Music: Particles of Light (Dave Brooks & friends), Dan Soto’s Artificial Energy play Thurs., Aug. 22, at 8 PM

Particles of Light, a new act led by Dave Brooks (formerly of The Streams), and Dan Soto’s Artificial Energy play Best Video Performance Space on Thursday, Aug. 22. The show starts at 8 PM and the cover is a sliding scale of $5-10 (pay what you can in that range).

Dave Brooks is a singer-songwriter best known for his band The Streams, which featured Jeff Wiederschall (Miracle Legion, Baby Huey). Spike Priggen (Hello Strangers, Dumptruck) and New Haven guitar impresario Bill Beckett. The band previously released a civil war-themed rock album: Today, I Died but has lain dormant for some time with only intermittent solo performances.

Dave’s song chest is near overflowing with story-songs and sleeping rockers aching for some percussion and embellishments so his latest manifestation is Particles of Light- primarily a duo between Dave and Jeff with add-ins and extras including Streams remnants and new particles. The particles reference is lifted from some recent song lyrics winking at physics and alchemical notions about the origin of man’s persistent and puzzling melancholy.

Dan Soto’s Artificial Energy has been described as ceaseless begging, useless prodding, and endless yearning for the truth lurking behind all nonsense. Rock & roll never really played right, but not really ever wrong either. An audition for nothing. A fun dip into a rockin’ time. Nothing intentionally too low or high. Nothing less than genuine. Just a thing that happens. Just a rogue tune rocking. Just a rocker. Featuring Dan Soto and Brendan Toller of Dust Hat but with Dust Hat bassist Soto on guitar and guitarist Toller on drums.

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Music: Kath Bloom, Powers/Rolin Duo, Austin Larkin play Sun., Aug. 4, at 7 PM

Renowned folk/singer-songwriter Kath Bloom returns to Best Video Performance Space on Sunday, Aug. 4. Joining Bloom on the bill is the Ohio-based Powers/Rolin Duo and violinist Austin Larkin. This early show starts at 7 PM and the cover is a sliding scale of $7-10 (pay what you can in that range).

For fans of the song and how to feel it. Kath Bloom (USA) is some kind of legend. She comes from a special place where country, blues and folk are made beautifully translucent and emotive. She has a special gift – her voice is delicate and tender, yet retains that raw emotion and hard worn truths that allows each sung word to be felt.

The more you hear of Kath Bloom, the more you notice it’s not just the arresting voice, but the power of the songwriting. “Beautiful” is the typical response—the kind of beauty that comes from truth, musical and the deeply lyrical. There are no good comparisons, but if you like the deep well of Emmylou Harris, the more poignant lyrics of Lou Reed, the joy of Maher Shalal Hash Baz or even Joni Mitchell, you’re kinda in the right zone. In reality, she’s simply Kath Bloom: horse whisperer, vocalist, mum, songwriter and a beautiful person.

Her albums recorded with Loren Mazzacane Connors in the 70′s/80′s are rare things, full of songs that float and melt into the ether. Impossibly beautiful and hard to find on LP, but check the reissues from a few years ago. In the 90′s Kath’s music was famously featured in Richard Linklater’s film Before Sunrise. Since then she has been busy writing and recording to great acclaim. Two new albums in the last few years and she and her songs where also honoured on a tribute album featuring Bill Callahan, Scout Niblett and Mark Kozelek.

Powers/Rolin Duo are an improvisational folk drone group based in Columbus, OH. Jen Powers is a former member of Autophonia, whose Scioto Records cassette release “Nolite Te Bastardes Carborundorum” was featured by Marc Masters in his Best Experimental Music on Bandcamp article in April of 2019. Matthew J. Rolin has made a name for himself in the guitar soli community over the past three years; his third solo album is set for vinyl and digital release by Feeding Tube Records by the end of 2019. In this project, Jen plays a lightly effected hammered dulcimer and Matthew plays an acoustic 12-string guitar. Together, they create hypnotic tapestries of sound that are both meditative and emotionally dynamic. They have shared bills with Luke Stewart, Amps for Christ, Itasca, Elkhorn, Charalambides, David Nance Group, Mountain Movers, Anthony Pasquarosa, and many more, and have collaborated with Wolf Eyes, Aaron Dilloway, and others.

