Naomi has released three solo CDs on her father’s (bluegrass musician and and record producer Phil Rosenthal) independent label, American Melody Records. In 2004 she was a New Folk songwriting finalist at the Kerrville Folk Festival in Texas. In 2006 she and Lisa Bastoni released a mesmerizing CD, Gray Sky Girls, with an organic, old time “slowgrass” feel. Two years later, Naomi released an album recorded in Nashville, produced by the acclaimed musician/producer Jim Rooney (John Prine, Iris Dement, Nanci Griffith, Bonnie Raitt). She is thrilled and honored to have worked with many of Nashville’s finest musicians, along with her friends and family to have created this collection of songs called Gentle As The Sun. Most recently in 2016, Naomi and her father and brother (trumpeter/producer Daniel Rosenthal) recorded “Down the Road”, a family trio album featuring re-makes of some trad bluegrass songs, as well as several original songs by Phil, Naomi and Daniel.

Following a ten year break from music, a career change, and two children, Lisa Bastoni has returned with The Wishing Hour (2017). Produced by Grammy-nominated songwriter and producer Felix McTeigue (Anais Mitchell/Lori McKenna), the album debuted as #1 most played on Boston’s WUMB.

In the past year, Lisa has been selected to showcase at the New England Regional Folk Alliance (NERFA) conference, as well as the Falcon Ridge and New Song Music/LEAF Festivals. Her song “Rabbit Hole” was grand prize winner of the Great American Song Contest. She has opened for artists such as Lori McKenna, The Low Anthem, Regina Spektor and Arlo Guthrie. “Americana of the highest order…along the lines of Gretchen Peters or Patty Griffin” (Maverick-UK).

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Music: Guitarist Jim Hurst plays in a GuitarTownCT show Fri., Apr. 12, at 7:30 PM

Guitarist Jim Hurst plays Best Video Performance Space on Friday, Apr. 12. The show starts at 7:30 PM. Advance tickets are $25 and are available through

To listen to Jim Hurst is to be amazed by his tasteful and flawless performances. Perfect timing and tone and his unusual picking style has enchanted guitar players from the novice to his peers. It’s no surprise, then, that his musical mastery began with a musical upbringing paving the way for a winding and varied career path.

After a solid career touring and recording with Country and Bluegrass artists—Holly Dunn, Sara Evans, Trisha Yearwood and Claire Lynch—Jim decided in 2010 to embark on a solo career. Already seasoned with seven recordings, Open Window, Second Son, A Box of Chocolates, Intrepid, Looking Glass, Atlantic Crossing (duet recording w/Roberto Dalla Vecchia), and JHT-1 (from his Jim Hurst Trio), these exhibit his diverse and deft guitar work and soothing vocals. His shows meet with rave reviews as he astounds his audiences with his brilliant playing yet makes people feel right at home with his humble congenial and funny persona. Jim is currently performing solo full time and with his Jim Hurst Trio, both nationally and internationally, as well as teaching at camps and workshops in North America and Europe. Additionally, his highly sought-after talent has led to side projects with other bluegrass greats such as Claire Lynch, and David Grisman.

But his solo show and his Jim Hurst Trio, which allows his personal style and unique creativity to come through in spades, is what keeps his audiences mesmerized.

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Music: Chrissy Gardner & Robert Messore team up to offer acoustic soul Thurs., Apr. 11

Chrissy Gardner and Robert Messore bring their version of acoustic soul to the Best Video Performance Space on Thursday, Apr. 11. The music starts at 8 PM and the cover charge is a sliding scale of $5-10 (pay what you can in that range).

Chrissy Gardner is a singer-songwriter originally from Chicago, IL. Whether from behind a piano, holding a guitar or standing at the front of the stage with mic in hand, she belts out her tunes in a style that is often compared to both classic and contemporary singer/songwriters, but also has real shades of hard rocking Blues and R&B. On stage, Chrissy can effectively convey the depth of meaning in her music with her passionate voice and genuinely sophisticated and romantic piano playing, but when the time comes to get the crowd up and dancing, she can rock as hard as anyone.

Robert Messore (meh-sor’-ee) has been called “Connecticut’s finest fingerstyle guitarist.” He plays beautiful instrumental guitar music and he is noted for composing tuneful pieces that work well as music, and not simply as fancy guitar playing. Robert has been called “the Heart of the New Haven Folk Scene” for his vital and many-faceted contributions as solo performer, side man, recording artist, teacher and concert presenter (working on several concert series and the Connecticut Folk Festival).

When Chrissy Gardner and Robert Messore get together, their performances are full of vulnerability, triumph, and joy. Chrissy effortlessly embodies the spirits of soul, folk and contemporary music through her masterful songwriting and her shape-shifting voice that in one phrase can be as delicate and lovely as Joni Mitchell and in the next express the heart and soul of Janis Joplin. Robert has passionately devoted himself to the guitar for 30+ years and was voted Best Instrumentalist in a New Haven Advocate readers’ poll. Together, Chrissy and Robert make a kind of acoustic soul music that is sheer bliss.

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Second Wednesday Open Mic cycles back around Wed., Apr. 10, at 7 PM

Musicians! Comedians! Poets! Magicians! Spoken word artists! The Second Wednesday Open Mic takes place Wednesday, Apr. 10, 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: The Elm City Ramblers bluegrass ensemble performs Tues., Apr. 9, at 7:30 PM

The Elm City Ramblers, led by Phil Rosenthal, play Best Video Performance Space on Tuesday, Apr. 9. 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.

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Music: GuitarTownCT monthly Sunday afternoon bluegrass jam takes place Sun., Apr. 7, 2-5 PM

The “First Sunday” Hamden Bluegrass Jam—hosted by GuitarTown CT Productions—takes place on Sunday afternoon, Apr. 7, from 2—5 PM in Best Video Performance Space.

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.

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Music: Singer-songwriters Anne Marie Menta, Shellye Valauskas, Lys Guillorn, Kierstin Sieser trade tunes Fri., Apr. 5

The singer-songwriters Anne Marie Menta, Kierstin Sieser, Lys Guillorn, and Shellye Valuaskas trade off songs Friday, Apr. 5, at Best Video Performance Space. The show starts at 8 PM and the cover is a sliding scale of $5-10 (pay what you can in that range).

Anne Marie Menta is a longtime New Haven singer songwriter working on her fourth album. Personal meets universal in her lyrical, catchy, folk/pop/country influenced tunes.

Shellye Valauskas writes meticulously crafted power pop songs that shimmer and shine; think Rasberries/BigStar/Posies/dB’s/Slight R.E.M. Listen to her latest release “History of Panic” and try not to fall in love with it.

Lys Guillorn is a singer songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and discipline-hopping artist from Shelton, CT.She is a stylistic shape shifter, dipping her blue cowboy boots in folk and psych-rock. Her most recent release is the single “Chipped Fingernails.”

Kierstin Sieser is lead vocalist and songwriter from Tiny Ocean, whose music is part dreamy Americana, part strange folk rock and a little psychedelia.

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Music: Django’s Reserve plays gypsy jazz Thurs., Apr. 4

Django’s Reserve plays Best Video Performance Space Thursday, Apr. 4. 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.

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