UPDATE 11/30: POSTPONED! Mark Schenker continues “How to Read a Film” series on screwball comedies with “Ball of Fire” on Sun., Dec. 1, at 2 PM

UPDATE: Due to the concerning weather reports, this Sunday’s scheduled How to Read a Film event with Mark Schenker is being postponed. We will announce the rescheduled date as soon as we can. (Hopefully next weekend with the final lecture/film shifted to 12/15.)

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.

The third lecture with film in this series will be on Sun., Dec. 1. The series winds up on Dec. 8. Admission to each lecture is $7. The Dec. 1 movie is “Ball of Fire” from 1941, starring Barbara Stanwyck. (The series began with the 1934 “It Happened One Night” on Nov. 10; the second film was “The Awful Truth.”.)

Dec 1, 2 PM: Ball of Fire (1941)

Dec 8, 2 PM: Some Like It Hot (1959)

From Bosley Crowther’s rave 1942 New York Times review:

According to legend, Samuel Goldwyn has made some beautiful lapsi linguae in his time and has done things with the King’s English that stand as a monument to his name. Maybe. But still Mr. Goldwyn can’t be too touchy on that score, for now he has produced a picture which deliberately kicks the language around in a manner so colorful and lively that you can almost sense his tongue stuck in his cheek. “Ball of Fire” is the title of this wholly ingratiating lark, and so pleasant is its spoofing of the professional pose, so comprehensive is its handling of the modern vernacular and so altogether winning are Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck in it that it had the customers jumping with enjoyment at the Music Hall yesterday.

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Music: Thimble Islands Saxophone Quartet plays Sat., Nov. 30

The Thimble Islands Saxophone Quartet plays Best Video Performance Space this Saturday, Nov. 30. The show starts at 8 PM and the cover is $10.

The Thimble Islands Saxophone Quartet features music from Baroque to Contemporary, including music from the Jazz, Broadway, Rock and Popular idioms. This eclectic repertoire includes works from the chamber music, symphonic, choral and vocal traditions.

Frank Vasi, tenor saxophonist, is an award winning composer and the founder of the Thimble Islands Saxophone Quartet. He graduated from the Mannes College of Music in NYC where he received a BM in Performance and Education, studying saxophone and clarinet with Joseph Allard and Frank Socolow and composition with Fred Werle and David Loeb. As a New York freelance musician and teacher in the late 70’s and 80’s, Frank also performed with his own jazz ensemble, The Frank Vasi Quartet and as a side man with such jazz greats as Benny Goodman, Doc Cheatum and Joe Jones.

Tim Moran, soprano saxophone,is widely acclaimed as an innovative jazz musician on saxophone, flute, and clarinet. He has performed in Europe, Japan and throughout the United States and Canada. In collaboration with percussionist Tony Vacca, he has released 5 CD’s, including “Dance Beneath the Diamond Sky” on Columbia Records. He has backed up such artists as Ella Fitzgerald and Gerry Mulligan. He keeps very busy in pit orchestras for the national touring companies of Broadway musicals.

Baritone saxophonist Skyler Hagner is a graduate of Temple University with a Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Performance. While at Temple he studied under Ben Schachter, Tim Warfield, and Norman David. Under Dr. David’s influence, Skyler began composing and arranging. Passion for composing lead Skyler to score the 2015 production of the play “For Colored Girls” in Philadelphia, a series of works for jazz ensemble with a speaker, as well as the creation of the Skyler Hagner Quintet and Octet. Skyler is currently an adjunct professor of woodwinds at the University of New Haven and maintains a busy performance schedule.

Will Cleary , alto saxophone, hails from Houston, Texas, where he began his jazz studies at the Summer Jazz Workshop and Houston’s High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. He then obtained his Bachelor of Music degree at the Oberlin Conservatory, studying with Gary Bartz, Robin Eubanks, and Dan Wall. He received his Master of Music degree in 2010 from the Eastman School of Music under the tutelage of Walt Weiskopf and Bill Dobbins, and was the recipient of the Raymond and Maxine Schirmer Prize in Jazz Performance. Mr. Cleary has performed with Slide Hampton, Chuck Mangione, Conrad Herwig, Marvin Stamm, Marcus Belgrave, Charles McPherson, Kim Waters, Bob Sneider, Dave Glasser, and Pat LaBarbera.