Austin Larkin is an artist focusing on sound. His work includes performance and composition for violin, ensembles of instruments, electronic media, environments, instances. He recently relocated to New Haven from the Seattle, WA area.

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Music: Thabisa performs Afro-soul Thurs., July 25, at Best Video

Thabisa plays Best Video Performance Space on Thursday, July 25. The show starts at 8 PM. The cover is a sliding scale from $10-15 but $5 will also allow you to enjoy the show.

A night of reflection and openness to new beginnings as Thabisa carves and weaves her way through these grounds of unfamiliar territory. This singer songwriter from South Africa and now New Haven’s songbird will share her talents and journey through music and storytelling. Accompanied by the Hamden’s talented musicians Myke Ross (guitar) and Sam Oliver (percussion/drums) she will bring in songs unsung and a few of your favourites from both her “Eyodidi” and “The Journey” albums.

Thabisa’s story begins in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Born and raised by her grandparents in KwaZakhele township, she could always be found singing and dancing outside her home. Neighbors gave her the name “Little Brenda” for the legendary South African pop star Brenda Fassie.

In 2012 she entered the national singing competition, Idols South Africa, and finished in the Top 18. The following year, she signed on with the independent record label Tammy Music and produced two albums, Eyodidi (2015) and The Journey (2013).

Thabisa received a nomination for Best Video at the South African Traditional Music Awards (SATMA) for the song “Vula” off her first album, The Journey. Musically, she finds inspiration from the likes of Miriam Makeba and Billy Holiday, and has shared a stage with living legends Caiphus Simenya, Bebe and Cece Winans, Thandiswa Mazwai and Freshly Ground.

Thabisa currently lives with her family in the United States. “What makes my music worthwhile, is the opportunities it opens for me to work with children and inspire them to dream big” she explained. THABISA volunteers with children using music, cultural exchange, and story-telling.

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Music: storytaryn booking presents singer-songwriters Octavia McAloon, Mountainess, Ashley Hamel Fri., July 5, at 7:30 PM

The singer-songwriters Octavia McAloon, Mountainess, and Ashley Hamel play Best Video Performance Space on Friday, July 5. 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 show is being presented by promoter storytaryn booking.

Northwest native Octavia McAloon writes music that exists firmly in the middle ground of her two musical traditions- Folk and Choral. Singing nearly constantly since childhood, she became entranced with the depth of harmony choral music offered. The year she discovered her love of choral music she also began playing guitar; since then, both genres have had a significant pull on her life. In her classical training, she has received her BM in Vocal Performance (2013) from Cornish College of the Arts, and her MM in Choral Conducting (2018) and Certificate from the Yale School of Music and the Yale Institute of Sacred Music, respectively.

McAloon is most interested in music that achieves something genuinely new for its genre. This love of choral music manifests itself in her songwriting with consistent use of intricately woven vocal harmonies and as a texture that builds the foundation of most of her music. She is currently in the process of facilitating her first studio album, to be released by early 2020.

Mountainess is the cinematic and deeply lyrical creation of Providence-based musician Emily Goldstein. A confessional poet, a peeling bell, a rain cloud, a haunted house—no matter what you hear, Mountainess holds her ground and rarely says sorry. A project born out of a desire to convey sincerity in a musical realm saturated with wry, distant vocal delivery, Mountainess aims to be present and up close

Ashley Hamel is a singer-songwriter, improviser, and wizard rocker based out of Connecticut. She has a loyal following in the Harry Potter fan community, with hilarious and heartfelt original songs such as “Love Cannot Be Sorted” and “Hufflepuff Puff Pass”, in addition to a growing international fanbase in Indonesia.

Hamel is also an improv comedian performing with her groups The Rumour Cauldron and Harry Potter & the Brilliant Suggestion, based out of Hartford’s Sea Tea Comedy Theater. She also performs regularly with her high-energy cover band, HEAT, playing weddings, parties, and clubs across the New England area.

Her energetic live show combines her powerful pop vocals and heavy-handed rhythm guitar with strong songwriting and an infectious stage presence. Inspired and refreshed after a two month-long residency in Indonesia in early 2018, Hamel is set to release her first studio album, a wizard rock concept record called “WZRD” in January 2019.

