The Velvet Underground: What to know before watching

The Velvet Underground created a new sound that changed the world of music, cementing its place as one of rock ’n’ roll’s most revered bands. After its smashing premier in July 2021 at the Cannes Film Festival, Todd Hayes’ documentary, The Velvet Underground, is scheduled for release in theaters and Apple TV on October 15. Whether you are familiar with the group or not, this quick rundown will help refresh your memory or catch you up on The Velvet Underground’s history and influence before watching.

Who is The Velvet Underground?

Formed in New York City in 1964, The Velvet Underground was said to be so influential that those who saw them perform went and started their own bands. Led by singer and guitarist Lou Reed, the violist, bassist, and pianist John Cale, guitarist Sterling Morrison, and drummer Moe Tucker (who replaced original drummer Angus MacLise in 1965), disrupted the world of punk and alternative rock with their avant-garde sound and controversial lyrics, which often explored topics of drug use, sadomasochism, and numbing despair. 

Andy Warhol + Nico

The famous pop artist Andy Warhol became the band’s manager and producer in 1966 after seeing them perform in a Greenwich Village club. The artist’s reputation helped the band gain visibility when he took them on tour for his performance art roadshow, Exploding Plastic Inevitable, combining his films with their music from 1966 to 1967.

Warhol also introduced them to Nico, a German singer, actress, and model who was featured in three songs of their first album, The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967). In 1967, Nico later moved on to a solo career when Reed fired Warhol as the band manager.

The Music

The Velvet Underground’s music was stylistically diverse, rebellious, and characteristically woven with experimental sounds like drones, distortion, and atonal feedback. This new take on rock, now universally recognized and hailed, was initially overlooked with poor album sales and criticism in the industry.

Nonetheless, the band released four albums: The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967), White Light/White Heat (1968), The Velvet Underground (1969), and Loaded (1970).

Relations and Reunions

The Velvet Underground’s pursuit for specific artistic vision yielded little recognition in their time, which resulted in tension within. Cale was replaced by Doug Yule in 1968 after the release White Light/White Heat, and Reed quit in August of 1970. Both Cale and Reed continued on as solo artists. Morrison and Tucker also departed the group shortly after, leaving Yule and The Velvet Underground effectively disbanded. After Morrison’s death in 1995, the three surviving members, Reed, Cale, and Tucker reunited and played for the last time in 1996 for their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The Documentary

Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Todd Haynes, The Velvet Underground shows just how the group became a cultural touchstone representing a range of contradictions: the band is both of their time, yet timeless; literary yet realistic; rooted in high art and street culture. The film features in-depth interviews with the key players of that time combined with a treasure trove of never-before-seen performances and a rich collection of recordings, Warhol films, and other experimental art that creates an immersive experience into what founding member John Cale describes as the band’s creative ethos: “how to be elegant and how to be brutal.” (Apple News)

Cul-de-Sac Kids Make “Ginormous” Gift to The Paramount


On Monday, May 17, The Paramount Theater was honored to welcome a special group of young children – The Cul-de-Sac Kids – who have been making a difference in our community, one pumpkin at a time!

The Cul-de-Sac Kids, a group of motivated local children led by their parents, turned their neighborhood garden into “Penny’s Pumpkin Patch” to raise money for several local non-profit organizations, including The Paramount Theater.

The children chose to name their pumpkin patch in memory of their neighbor and our mutual friend, Penny Bosworth. Penny is special to The Paramount, serving on the Paramount’s Board of Directors and chairing our Arts Education Committee for 15 wonderful years. She loved Halloween and had a well-known (but not spooky!) spirit for giving, and we know that a pumpkin patch with her name on it would have made her incredibly proud.

Kristin Freese, lead parent for the Cul-de-Sac Kids and Penny’s Pumpkin Patch told us, “Penny was an inspiration. We hope our small gesture is a conduit in which her spirit, generosity, and community centric ideals live on!”

Beaming with pride on the Paramount stage, the Cul-de-Sac kids presented us with a “ginormous pumpkin check” for $1,000 that will help support The Paramount’s mission. In receiving the check, Cathy von Storch, Education & Outreach Manager, said:

“We love that you created Penny’s Pumpkin Patch to raise money for several nonprofit organizations that were near and dear to Penny Bosworth. The Paramount is so grateful and humbled to be one of the beneficiaries.  As you know, Penny loved The Paramount Theater. She strongly believed that everyone should have the opportunity to come and experience the best of live performing arts, young and old.  Penny also cared very deeply about making sure that the historic Paramount Theater stayed financially healthy so that it would be here for generations to come.”

Following their presentation and a photo op, the Cul-de-Sac Kids’ were treated to a round of applause from The Paramount staff and a special, VIP backstage tour led by Cathy.

