Music: Jellyshirts jam at Best Video Wed., Oct. 30

Rock trio Jellyshirts return to Best Video Performance Space on Wednesday, Oct. 30. The show starts at 8 PM and the cover is a sliding scale of $5-10 (pay what you can in that range).

Looking for a frame of reference for Jellyshirts’ music? Try the Velvet Underground and the Byrds. But the band–led by guitarist/vocalist Bret Logan for over 20 years, ably joined by drummer Scott McDonald and bass player Nick Appleby–has a sound determinedly their own.

From the band’s press packet: “Letting the wash of live sound influence each song, without anybody thinking ‘jazz’ or ‘improvisation.’ Never doing covers of our songs. Trying to get you to levitate about one-and-a-half feet off your chair (willingly, of course).”

The short version: They’re loud and they play bars with a mystical need to reach the audience.

From a 2009 Shoreline Times article by late musician and WPLR Local Bands radio show host James Velvet: “The band has been held in awe by its fans over the years for its sometimes soaring, sometimes droning sound, always played with intensity and skill. A good example is the current lead tune on their MySpace page, a recent live recording of a song they first performed 15 years ago, ‘Disinclined.’ Ten minutes of dynamic live jamming. ‘Pick and soar’ is how their longtime champion Gary Vollono of describes the sound. To which I would add, ‘…and feedback sometimes.’”

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Music: The Bluegrass Characters play Tues., Oct. 29, at 7:30 PM

The Bluegrass Characters will play Best Video Performance Space on Tuesday, Oct. 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).

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), Pete Kaufman (banjo), Andy Bromage (guitar), and Kat Wallace (fiddle). Three chords and the truth, sung from the heart and through the nose.

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Film screening: Best Video staffer Rob Harmon hosts Halloween-themed “Secret Cinema” triple bill Mon., Oct. 28, starting at 6:30 PM

Best Video Film & Cultural Center staffer Rob Harmon hosts a semi-regular cult film series under the rubric “Secret Cinema.” The next Secret Cinema takes place Monday, Oct. 28, at 6:308 PM. Along with the night’s movie, Rob shows relevant film trailers and cranks up the Best Video popcorn machine for cinema-appropriate snacking.​

For this special Halloween-themed edition of Secret Cinema, Rob has curated three seasonally appropriate chillers. We don’t promote the titles online but you can call us to find out what is scheduled.

Secret Cinema is free but donations to support Best Video Film & Cultural Center and its programming are always welcome. For more info, call (203) 287-9286 or email secretcinemact [AT]

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Comedy: Reel Life—A Stand-Up Comedy Show returns with new host Stosh Mikita Sat., Oct. 26, at 8 PM

Best Video Film & Cultural Center presents the return of Reel Life—A Stand-Up Comedy Show on Saturday, Oct. 26. With host creator Kendra Dawsey now relocated to Boston, Reel Life is now 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.

Harper Liles is a New Haven based standup comic who has been performing all over the Northeast and Canada. Some topics of note include her southern upbringing, chronic illness and observations about navigating this world gone mad. When she is not on stage telling jokes, she is under them playing instruments in pit orchestras for musicals. She’s not bragging, she’s just tired.

Shawn Murray is a writer, comedian, and international heartthrob from New Haven. He’s performed in all sorts of places, with all the good people. It is of his opinion that no one actually reads these bios, so he’d like to use this space to say that Field of Dreams is a nonsense movie.

Also on the bill are Paul Kilmer and NYC-based comic Keele Howard-Stone.

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Halloween special event: “The Phantom Carriage” silent film screening with live score by Light Upon Blight Fri., Oct. 25, at 8 PM

Avant-garde rock group Light Upon Blight Ensemble returns for their fifth annual Halloween special on Friday, Oct. 25, this time improvising a live score to the 1921 silent film “The Phantom Carriage,” directed by Victor Sjöström. The show starts at 8 PM and the cover is a sliding scale of $5-10 (pay what you can in that range). Costumes and other Halloween trick or treatery are encouraged and welcomed.

“The Phantom Carriage” has been cited as the movie that inspired Ingmar Bergman’s career in cinema. (Decades later, director Victor Sjöström played a professor facing his own mortality in Bergman’s “Wild Strawberries.”) From the Chicago Reader synopsis: “The story, told through a complex flashback structure, resembles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol: a self-destructive and irresponsible man has a brush with the “carriage of death,” which allows him to review his life.”

From Dave Kehr’s New York Times review of the 2011 Criterion DVD and Blu-Ray release:

Based on a novel by Selma Lagerlof, the film blends an Ibsen-like psychological naturalism with a cosmic, folkloric perspective… The morbid subject matter suggests the Expressionist films then being made in Germany (Fritz Lang’s “Destiny,” also released in 1921, immediately comes to mind), but Sjostrom avoids the stylistic extravagances of the Germans. There are no distorted sets or dramatic shadows but rather a kind of heightened intimacy: small rooms with rough walls and bare floors, cramped quarters for a filmmaker whose earlier work (“The Outlaw and His Wife,” 1918) was celebrated for its expressive use of open landscapes.