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Music: Nate Trier, Sarah LeMieux, Nahadoth (Adam Matlock) perform Fri., Nov. 29, 7:30 PM

Solo musicians Nate Trier, Sarah LeMieux, and Nahadoth (Adam Matlock) play Best Video Performance Space Friday, Nov. 29. The show starts at 7:30 PM and the cover is a sliding scale of $5-10 (pay what you can in that range).

Nate Trier.

Dubbed a “Rosetta Stone” by the New Haven Independent for making atonal music accessible, Nate Trier is a composer, improviser, and recording artist who creates lyrical melodies with piano and accordion that alight on churning soundscapes of buzzes, hums, and crackling static. French new-music website L’Autre Musique featured his approach to music notation as an exemplar of “new forms of writing sound and music distant from the traditional Western scoring.” The 48th International Summer Course for New Music in Darmstadt distributed a recording of his music to participants. Trier also curated and performed 15 one-minute graphic scores as part of New York City-based Composer’s Voice “Fifteen Minutes of Fame” series.

Trier unifies his disparate influences in jazz improvisation, classical counterpoint, and noise music into a style of music that begins with a conceptual motive and unfolds out into a complete piece. At times it may remind the listener of Erik Satie, spectralism, and ‘90’s industrial hip-hop. Ultimately, Trier’s music embodies the spirit of improvisation within a framework free of tonality and, at times, pitch.

Sarah LeMieux.

Sarah LeMieux grew up making music, with a mom who studied and taught French folk and classical guitar, a dad who played the blues, and a little brother who kept everyone awake with the drums. Her work in New York City as a session vocalist and guitarist, in studios and on stages, created many opportunities to interpret, create and absorb a broad spectrum of music, and inspired her to create and perform original work.

Sarah earned her MFA in Music Composition at Vermont College of Fine Arts, an experience which greatly enriched her musical palette, and led to new explorations in electroacoustic and soundscape music. Sarah’s compositions and performances have graced the stages of the National Women in Blues Festival, the International Festival of Arts and Ideas, Infinity Hall, and International Women Arts (SWAN) Day Festivals, as well as radio stations from Australia to Japan. Sarah’s jazz quintet has won “Best Jazz” three times at the Connecticut Music Awards, and Album of the Year for 2015. She couldn’t do any of it without her wonderful husband and amazing kids.

Adam Matlock aka Nahadoth.

Adam Matlock works as an accordionist, composer, vocalist, and educator living and working in New Haven, CT. Matlock writes songs under the name An Historic, building narratives accompanied by musical inspirations from Balkan music and Klezmer, Soul, and various strains of rock. Under the name Nahadoth, Matlock performs ethereal keyboard music in a style known as dungeon synth, creating images inspired by history and fantasy, filtered through a dreamlike haze. He also composes under his own name, most notably the opera Red Giant(2014) for 6 piece ensemble and three singers, and Earthseed Songs (2012) for voice and two instrumentalists.

Matlock also began to expand his role as a performer in 2009, playing original music and interpretations with projects including An Historic, Broadcloth, Gzara, and Dr. Caterwaul’s Cadre of Clairvoyant Claptraps. He has recorded, performed, or improvised with artists including Anthony Braxton, Mario Pavone, Ceschi, Vinny Golia, Sigh, and Clara Engel, and works as a group and private teacher in the New Haven area.

Click here for the complete list of upcoming events.

Music: Irish/Celtic music jam takes place Sun., Nov. 24, 2-4 PM

Best Video Performance Space hosts a monthly acoustic Irish music jam. The November jam takes place on Sunday, Nov. 24, from 2-4 PM. The jam, organized by musicians Jim & Willow Sirch, takes place on the third Sunday of each month (unless it needs to be rescheduled due to other Best Video Film & Cultural Center programming, as happened this month).

