Music: “Three chords and the truth” from The Bluegrass Characters Tues., Apr. 30, at 7:30

The Bluegrass Characters will play Best Video Performance Space on Tuesday, Apr. 30. The show starts at 7:30 PM and the cover is $5.

Formerly led by the great Stacy Phillips—who tragically passed away last year—The Bluegrass Characters are a local bluegrass supergroup 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), Tom Hagymasi (fiddle), Pete Kelly (bass), Joe “Pepe” Lemeris (banjo) and Andy Bromage (guitar). Three chords and the truth, sung from the heart and through the nose.

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Music: Singer-songwriter Sabrina Trueheart plays Fri., Apr. 26

Sabrina Trueheart plays Best Video Performance Space on Friday, Apr. 26. The show starts at 8 PM and the cover is a sliding scale of $5-10—pay what you can in that range.

Sabrina Trueheart is a singer/songwriter from New Haven, Connecticut. A lifelong musician, she began playing guitar and writing her own music at age 10, and later decided to turn her passion into her career. In 2014, Sabrina released an EP of original works entitled “Neck of the Woods.”

She attended Cooperative Arts High School in New Haven where she studied music theory and jazz guitar. Today, she is a student at Fairfield University working towards her bachelor’s degree in music. Sabrina’s original music ranges from folk to pop. Her influences include Jewel, Joni Mitchell, Anthony Green, and Lana Del Rey.

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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 GuitarTownCT.com.

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: All in the family Americana from River Run Fri., Mar. 29

Americana band River Run plays Best Video Performance Space show Fri., Mar. 29. The show starts at 8 PM and the cover is $10.

River Run is not your typical Americana band. Based in New Haven, CT, their sound is rooted firmly in guitarist Bill Wallace’s classic rock influences, earthy vocals from lead singer Sam Wallace, and Kat Wallace’s intuitive and sonorous fiddle interludes. With soaring sibling harmony and original song writing, they create a unique musical experience.

River Run is currently recording its first EP with Grammy-nominated Ira Sokolsky at Riverway Studios. The album is an intimate look into heartbreak and healing, captured with driving strings and tight harmonies.

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Music: Bluegrass & (sometimes) Pink Floyd from Dudley Farm String Band Thurs., Mar. 28

The Dudley Farm String Band plays the Best Video Performance Space on Thursday, Mar. 28. The music starts at 8 PM and the cover is a sliding scale of $5-10 (pay what you can in that range).

While they have roots in bluegrass, Dudley Farm String Band brings together bluegrass, traditional and progressive styles. You might hear them playing old-timey standards one minute, and progressive folk or rock-‘n-roll sets the next. They have a great time when they play together, and it shows.

They pull tunes and styles from the likes of Bill Monroe, Ralph Stanley, The Soggy Bottom Boys (from “O Brother Where Art Thou?”), Doc Watson, Bela Fleck, Pink Floyd, Irving Berlin, Jerry Garcia and David Grisman. The group has also developed a substantial collection of original tunes.

The five band members play a range of folk instruments: Mat Crowley – mandolin; Irv Hagwood – banjo; Stan Hershonic (who is unavailable for this show, unfortunately) – resonator slide guitar, mandolin, banjolin and harmonica; Mike Sinclair – bass and harmonica; and Brian Young – guitar, banjo and bass. They all sing from time to time, with Brian, Mat and Stan most often featured.

They’ve played in venues around the state, including: The Podunk Bluegrass Festival, East Hartford, CT; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven; Medad Stone Tavern Museum, Guilford; Madison Historical Society and Bauer Park, Madison, CT; Night of a Thousand Stars (Guilford Free Library); North Branford Library; The International Festival of Arts & Ideas, New Haven, CT; The Durham Fair, and, of course, performances at Dudley Farm. Dudley Farm String Band also recorded traditional music for the soundtrack of a Dudley Farm video showing a recent barn-raising at the farm.