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Music: Clare Byrne plays LP release show for new record “Celestials” Sat., June 15

Singer-songwriter Clare Byrne plays Best Video Performance Space Saturday, June 15, as a release party for her new vinyl LP “Celestials.” The show starts at 8 PM and the cover is a sliding scale of $5-10 (pay what you can in that range).

Clare Byrne’s songwriting and music bring together folk, rhythm & blues, & gospel in an astral acoustic/electric mix, with incisive, poignant lyrics. Her 2019 double LP Celestials assembles a diverse and multi-talented group of New York City and Vermont musicians for a vinyl album release party on June 15, 2019 at Best Video & Cultural Center.

Celestials is a conceptual “chamber music” album, arranged in suites of songs. It features Byrne along with thirteen musicians in vocals, acoustic and electric guitar, hand percussion, cello, sleigh bells, piano, flute, saxophone, and synthesizer, recorded over a year of studio sessions in Burlington, VT. The twin albums, “Sister” and “Brother” take listeners on a journey across landscapes of relationship, gender, and race, ranging from Vermont to New York City to Italy to introspective chambers of the heart. It contains fourteen original songs by Byrne, a song by New York songwriter Rodrigo Alonzo, and the Irish traditional, “The Water is Wide.”

The limited vinyl pressing, with photographs by New York City photographer Hiroyuki Ito and design by Vermont graphic and font designer Alec Julien, will be available at Best Video for sale. The album includes a download card for digital download.

The release party will include performance by very special guests The Elm City Ramblers, led by local bluegrass phenom Phil Rosenthal. Other special New Haven musical guests TBA!

Clare is a dancer-and-choreographer-turned-musician who has performed and taught in New York City and environs, Burlington VT, and around the world. She began songwriting through guitar, harmonica and piano in 2011; her EP Seed was released in Vermont in 2017, after which she toured Ireland with Ink the Octopus (Dan Strauss and Remy DeLaroque).

In her career she has performed in many venues, including Dance Theater Workshop, Danspace Project, The Joyce Theater, P.S. 122, Dixon Place in NYC and The Flynn Center for the Arts in Burlington, VT. Multi-year projects have included Weekly Rites (2007-2012), a weekly online video, dance, and writing improvisational blog, and The Poor Sister Clares Traveling Dancing Monk Show (2009 – 2013), an experiment in contemplative community, gardening and performance in Vermont. She is a recipient of grants and residencies through The Joyce Theater Foundation, Dixon Place, The Yard on Martha’s Vineyard, The Dragon’s Egg, The Silo Residency, Brooklyn Arts Exchange, Greywood Arts in Killeagh, Ireland, and the Bogliasco Foundation in Bogliasco, Italy, among others. Clare was a founding member of Nicholas Leichter Dance, the artistic director of Clare Byrne Dance for ten years, and has written dance reviews for the online publication offoffoff.com. Clare has taught dance at Muhlenberg College, Long Island University, Manhattanville College, and was a Senior Lecturer in Dance in the Department of Music and Dance at the University of Vermont.

Clare currently lives in New Haven, studies music at the Neighborhood Music School, and is a member of the Elm City Ramblers.

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Music and Literary Reading: Marykate O’Neil and Rachel Cline share evening Sat., June 8, at 8 PM

Singer-songwriter Marykate O’Neil plays Best Video Performance Space on Saturday, June 8. Sharing the bill with O’Neil is her friend Rachel Cline, who will read from her recent novel The Question Authority. The event starts at 8 PM and the cover is a sliding scale of $5-10 (pay what you can in that range).

New England-born and New York City-based indie pop songwriter Marykate O’Neil has released six albums, a couple of 45s, some cassettes; been featured in movies and television shows; played to big festival crowds and empty seats in darkened basements throughout the US and Europe. Her music has been called “Elvis Costello meets Astrud Gilberto”; “a female George Harrison”; a “Capote-esque story teller”; and most frequently like herself. The Boston Globe might have captured it best—or at least the funniest—when they said: “O’Neil’s literate lyrics feature the sort of off-kilter insights Emily Dickinson might make if alive today. After listening to commercial radio, hearing O’Neil sing is like reading Sylvia Path’s brutally honest poetry in the wake of watching “American Idol.” O’Neill will be accompanied by Gerry Giaimo (guitar), Dave Shuman (bass), and Pete Riccio (drums).