As with our bluegrass jams, feel free to come and join in or just sit and listen.

Click here for the complete list of upcoming events.

Music: Washboard Slim & The Bluelights play Sat., Nov. 23, at 7:30 PM, with special guest diva Mimi Lines

Washboard Slim & The Blue Lights.

Washboard Slim & The Bluelights play Best Video Performance Space on Saturday, Nov. 23. The show starts at 7:30 PM and the cover is $10. They will be joined by special guest diva Mimi Lines.

After 40 years of playing together, Washboard Slim and the Bluelights has evolved into one of the country’s most versatile and original of jug bands.

Incorporating pure Americana instruments like tub bass, washboard, jug, banjo, harmonica, and fiddle, adding drums and powerful vocal harmonies, this band rocks sold-out concerts, dance halls and family shows. Playing their own compositions as well as original arrangements of traditional gospel and blues tunes, their music is by turns playful and haunted. It’s no wonder legendary blues/folk artist, Eric Von Schmidt described Washboard Slim and the Bluelights as “traditional music on overdrive.”

The members of Washboard Slim & the Blue Lights are Peter Menta (aka Washboard Slim, drums, harmonica, kazoo, washboard, vocals), Brooks Barnett (accordion, banjo, drums, guitar, mandolin, piano, vocals), Howie Horn (banjo, jug, washtub bass, vocals), Mat Kastner (banjo, guitar, National steel guitar), Johnny Pendergast (guitar, fiddle, mandolin, vocals),and Lauren Agnelli (guitar, ukelele, kazoo, vocals).

Click here for the complete list of upcoming events.

Best Video Film & Cultural Center hosts Anniversary Open House & Fundraiser Sat., Nov. 16

On Saturday, November 16, 2019, Best Video Film & Cultural Center (BVFCC), celebrating its fourth anniversary as a nonprofit, will host its Fall Open House & “Fun”draising Extravaganza—a full day of festivity, pageantry, and fun for all ages. If you attended last year’s Open House, you know you’re in for a treat.

Everybody is welcome to come and enjoy what Best Video has to offer that day. It is our main fall fundraiser—our main spring fundraiser is the online Great Give in May—and we count on it. There is no set donation amount but we encourage all to contribute whatever they can—and/or become a Best Video Film & Cultural Center member—to keep BVFCC open and running.

There will be a table run by staff and Best Video Board members to meet you, sign up new members, renew memberships and receive donations.

BVFCC, has been running the former Best Video as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization since November, 2015. The organization’s mission is to “bring film, music and people together.” BVFCC curates an archive of over 30,000 titles assembled by original owner Hank Paper; presents regular music, film-related and literary events; and maintains a welcoming space for the community.

We invite you to our celebration on November 16. Please join us if you can, help put the “fun” in “fun”draiser! And remember, we love seeing you all each and every day. And each day in November is a day that you can donate. Come in and see us. Please help to make our fundraising efforts a success. You always have! We thank you wholeheartedly.

If you can’t make it on Saturday, you can still donate online and/or become a member online!


9 AM-Noon: Best Video Kids’ Music & Cartoon PJ Party

9:30 AM (or so) • Cartoons chosen by Best Video staffer Michael Wheatley & Dave Schmidt

10:30 AM • Music by Val McKee & Robert Messore

Noon • Prizes given out to winners of our second Student Art Show and display of all the entries

Noon-2 PM • The Caseus Cheese Truck at Best Video

1 PM • Open Mic for Kids 18 and younger

1-4 PM • Best Cookie Contest: Almost 20 bakers compete to see who bakes the “Best Cookie,” with two winners chosen by a poll of attendees! (Two great gift certificate prizes)

2 PM • Movie Trivia: BVFCC staffer Rob Harmon leads a 20-question preview of a new, in-the-works monthly trivia event ($50 BVFCC gift certificate prize)