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Music: Singer-songwriters Bob Csugie, Frank Critelli, Richard Neal & Mark Mirando trade off tunes Wed., Mar. 27

The singer-songwriters Mark Mirando, Richard Neal, Frank Critelli and Bob Csugie will trade off tunes at Best Video Performance Space on Wednesday, Mar. 27. The show starts at 8 PM and attendees can pay what they can afford between $5-10.

Mark Mirando started his music career in New Haven Connecticut playing in the legendary “Dogs”, a group that was well know for their originals as well as carefully chosen, well crafted covers

Mark concentrates on original music now, although he’ll pull out a Beatles gem on occasion – and he’s recorded with no less than Beatle Ringo Starr. Mark played guitar and sang backup vocals on Ringo’s releases, “Ringo-Rama”, “Choose Love”, and two of Ringo’s greatest hits CD’s, “Photograph” and “Ringo 5.1”.

He performs the east coast singer songwriter circuit working both solo and also with his band and also travels to Nashville to write, record and perform with Nashville’s top songwriters including Georgia Middleman and Connecticut’s own Gary Burr. Mark’s latest CD is titled “Now That You Mention It” and it features such guest artist as Gary Burr, Georgia Middleman, Jim Photoglo, Victoria Shaw and Stealing Angels (Caroline Cutbirth, Jennifer Wayne, Tayla Lynn). One of Mark’s song’s, “What More Do You Want?” was recorded by Kristin Chenoweth and was released on her latest CD titled “Some Lessons Learned.”

Dick Neal is a student of music, songwriting, record production, and live performance. A multi-instrumentalist (guitar, 5-string banjo, mandolin, dobro, slide), he has been privileged to make a living as a musician and to work in a wide variety of musical settings and styles.

Dick appears regularly in concert as a sideman for any number of acts, and also as a regular member of the bluegrass band HOE. As a solo artist and songwriter, he has released 2 CD’s of original music, HOE and Beacon. Several of his compositions have been recorded by other singers.

Bob Csugie has been performing as part of the bluegrass and acoustic scenes in Connecticut for over 20 years. Among his roles has been playing upright bass with The Anne Marie Menta Band.

Frank Critelli writes songs. He dabbles in haiku and other short poetry. Sometimes he writes other stuff too. Like postcards. His songs are available on compact disc and for download at places like CD Baby. Frank Critelli often performs live. Sometimes he performs solo, and sometimes he is accompanied by one or more musical co-conspirators. Over the years he’s played in streets and subways, clubs and coffeehouses, barrooms and classrooms, colleges, festivals, theaters, and (most recently) in his kitchen.

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Music: Monthly Irish/Celtic music jam coincidentally falls on St. Patrick’s Day, Sun., Mar. 17, from 1-3 PM

Best Video Performance hosts a monthly acoustic Irish music jam. The March jam takes place on St. Patrick’s Day, Sunday, Mar. 17, from 1-3 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.

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Music: Five In the Chamber returns with ace bluegrass chops Fri., Feb. 22

Bluegrass quintet Five in the Chamber play Best Video Performance Space on Friday, Feb. 22. The show starts at 8 PM and the cover is $5.

Five in the Chamber is a New Haven, Connecticut based bluegrass band that drives hard and carries a big pick. They respect the tradition. They respect the trailblazers. And they respect the renegade outlaws. Our final product is an eclectic balance of unique music which both reinterprets and redefines the bluegrass songbook.

Formed in 2011, the band has spent the last several years building a catalog of original catalog that showcase the group’s strong vocals, musicianship, and passion for genre busting. The band released their debut album in the Fall of 2013 entitled Live in the Chamber to rave reviews and is currently working on a new EP.

Five in the Chamber is Ken McEwen (Guitar, Vocals), Pete Kaufman (Banjo), Kat Wallace (Fiddle, Vocals), Dave Casali (Bass, Vocals) and David Sasso (Mandolin, Vocals). (Banjo player Pete Kaufman will not be available for this show.)