Music: Zoo Front, Anne Castellano & The Smoke play Thurs., Oct. 17, at 7:30 PM

Zoo Front.

The indie rock bands Zoo Front and Anne Castellano & The Smoke plays Best Video Performance Space on Thursday, Oct. 17. The show starts at 7:30 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).
Anne Castellano and the Smoke was formed in December 2011. The band has released a full-length CD, “Electric”, which came out in 2013, and an EP, “Bridge to Nowhere”, which was released in 2015. The band is currently working as a three-piece, with Anne Castellano on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Vincent Tuckwood on bass and vocals, and Tony Castellano on drums and vocals. They are playing shows and finishing up their second album.

Music: Acoustic songs from Gilead Road Wed., Oct. 16

Gilead Road plays Best Video Performance Space on Wednesday, Oct. 16. The show starts at 8 PM and the cover is a sliding scale of $5-10 (pay what you can in that range).

Gilead Road is an acoustic duo singing original songs sprinkled with contemporary and traditional favorites. Their songs tell stories of personal history and reflect on life in today’s wild world. Lizzy sings and Glenn brings his guitar, voice and songwriting. Together they spark a chemistry that is more than the sum of its parts.

Lizzy grew up singing in her church choir, in glee club and with her mother. Lizzy’s childhood friends, Annie and Barbi, taught her to hold a strong melody line while they sang harmony. They spent hours singing songs from The Judy Collins Songbook. Lizzy traveled to Appalachia in 1975 and was introduced to Hedy West and her glorious old time banjo music. Three children arrived and so did nightly lullabies and lusty singing in the car on road trips. The kids knew all the words to the Nanci Griffith and John Prine albums that were on endless repeat on the car stereo.

Lizzy continued singing in church choirs, and especially delighted in singing with the vibrant gospel choir, Salt and Pepper, and in the AME Zion Church. In 1998, she fulfilled a longtime dream of being in a band and founded the New Haven group, “The Lucky Dogs.” She loves finding solidly written stories to sing and looks at covers as a way to share in the creation of those wonderful songs.

Glenn grew up playing the classical violin and listened to truly horrible British Rock bands that have sunk deep into deserved obscurity. He was a storyteller from a very young age. He delighted his cousins with long rambling bedtime stories and often gave his mother a choice of two explanations of why he was out after curfew, one of which contained the truth. Glenn has played in several local bands, including Jazz Folks and currently plays with the award winning Heather Fay (Best Folk Artist, CT Music Awards 2015/2016) and with The Girls From Ruby Falls (Best Americana Band, CT Music Awards 2016).

Glenn writes songs that tell stories of love, home, and family lore and Lizzy loves to sing them.

Gilead Road has just released their first album. It will be available at CD Baby and through their website, GileadRoad.com. You can also pick up a copy at the Best Video concert on October 16th!

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Music: Hans Bilger, Amber Anchor play Mon., Oct. 14, at 8 PM

Indie folk artist Hans Bilger and Americana duo Amber Anchor play Best Video Performance Space on Monday, Oct. 14. The show starts at 8 PM and the cover is a sliding scale of $5-10 (pay what you can in that range).

Hans Bilger is a bassist, singer, songwriter and composer from Brooklyn, NY. After an early diet of country and bluegrass music provided by his family band, the Charismatic Megafauna, he pursued formal training in improvised and classical music. His mentors include the bassists Greg Cohen (Ornette Coleman, Tom Waits), Samuel Suggs (Concert Artists Guild), Paul Kowert (Punch Brothers), J.A. Granelli (Mr. Lucky), Axel Scherka (Staatskapelle Berlin), Kurt Muroki (Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center), and others.

Bilger moved to Austin, TX in 2016, where he quickly became a sought-after sideman and session bassist. Recent projects include recordings with Eli Greenhoe, Odell Fox, R.O. Shapiro, Jenner Fox, Micah Motenko, and Will Taylor. Last year, he was commissioned to compose the score for Cora Dance’s gifts, a site-specific work choreographed by Shannon Hummel. The work premiered in Brooklyn in January 2019. Meridian, Bilger’s first album as a leader, will be released this September by Good Child Music.

Bilger is also fascinated by the natural world. While studying evolutionary biology at Yale University, he co-authored a study on musical structure in birdsong with the ornithologist Dr. Richard Prum and wrote Aviary, a piece that uses songbird songs as raw material for a series of improvisatory and through-composed movements. Last fall, he joined the labs of Drs. Julia Clarke and Michael Ryan at UT Austin to start a PhD on the evolution of vocal communication in birds, bats and frogs. His scientific work is supported by fellowships from the National Science Foundation, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), and UT Austin. He is currently at work on Austin Menagerie (working title), a series of musical sketches based on Texas fauna.