3 PM • Music by The Blind Mice, a trio featuring members of the Hamden High School Jazz Combo.

4 PM (or so) • Short Films from 48 Hour Film Project New Haven

5-7 PM • Taqueria Cinco food truck at Best Video, free beer from Black Hog Brewing, Inc. (1 per attendee over 21 while supplies last)

5 PM • Rob Harmon’s “Secret Cinema”

5:30 (or so) • Short Films from 48 Hour Film Project New Haven

6 PM • Music by Bronson Rock (Rock/Soul/R&B)

7 PM (or so) • Short Films from 48 Hour Film Project New Haven

8:30 PM • Music by Thabisa (Afro-Soul)


Music: Tariku—inheritors of Mandingo Ambassadors local mantle—play West African music Fri., Nov. 22

Tariku—which includes members of The Mandingo Ambassadors, including guitarist Mamady Kouyate and vocalist Aaron Greenberg—play Best Video Performance Space Friday, Nov. 22. The show starts at 8 PM and the cover is $15.

The music of Tariku is driven by the graceful and ebullient interlocking polyrhythms for which West African music has become famous. This is the region musicologists credit with the roots of jazz, blues, funk, and hip hop, and that sonic DNA is clearly audible in the playing of percussionists Mangue Sylla and Matt Dean, and bassist Frank Brocklehurst. Coloring inside these percussive lines are the smooth, elegantly filigreed guitar lines of lead guitarist, Mamady “Jelike” Kouyate Also leader of The Mandingo Ambassadors), and the swirling yet unerringly precise cascades of young flute phenom Dylan McDonnell. Rounding out the melodic mix, Arouna Kouyate doubles on the kora- a 21 string calabash harp with a tone like the beautiful lovechild of a lute and an oud- and the vocals, whose flavor to Western ears might fall somewhere between Flamenco and the blues.

Our influences range from the almost operatic style of classical Mandè virtuosos like Kouyate Sory Kandia and Toumani Diabate, to the golden age West African jazz bands like Balla et Ses Balladins and Bembeya Jazz National. The result is a surprisingly versatile and accessible sound which can be both mild and sweet enough to serve as a unique alternative to a jazz combo or string quartet, or bold and lively enough to drive people onto the dance floor.

In Maninka, the language of the former Mandén Empire (c.1230-c.1630) “Tariku” means “chronicle”. It refers to the treasure trove of musical literature kept these 800 years by a hereditary caste of bards called the jelilu (singular, jeli).

At the same time that epics like The Song of Roland and The Poem of the Cid were being sung in the castles of medieval Europe, the Mandén tariku or “chronicles of Mandén” were being performed in the courts of medieval West Africa. These epics are rich with high adventure, great battles, palace intrigues, cunning sorceresses, stalwart warriors, and august kings. Basically, imagine Game of Thrones, but with the cast of Black Panther, and you’re halfway there.

Our musical and historical director, El Hajj Mamady “Jelike” Kouyate, holds the eminent position of Jeli Kuntigi (literally “Headmaster”) of the Society of Mandén Jelilu of the Americas. As the foremost authority in this hemisphere on his people’s musico-historical tradition, he has charged us with the task (no pressure) of elevating and popularizing this tragically underappreciated art form here in the west. In the spirit of this, we strive to present these timeless pieces in a way that will be at once accessible and entertaining for American listeners, and also painstakingly faithful to the tradition. The result is a performance that falls somewhere between classical and jazz, between storytelling and song, between ancient and modern.

Click here for the complete list of upcoming events.

Music: Robert Messore organizes Best Beatles Sing-along for Thurs., Nov. 21, at 7:30 PM

Robert Messore presents an evening of Beatles sing-alongs at Best Video Performance Space on Thursday, Nov. 21. The show starts at 7:30 PM and admission is a suggested $10-20 donation.

