Alex GranadosCommentary

Granados: Checking in with North Raleigh artists

CommentaryFebruary 24, 2014 

Anyone who follows my columns knows I have eclectic interests, but that they skew artsy. So, I thought I would check back in with a few of my more artistically inclined subjects to see how they were doing. The two I speak of are Michael Jasper and Evan Kidd, both from the North Raleigh/Wake Forest area.

Jasper was a man skeptical of the traditional publishing system, who struck out on his own and started publishing his own novels with some success. He is a technical writer by day, fiction writer by night — like many of the artistic superheroes in my columns.

He puts out his novels under the publishing name UnWrecked Press, and he recently decided that it was time to expand that name to include more authors.

"I have a couple of friends who I have from grad school, and I wanted them to start writing more,” he said. “I thought maybe that would encourage them to start writing more."

So he’s opened his doors to other writers. I confess, I submitted one of my crazy stories for his consideration and he found it lacking, but that is the name of the publishing game, and it’s actually an example of what will set him apart from some of the upstarts in the indy publishing world.

“You know, it all comes back to the quality of the writing,” he said. “What kinds of stories you’re telling.”

He’s picky, and that’s good, because one of the arguments traditional publishers make about the indy world is that there are no curators. But that is simply not true. Jasper is one of them.

He deals in speculative fiction – that is: sci-fi, horror, fantasy and all sorts of other odd-ball stuff. Check him out at http://unwreckedpress.com/

The other name from the past we are visiting, Kidd, is now a Greenville-based filmmaker. Greenville because he goes to college there – ECU. Filmmaker because he put together a documentary about a crazy music festival held in the area called Spazz Fest.

The documentary, “Spazz Out!” was available online as of last summer, but it hasn’t had its official premier until now. It’s going up on the big screen Tuesdat in Greenville.

“It’s almost been a year since we’ve been shooting the film, so it’s almost an anniversary,” Kidd said.

Lest you think it weird that Greenville would be the site of a music doc, keep in mind that the area is a well-kept musical secret, with bands like The Avett Brothers and Future Islands coming out of the college.

Spazz Fest has grown in popularity every year since it began in a small living room, and it’s coming up on its fifth annual event on March 20th. That means some off the revelers are coming back to town, and some of them were featured in the film. That’s one reason Kidd waited until now to show the film off.

“I think the big part now is just getting all the players together,” he said. “It’s one of those things, you want to do it right.”

If you’re in the Greenville area and want to check it out, head over to Hendrix Theatre on ECU’s campus on Tuesday. Or, just watch the movie online if that’s too far to drive: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-qblUsLsUE

These are just a couple of the many and varied people I’ve written about in North Raleigh. Of course, these are two who have moved on – Kidd to Greenville and Jasper to Blowing Rock – but their art is still part of our community, along with the local theater groups, musicians, comedians, magicians and more.

I know, for me, it took moving away from North Raleigh to start appreciating just how great it could be. I hope I’m able to give you the same appreciation in my little vignettes every Sunday in the North Raleigh News.

Alex Granados writes about interesting people, places and traditions in North Raleigh and beyond. Contact him via email at agranadoster@gmail.com.

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