James Ford



Charlie Chaplin launched his Tramp character in 1914’s Kid Auto Races at Venice. By 1918 he was one of the most famous and highest-paid people in the world. Photo courtesy of Virginia Film Festival.

Wonder years: Tribute marks Charlie Chaplin’s debut

On Saturday the Virginia Film Festival will screen a selection of short comedies starring Charlie Chaplin in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the legendary actor-director’s first appearance as the Little Tramp. Accordingly, the festival program eschews Chaplin’s better-known features in favor of five early short comedies. “The program illustrates perfectly his progression as a […]

ARTS Pick: John Lindaman

ARTS Pick: John Lindaman

John Lindaman hasn’t lived in Charlottesville for years, but he’s fondly remembered by many for his seminal late-’90s band True Love Always,  a regular on the old Tokyo Rose stage (more recent Charlottesville transplants may recognize Lindaman for his central role in The Parking Lot Movie). Over the course of three albums (and one singles […]

Dragon is fun, breathtaking, and ridiculous

Dragon is fun, breathtaking, and ridiculous

For Americans seeking a good introduction to the appeal of martial arts films in general, and the talents of Bruce Lee in particular, the obvious starting point is usually Enter the Dragon. By 1973, action movies had already dominated the Hong Kong film industry for decades, but Dragon – an international production by Golden Harvest […]

Stephen Steinbrink makes his annual return

Stephen Steinbrink makes his annual return

I first heard Stephen Steinbrink in a suburban basement, around 4am. The evening’s wild, drunken revelries were dying down, a guitar was being passed around the small circle of musicians, and he was begged to play. He played two songs (one cover and one original) which were so simple, direct, delicate, and great, that it […]

Volunteer cupids celebrate 10 years of bicycle-based valentine Delivery

Volunteer cupids celebrate 10 years of bicycle-based valentine Delivery

This Friday, volunteers from Community Bikes will be distributing Valentines via bicycle, as part of an annual event called Bake ‘n Bike. It’s the tenth anniversary for this annual Valentine’s Day tradition, in which the lovestruck and the lonely alike can send a box of fresh-baked choclate-chip scones and a letter-pressed card to a sweetheart or […]

The music world is buzzing about the understated talent of Angel Olsen. She celebrates the release of her new album, Burn Your Fire for No Witness, at the Southern on Tuesday.

Singer-songwriter Angel Olsen sets her career on fire

After appearing on a pair of reverb-soaked and long sold-out cassettes, Angel Olsen made a proper full-length debut in 2012 with Half Way Home. Simple, confident, clear, and cohesive, it’s an instant classic. The album is an arresting record in the tradition of cult ’70s folk artists like Linda Perhacs—though Olsen’s aesthetic is far closer […]

Charlottesville’s band to watch, Big Air, will unveil its first EP, Buds, at a cassette release party at 
the Southern.

Big Air’s Rob Dobson rises from the ashes of The Fire Tapes

As the line-up of the excellent local rock band The Fire Tapes disintegrated last year, bassist Rob Dobson began looking for a new musical outlet for his songwriting efforts. He found a collaborator in drummer Greg Sloan, who currently holds down the kit for Ha-Rang and Dwight Howard Johnson, and the duo formed Big Air (which […]

Deerhunter’s subversively outrageous frontman Bradford Cox (center) craves the spotlight
but eschews fame.

Deerhunter’s manic dance with praise and punk

Deerhunter’s second album, Cryptograms, made it a household name in indie rock circles. Released in early 2007 by the legendary and long-running Kranky record label, the album features an appealing mix of sprawling and dreamy guitar sounds, anchored by slow-building, bass-heavy grooves and distorted, distantly cool vocals. It sounds almost as if the Atlanta-based quintet […]

Pulp Fiction was discussed ad nausuem within social and intellectual circles upon its release in 1994, but does it stand the test of time as an iconic film?