Light Upon Blight will be Jeff Cedrone (guitar, synth, piano), Bob Gorry (guitar), Lys Guillorn (lap steel guitar), Benjamin Hecht (bass), Rob Nelson (keyboards), Vance Provey (trumpet), and Peter Riccio (drums, percussion).

Previous Light Upon Blight live soundtracks: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages, Nosferatu, Carnival of Souls, Eraserhead, and Faust.

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Music: Folk sounds from Sheldon Campbell and David Coller Thurs., Oct. 24, at 7 PM

Sheldon Campbell and David Coller play Best Video Performance Space on Thursday, Oct. 24. The show starts at 7 PM and the cover is a sliding scale of $5-10 (pay what you can in that range).

Connecticut singer-songwriter David Coller is again playing local venues following a 14 year musical hiatus involving a wooden boat (if you’ve ever owned one you understand). He brings with him a variety of songs and styles: jazzy soon-to-be standards, new bluegrass tunes, sea-songs, a cowboy tune or two and plenty of straight-up folk performed on the guitar, banjo, and the odd bit of button accordion. If you have wide-ranging (not to say “scattered” or “aimless”) tastes in music, an appreciation for careful instrumental and vocal arrangements, and an enjoyment of polished lyrics, you’re bound to enjoy the show. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in music from USC, and before vanishing into the world of splinters, sandpaper and sail, David played for many years in duos and bands in Connecticut and southern California. He now resides in the last rural smidgeon of Hamden, Connecticut.

Sheldon Campbell performs a mix of traditional and original folk music. A student of Robert Messore for guitar and Martha King for voice for over 10 years, Sheldon has performed at St. John’s coffee house in New Haven, on WSHU’s Profiles in Folk (, in classes at the Yale School of Medicine (where he’s an award-winning teacher), at national scientific meetings, and in local folk venues. He organizes a monthly folk-music House Hoot, and serves on the board of the Branford Folk Music society. He writes original songs about history, fatherhood, and even microbial disease. Look forward to an infectious evening of song from the silly to the dramatic, with plenty of opportunities to sing along.

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Music: Singer-songwriter Ginny Bales at Best Video Wed., Oct. 23

Singer-songwriter Ginny bales plays Best Video Performance Space on Wednesday, Oct. 23. The show starts at 8 PM and the cover is $10.

Ginny Bales graduated from Barnard College and has taught at Southern Connecticut State University, the College of New Rochelle, and Yale. She performed as a solo singer-songwriter in coffeehouses, concerts and music festivals on the East and West coasts. She played bass and piano with Night Angels, opened for Bonnie Raitt, and has appeared on 15 albums. She wrote book, music, and lyrics for the full-length musical Stanton Women’s Chorus, which had its first Equity production in May of 1989. She was named Songwriter of the Year for 1987 by the Connecticut Songwriters Association.

She was a Fellow at the 1999 Cabaret Symposium at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She began performances of her cabaret show “I Sang at Your Wedding” (original songs and commentary based on her years of experience as a wedding singer) in 2001, her Cole Porter show in 2003, and her Rodgers and Hart show in 2005. Her songs have been featured in the Washington, DC Cabaret Network showcases in 2001 and 2004.

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Music: GuitarTownCT bluegrass jam Mon., Oct. 21, at 5:30 PM

The monthly first Sunday GuitarTownCT bluegrass jams became so successful that Chris Wuerth added a new jam to the schedule. For those who need to twang community-wise more than once a month—or can’t make the Sunday afternoon events—we now have a bluegrass jam (usually) on the Third Monday of every month from 6-9 PM. Admission to this jam is a suggested donation of $5. October’s jam is on Monday, Oct. 21, from 5:30-9 PM.

Players of all abilities are welcome as well as those who just enjoy listening.

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Monthly Irish jam takes place Sun., Oct. 20, at 2 PM

Best Video Performance Space hosts a monthly acoustic Irish music jam. The October jam takes place on Sunday, Oct. 20, 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 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.

Sign up now for Best Cookie Contest, part of Best Video Film & Cultural Center’s Nov. 16 Anniversary Open House & Fundraising Extravaganza

On Saturday, November 16, 2019, Best Video Film and Cultural Center (BVFCC), celebrating its fourth anniversary, will host its BVFCC Anniversary Open House & Fundraising Extravaganza—a full day of festivity, pageantry, and fun for all ages. As part of that event, we will be hosting a Best Cookie Contest, set to occur from 1-4 PM.

Up to 16 bakers will be competing for the Best Cookie. If you want to be one of the bakers, send an email with the subject “Cookie” to bvfcc [at] Include your name, phone and type of cookie. The first 16 bakers to email us to sign up will be part of the contest. You will be emailed with full details once you sign up.

Want to be a taster? There’s no need to sign up—just come to Best Video Film & Cultural Center’s Sat., Nov. 16, Open House & Fundraiser, get a ballot for $2, and vote for your favorite cookies.

We have some great prizes for the winners. Any kind of cookie is welcome!