Bilger currently lives in Berlin, Germany, where he splits his time between writing, performing, and CT-scanning bat larynges at the Museum für Naturkunde.

Hometown Easton-based favorite, Amber Anchor, builds upon the great tradition of American folk. Dan Tressler and Jeff Smith are revered for both their vocal harmonies, and their ability to seamlessly swap between guitar, fiddle, mandolin, and banjo. The duo often performs at the Tressler Barn, a timeless space filled with antique furniture, cozy fires, potluck feasts, and a spirit of camaraderie and authenticity.

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Music: Django’s Reserve swings gypsy jazz Fri., Oct. 11

Django’s Reserve plays Best Video Performance Space Friday, Oct. 11. 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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Music: Restless Mountain Bluegrass Band plays Thurs., Oct. 10

Restless Mountain Bluegrass Band plays Best Video Performance Space on Thursday, Oct. 10. The show starts at 8 PM and the cover is a sliding scale of $5-10 (pay what you can in that range).

Restless Mountain Bluegrass Band has performed in various configurations in Connecticut for over a decade, and reconstituted in 2017 with several new musicians, a new song mix and new presentation. Matt Fleury (vocals, banjo), Jerry Devokaitis (vocals, guitar), Scott Camara (Dobro), Dave Aston (bass) have each been active bluegrass musicians for many years.

Restless Mountain Bluegrass Band always offers a fun mix of traditional standards and entertaining classics that bring fond memories and a smile. From music stages to special occasions, we’ll entertain!

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Second Wednesday Open Mic takes place Wed., Oct. 9, at 7 PM

Musicians! Comedians! Poets! Magicians! Spoken word artists! The Second Wednesday Open Mic takes place Wednesday, Oct. 9, 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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Support Paint Hamden Pink fight against breast cancer through purchases at Best Video cafe Fri., Oct. 4

Come visit Best Video Film & Cultural Center anytime on Oct. 4 and for every cafe purchase, they will donate 10% of the sales to Making Strides Against Breast Cancer as part of Paint Hamden Pink.

Paint Hamden Pink’s statement:

Breast cancer is a cause that is personal to so many people at our company. That’s why we’re joining the nation’s largest network of breast cancer events – the American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. We’ll raise money and awareness and together we can continue to save lives.

The American Cancer Society is an important resource for women who are newly diagnosed with breast cancer. We owe it to those women to support the organization that does more than any other for them by funding innovative research and providing free information and services.

We are proud to be participating in Making Strides Against Breast Cancer and thrilled about the difference that our associates and their families are making to save lives from breast cancer.

Music: The Elm City Ramblers play bluegrass & traditional folk Tues., Oct. 8, at 7:30 PM

The Elm City Ramblers, led by Phil Rosenthal, play Best Video Performance Space on Tuesday, Oct. 8. 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 bluegrass jam Sun., Oct. 6, from 2-5 PM

The “First Sunday” Hamden Bluegrass Jam—hosted by GuitarTown CT Productions takes place Sunday, Oct. 6, from 2-5 PM.

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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Children’s Music: Peter Menta aka “Washboard Slim” plays Sat., Oct. 5, 10:30 AM

Peter Menta—also known as Washboard Slim of Washboard Slim and the Bluelights—brings his kids’ music show to Best Video Performance Space Saturday, Oct. 5. 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. This show is for children of all ages. Peter will invite the children to sing and play fun instruments to classic children’s songs.

Musician and elementary school teacher-librarian, Peter Menta began his career as the New Haven Free Public Library’s first bookmobile librarian, serving ten of New Haven’s neediest schools. He followed that assignment by becoming children’s librarian at the Stetson Branch of the N.H.F.P.L system where he won first prize in an American Library Association contest for best story time using an African-American Children’s Book.

These days, he offers his interactive music and literature fusion: “Books That Inspire Songs-Songs That Inspire Books” to diverse audiences in schools and libraries. Mr. Menta often begins a program by reading an engaging feature story with original and traditional music. In the “Blues of Flats Brown,” for example, he has created songs for children to sing along to which help reinforce the main ideas and themes of the story: Building a better world through friendship, understanding and music. Children engage in a discussion about how to change an enemy into a friend. Children are also exposed to America’s rich heritage of blues, folk music and rock ‘n’ roll.

Mr. Menta has created songs to enhance books by authors such as Tomie DePaolo, Helen Lester and Mo Willems. He also offers a program that is strictly songs inspired by books or songs that have turned into books; such as “This Land Is Your Land” (inspired by the famous Woody Guthrie song). The program concludes with an introduction to homemade musical instruments and an on the spot creation of that uniquely “Made in America” musical ensemble: The Jug Band. Children from the audience are selected to play kazoos, a washtub bass, washboards and other homemade or “found” instruments.

Click here for the complete list of upcoming events.