Rachel Cline is the author of the novels What to Keep and My Liar (both from Random House). She has written for The New York Times, New York, More, SELF and Tin House and is a produced screen and television writer. She was a screenwriting instructor at University of Souther California and has taught fiction at New York University, Eugene Lang College and Sarah Lawrence College. She has been a resident of Yaddo, a fellow of Sewanee, and a Girls Write Now mentor. She lives in Brooklyn Heights, a few blocks from where she grew up. The Question Authority, published by Red Hen Press this past April, is a timely and moving novel about what happens when childhood best friends face the damage done by the teacher who molested them both.

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Music: Singer-songwriter George Morgio, rock group The Wyrd Brothers play Wed., May 29

Singer-songwriter George Morgio and the rock group The Wyrd Brothers play Best Video Performance Space on Wed., May 29. The show starts at 8 PM and the cover is a sliding scale of $5-10 (pay what you can in that range).

George Morgio started his musical career in the mid 1960’s. He was the lead singer and songwriter for NAIF, the North Atlantic Invasion Force, a band he formed in 1964. NAIF achieved success in the Southern Connecticut area, releasing Blue and Green Gown, Sweet Bird of Love and Elephant in My Tambourine, all of which hit the local charts.

During this time, NAIF played clubs, colleges, and concerts, opening for groups such as The Rascals, The Rolling Stones, The McCoys, The Searchers, The Zombies, Vanilla Fudge, and George Carlin. In 1968, their recording of Black on White hit #1 in Southern Connecticut and was on the national music charts. The hit was played on nationally televised American Bandstand and radio stations throughout the country.

George pursued a solo career, playing original songs in clubs, colleges, and concerts in the early 1970’s. In 1973 he took some time off from music, which turned into a thirty-plus year sabbatical. During this period he was involved in the demands of building up a successful antiques business. The History of Garage Bands in the 60’s: Volume I  was released in 1995. The CD was a retrospective of NAIF, containing 14 original works, including 7 songs previously unreleased.

With the release of his CD Listen in the Dark, George has returned to his love and passion, writing and performing original material. His songs are emotional journeys touching on love, the environment, world peace, the homeless, politics, and the human condition.

Brian & Peter Wyrd played in various bands together starting out in 1967 as a Byrds cover band in Jr High school. They spent their youth playing music in the family barn or down in the basement breathing in concrete dust. After 30 years Brian received an email from Peter with the first round of lyrics to “Racing to the Bottom.” Brian sent back a guitar part and the idea of a reunion was born.

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Music: Shawn Taylor, Frank Critelli trade tunes Thurs., May 2

Singer-songwriters Shawn Taylor and Frank Critelli play Best Video Performance Space on Thursday, May 2, The show starts at 8 PM and the cover is a sliding scale of $5-10 (pay what you can in that range).

With a thumping thumb, dancing fingers, wailing harp, deep, gritty, soul stirring vocals and poetic blue collar lyrics, Shawn Taylor’s songs ooze American roots; wandering roots. He’s drawn comparisons from Tom Waites to Ray Lamontagne, Bruce Springsteen to Chris Smither, but his original songs are colored by the experiences of his own working class, wandering roots. He’s been an oysterman, carpenter, hitchhiker, homeowner, familly man, Appalachian Trail ‘thru-hiker’ and a performing musician and song writer, for over twenty years.

He plays venues from New England to Nashville and has shared the stage with artists such as, Maria Muldaur, Peter Mulvey, Vance Gilbert, Garnet Rodgers and Caravan of Thieves.

Frank Critelli writes songs. He dabbles in haiku and other short poetry. He also writes other things. Like postcards.

Frank Critelli often performs live. Sometimes he performs solo, sometimes he is accompanied by one or more musical co-conspirators (“The Don” Horton: bass guitar, acoustic guitar; Shandy Lawson: lead guitar, mandolin; Mark Mirando: keys, guitar, backing vocals; Al Raebuck: guitar, backing vocals; Rich “Southbound” Suarez: drums; Jim Stavris: drums; Ed Leonard: percussion; Bumpy Chimes: guitar, misc) or in conjunction with other songwriters (most specifically, as part of the Times Three Tour with Christopher Bousquet and Mr. Ray Neal). Over the years he’s played in streets and subways, barrooms and classrooms, coffeehouses and colleges, theaters, festivals, and (most recently) in his kitchen.

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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: 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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