Two films that had significant impact on current pop culture

If you were a cinephile or an aspiring filmmaker in 1994, the influence of Pulp Fiction was impossible to ignore—especially if you were a 13-year-old boy. Throughout that year, Tarantino’s sophomore effort became more or less gospel in the worlds of independent film and popular culture, which were fast becoming synonymous in the mid-’90s. This endlessly […]

Andrea Kavanagh from Washington, D.C.’s D-CLAW competes as Amy Smackhouse in the lady arm wrestling documentary CLAW. Each wrestler has an entourage that solicits bets from the crowd, exchanging real money for “CLAW bucks,” which eventually benefit a charity. Bribery is encouraged, and the referee’s calls prioritize humor and shenanigans over sporting or fairness.

The CLAW documentary reaches beyond local audiences

When the Charlottesville Lady Arm Wrestlers held its first match in the back room of the Blue Moon Diner in February of 2008, few dreamed it would become a nationwide movement. CLAW began as an all-women’s arm wrestling competition, initiated by Jennifer Tidwell and Jodie Plaisance, in which the stereotype of women as weak is […]

Packard Theater screens samurai classic in Culpeper

Packard Theater screens samurai classic in Culpeper

This Thursday, the Library of Congress provides an opportunity to see a film by one of cinema’s masters, the legendary Akira Kurosawa, on glorious 35mm film. 1962’s Sanjuro is a deeper cut in the Kurosawa catalog; a sequel to the previous years’ acclaimed, beloved, and oft-imitated Yojimbo, in which Toshiro Mifune reprises his role as […]

Patrick Costello’s sculpture (pictured) is composed of discarded plastic floral pieces from memorial flower arrangements. The accompanying print will be distributed, along with others, by Community Bikes from January 17-19.

The Bridge kicks off the year with a multi-faceted group show

Local artist Victoria Long has curated and participated in art shows all over the world since graduating from UVA in 2006. Long returned to Charlottesville in 2011, and while she’s actively made and shown work since then, this month’s “Surprise” marks the first gallery show she’s assembled here in many years. “Surprise” opened on January […]

Kurt Vile’s Walkin’ on a Pretty Daze landed in the top 10 on many critic’s lists in 2013. He played cuts from the album at the Jefferson on July 18.
Image:Tom Daly/Jefferson Theater

Further musings on 2013’s musical offerings

The default opening act for many of 2013’s concerts was the local duo Grand Banks, which sprang back to life in 2013 after several years of infrequent shows. While keyboardist/singer Tyler Magill’s other project Mss. went on hiatus, he and Davis Salisbury rekindled their improvisational ambient noise duo. Where Grand Banks’ material was once abrasive […]

Horsefang reunites for a double bill with Miami Nights at the Main St. Annex. Publicity image.

ARTS Pick: Horsefang and Miami Nights

Metal shows are rare in Charlottesville, but the few that do happen tend to be high-quality. This is due in part to the talents and good taste of the few local metal-heads, and Friday night’s show at the Main Street Annex is an opportunity to catch the two of the best local bands from any […]

The merchandise covers the walls and the tables, and every available inch of space has been decorated with papier mâché trees and Christmas lights at The Bridge PAI’s Gift Forest.

This week finds aliens in the club and gifts in the forest

Throughout last year, I kept hearing the name Guardian Alien. At first I wasn’t at all curious. The band name led me to the assumption that it was “some sort of dubstep or chillwave thing,” and its record sleeve—a watercolor drawing of an alien with dreadlocks, holding a repeating version of the record itself—was easily […]

“Rivanna River Watershed” by artist Kaki Dimock was recently installed along the tracks at the First Street crossing. The Charlottesville Mural Project hopes to produce at least two murals annually.