Messore organized the show to honor the memory of Hamden resident Steve Weston, who loved The Beatles. Steve died of ALS in July and proceeds from the evening will go to the ALS Association. Songs to be led by Chrissy Gardner, Seth Adam, Pierce Campbell, Hank Hoffman, Paul Bryant Hudson, and Robert Messore.

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).

Currently, Pierce Campbell plays a variety of music which showcase his versatility. He performs solo singing and playing original and Celtic folk, American pop and Jazz classics. He performs Irish and original Celtic folk with The Kerry Boys, traditional Jazz with The Funky Butt Jazz Band, vocal Jazz classics and originals with The Pierce Campbell Jazz Duo/Trio and pop rock classics with 60’s Satisfaction. During the day, he entertains seniors at venues throughout CT. Pierce has been playing guitar and singing most of his life, receiving high praise for his dazzling guitar work, superb songwriting, and powerful vocals.

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.

Paul Bryant Hudson has been tearing up the stages of Cafe Nine, Pacific Standard Tavern, and other places all over town for a few years now. With a stunning voice and serious keyboard chops, he fronts a seriously tight band with a style of Soul Music that pays homage to the past and feels up to the minute.

Singer/songwriter Seth Adam writes compelling, genuine songs with honest lyrics. The alt-country, Americana rocker draws comparisons to Counting Crows, Tom Petty, Ryan Adams, and Jason Isbell. 2016 was a turning point in his career as he wrote and recorded songs out of a hobbled together, home studio space. Playing all of the instruments, engineering, producing, and everything else-ing on his own resulted in an EP called East Rock. The experience inspired him to continue to do much of the same for the foreseeable future, foregoing using the formal recording studios.

Hank Hoffman, executive director of Best Video Film & Cultural Center, has led the psychedelic rock band Happy Ending since 1983. In 1974, Hank passed on the opportunity to go to an Elton John concert Thanksgiving evening, thereby missing John Lennon’s last-ever live performance.

As to The Beatles, you know who they are.

Click here for the complete list of upcoming events.

Music: California art rock musician Eamon Fogarty, Drifting North play Wed., Nov. 20

Eamon Fogarty.

California-based musician and songwriter Eamon Fogarty plays Best Video Performance Space Wednesday, Nov. 20. Drifting North, an off-shot of No Line North, will open.

The show starts at 8 PM and the cover is a sliding scale of $5-10 (pay what you can in that range).

Eamon Fogarty is a singer, composer, and multi-instrumentalist currently based in Santa Barbara CA.

The music blog Aquarium Drunkard featured Fogarty’s cover of Chris Bell’s “I Am the Cosmos” this past August. About Fogarty’s most recent record, “Blue Values,” they wrote:

It’s a remarkable piece of art-pop, exhibiting the low slung ease of Tim Buckley’s jazz-rock, the shambolic grace of Beck, the progressive grandeur of Scott Walker, and the mystic yearning of Talk Talk. Produced and mixed by Chris Schlarb of Psychic Temple, the album finds Fogarty joined by a cast of players contributing woodwinds, percussion, and vibraphone. It’s an album reflective of an ever-changing landscape, a set of songs emboldened by ambiguity.

Drifting North debuts as an evolutionary off-shoot of No Line North. The group features Jon Schlesinger, Michael Kiefer, Brian Slattery, and Richard Brown. Drifting North sets their compass for the woozy boundary between folky Americana and the frontiers of psychedelic inner space.

Click here for the complete list of upcoming events.

Spring Glen School students present poetry slam at Best Video Wed., and Thurs., Nov. 20 & 21, 4:30-5:30 PM

Sixth grade students from Spring Glen Elementary will present a Poetry SLAM Wednesday and Thursday, Nov.  20 and 21, from 4:30-5:30 PM at Best Video Film & Cultural Center.

Organized by teacher Mary Nelson, students have written powerful poetry answering the question “What would you like to change in the world?” A dozen or so different poets will perform each afternoon.

*Note that content may not be appropriate for young children

Click here for the complete list of upcoming events.