Thank you, Cul-de-Sac kids! We truly appreciate your hard work and dedication to the community!

Visit us at to learn how you can help support The Paramount, too.

CBS19 News Local Business Spotlight

A huge thank you to the Virginia National Bank for highlighting The Paramount through CBS19 NEWS‘ local business spotlight! We are so thankful for both of these amazing organizations for supporting our historic nonprofit Theater. To see the full video spotlight, click on the image below!

It’s a Girl!


We were thrilled to be a part of this special moment. Congratulations to these soon-to-be parents!

Destinations Travel Show Interview with Kurt Burkhart

Last month The Paramount Theater’s Director of Marketing, Maran Garland, was invited on the Destinations Talk Radio Show to talk about how The Paramount has maneuvered through the pandemic continuing to keep her doors open for the Charlottesville Community! This show also features David Holder (the guest host), CEO of Clarity of Place, Cynthia Eichler, President & CEO for Visit Fort Collins (CO), and Tripadvisor’s Steve Paganelli. To listen to the full show, CLICK HERE.


Thank you CBS19 News: Charlottesville News First for talking to our Director of Marketing, Maran Garland, about some of our upcoming events in February, including our inaugural Live From The Paramount event, Barcelona, Spain! Click here to read our blog post recapping the Barcelona event.

To watch the full February 5 interview, click on the image below.


To watch the full February 19 interview, which also mentions some of the fun events coming to the Big Screen in March, click on the image below.

We Gave ’em Something to Tapas-bout! Live From The Paramount – Barcelona, Spain! Recap

What a way to kick off this exciting new series! Around 200 participants signed in to travel through Barcelona with Mark Hahn, President of Harvest Moon Catering; Tomas Rahal, former chef at MasTapas, and current owner of Quality Pie; and David Gies, Professor of Spanish at the University of Virginia.

If you or a friend could not tune in live, click below to watch the entire live-streamed event!

We highly recommend you pay Chef Tomas a visit at Quality Pie for some delicious food! As a reminder, the $100 wine package deal is still available for purchase through Sunday, March 7 at Quality Pie. These wines will include Castell d’Age Cava “Anne Marie” Reserva Brut Nature 2017. Penedes, Cataluntya, Spain; Celler Jordi Llorens Trepat 2018. Conca de Barbera, Catalunya, Spain; and Primitivo Quiles Vermut Rojo 1 Liter. Alicante, Spain. This package deal can be purchased at Quality Pie Tuesday-Saturday from 8AM-3PM or through Quality Pie’s online store. Please note, this wine package is a separate purchase through Quality Pie. You cannot purchase through The Paramount. CLICK HERE to purchase.

In addition, Harvest Moon Catering is a great option if you are looking for a caterer! Currently, they are offering a special St. Patrick’s Day menu that looks delicious (homemade chocolate stout cupcakes anyone?!) CLICK HERE to order. For more information on Harvest Moon Catering and its offerings, CLICK HERE.
Thank you to everyone who reached out letting us know how much you enjoyed Sunday’s event! We love hearing from our participants and getting feedback. Below are just a few of the responses:

  • We thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing, except we see a big need for Smellevision. It must have smelled divine, but we had to imagine that part. What a super mini-vacation for us! Thanks for the invitation.”
  • Yesterday’s Paramount event was so fun! You are a master at these talks, great graphics! This encouraged me to give Tomas and Quality Pie a visit. Muchas gracias!
  • David, you did an excellent job of introducing politics, history, architecture and cuisine in a short amount of time and making it very colorful and engaging. It stirred my interest to learn more and I’m ready for a trip to the region!
  • Tomas, I “soaked up” your lessons regarding paella and its preparation, just like the rice soaks up the liquids in the dish! Also, the background and tips for preparing Spanish tortilla were helpful. Not that I will probably make it much at home because yours is excellent. I tasted lots of variations in Spain and don’t remember any of them being nearly as good.”

We had so much fun exploring Spain this past Sunday and hope you did as well! Have an idea for our next digital excursion? Let us know your suggestions for the next “Live From The Paramount” event by emailing us at

Thank you to Rob Garland Photographers for these lovely images.

Sangria Recipe:

Two Bottles of dry red wine (any non-vintagetable wine or varietal will work, such as: Tempranillo, Garnacha, Gamay, Bobal, Mazuela, Graciano)
1 cup Spanish Vermouth
1 cup Brandy (E&J is fine)
1 cup white sugar
2 apples sliced
2 oranges sliced

Directions: Take sliced fruit, add sugar, vermouth, and brandy and let soak overnight. Add wine and stir well. Serve over ice in a tall rocks glass with fruit garnish.