The Charlottesville Mural Project unveils a tribute to the Rivanna River

On a chilly Friday in late November, Ross McDermott of the Charlottesville Mural Project gathered a large group on the railroad crossing at First Street to dedicate the organization’s newest mural, designed by local artist Kaki Dimock. The mural’s theme is the Rivanna River, a subject originally proposed by Rose Brown of the organization StreamWatch, who […]

Chris Keup has made White Star Sound in Louisa County a creative haven for national acts and local musicians alike. Image:Harrison Buck

White Star Sound offers musicians a full service lift-off

White Star Sound recording studio, located on a bucolic farm in Louisa County, is a friendly, professional spot that attracts national acts like O.A.R. and The Infamous Stringdusters, along with local musicians like Sarah White, The Hill & Wood, and Invisible Hand, as well as several bands that have crossed that divide, like Sons of […]

Nathan Bowles prefers to play “hyper-nuanced percussive drone or tranced-out solo clawhammer banjo” in his solo sets. Image:  Lisa Elmaleh

Nathan Bowles brings his banjo fusion to a dynamic triple bill

To the average listener, traditional Appalachian music has little in common with avant-garde drones and improvisational noise. Nathan Bowles has forged a career in each of these genres. The brilliance of his body of work is the suggestion that these styles share a common aesthetic and inform one another. “They’re both fueled by the same spirit,” […]

Peter Jones is leading the campaign to recreate the Prism Coffeehouse and give Charlottesville a much-needed listening room.

The Prism Coffeehouse is poised to reopen at The Haven

For 40 years, the Prism Coffeehouse was a highly-regarded venue in Charlottesville, and revered by folk and roots music connoisseurs nationwide. Originally located at the corner of Gordon Avenue and Rugby Road, the space could accommodate over 100 people, but it always felt much smaller. I have vague memories of going to concerts there as […]

Beams Release Bugs at the Southern

Beams Release Bugs at the Southern

After four years and three releases, Adam Brock’s Borrowed Beams of Light project has become as well-known to locals as the various bands (most notably the Invisible Hand) for which he’s lent his not-inconsiderable talents as a drummer. In addition to his hammering accuracy behind the kit, Brock also has a crystal-clear singing voice and […]

Ray Harryhausen's 7th Voyage of Sinbad is one of the family-friendly matinee classics playing on November 9. Image: courtesy of VFF

Classic films have a lot to offer at this year’s festival

In recent years the Virginia Film Festival, under the leadership of Jody Kielbasa, has increased the number of new releases, concentrating on up-and-coming filmmakers, local productions, and sneak previews of high-profile independent features destined for wider release over the holiday season. It’s a wise choice for the festival, which has broken attendance records since 2009. […]

Wesley Harris has helped shape the Virginia Film Festival into an attractive forum for major studios to test an intelligent audience.

VFF programmer Wesley Harris stays focused on film integrity

Program and operations manager Wesley Harris has served on the staff of the Virginia Film Festival since 2005. He started as an intern (for this writer) and was promoted to program coordinator while increasingly taking on more of the programming responsibilities. Along the way he helped refine the creative direction as the festival’s goals shifted […]

The stereotype image of the werewolf was defined by Universal Studios’ classic horror film, The Wolf Man starring Lon Chaney, Jr.

Universal Studios set the tone for the icons of horror

In the 1930s and 40s, Universal Studios produced a series of horror films which remain some of the best and most popular examples of the genre. Tod Browning’s Dracula and James Whale’s Frankenstein became the iconic depictions of those characters in the popular imagination, from Dracula’s Hungarian accent, widow’s peak haircut, and cape to the neck-bolts, […]

The Mobile Arts Residency Program enables full participation by the student body at Buford Middle School.  Image: Anna Harrison

Mobile sculptures promote balance at Buford Middle School

On Friday, Buford Middle School held a dedication ceremony for four new permanent artworks installed at the school, made by students as part of the Mobile Arts Residency Program with visiting artist Kevin Reese. The sculptures are hanging mobiles, directly inspired by the work of Alexander Calder; three of them occupy the schools’ stairwells, while […]