Cinémathèque was formed in Roanoke, Virginia in 2011. Since its founding, the goal of the band has been to provide an outlet for producing and performing a wide array of cinematic music. Niche genres, especially surf rock, exotica, spaghetti westerns, afrobeat, and Ethiopian jazz, serve as the band’s main influences.
In its early years, the band’s lineup was a revolving door, but always hinged on founder and guitarist Ben Hudson. Early band formations played at clubs, DIY spaces, and special events in Southwest Virginia, as well as out-of-state festivals. The live sound featured spring-verbed guitar leads shadowed by eerie organs reminiscent of Italian and French thriller and horror films of the 1960s and 70’s. These cinematic roots culminated in the production of recordings for small scores, short films, and commercials.
In 2018, a renewed focus on live performances with an expanded lineup led to a remarkable reincarnation that highlighted the strength of the band’s repertoire as dance music. The current band consists of musicians from rock, jazz, latin, and classical backgrounds. This diversity enables powerful solo and arrangement opportunities in live settings. In addition to brewery and club shows, Cinémathèque has played many festivals and special events, including Kirk Fest 2019, RIOT Rooster 2019 (at The Virginia Transportation Museum), Roanoke Arts Pop! 2022 (presented by the Jefferson Center), Steppin’ Out 2022 in Blacksburg, and Forkapalooza 2023.
The core 2023 lineup is Ben Hudson (guitar), John Pence (keys and guitar), Sam Lunsford (drums), Max Lee (bass), Jonathan Falls (trumpet and flügelhorn), Brandon Rhinehart (bari sax), Kyle Hutchins (tenor sax), Vladimir Espinosa (congas), and Austin Grasty (congas and aux percussion). The band also expands with other talented musicians, such as Willis Greenstreet (sax and flute), Adam Baber (drums), Noah Galbreath (sax), and Joel Stopka (trombone).