Honoring Julian Price: An evening of music, film and tears

A COMMUNITY EFFORT: Last night's event at the Orange Peel involved the collaboration of several organizations and individuals all working together to highlight the life of Julian Price.
A COMMUNITY EFFORT: Last night's event at the Orange Peel involved the collaboration of several organizations and individuals all working together to highlight the life of Julian Price. Photo by Robert Klein

“I’m kind of still in disbelief and really overwhelmed, but in a wonderful way,” says filmmaker Erin Derham. Her documentary, Julian Price: Envisioning Community, Investing in People, premiered last night at the Orange Peel, to a sold out crowd.

The film, which tells the story of Julian Price’s life in Asheville, was joined by live performances from the Asheville Symphony, Free Planet Radio with Lizz Wright, Doc Aquatic and Matt Townsend. (To learn more about the film, symphony and life of Julian Price read Mountain Xpress articles: Man About TownThe Sound of This TownAnonymous.)

“The music was fabulous,” says Meg MacLeod, Price’s wife. “It was beautiful to see the collaboration between the symphony and the local musicians and the excitement that it’s creating across the country.”

Derham recalls goosebumps while she listened to Lizz Wright sing. “I heard her from backstage … and I just got chills. To be in a room with hundreds of people listening to these songs that mean so much to me now — that was one of the best experiences of my life.”

Price’s daughter, Rachel, who both appeared in the film and attended the event, recalls, “It felt pretty surreal to be honest,” she says. “It was kind of an outer body experience, it really was. Like maybe it hasn’t sunk in yet.”

MANY THANKS: Pat Whalen (right), thanks the many individuals involved in the evening's event, including (from left to right), David Whitehill (the Asheville Symphony), Erin Derham (History Boutique Films) and Jessica Tomasin (Echo Mountain)
MANY THANKS: Pat Whalen (right), thanks the many individuals involved in the evening’s event, including (from left to right), David Whitehill (the Asheville Symphony), Erin Derham (History Boutique Films) and Jessica Tomasin (Echo Mountain)

Karen Ramshaw, one of Price’s business partners at Public Interest Projects, experienced her own share of emotionally-charged moments throughout the evening. “I was so touched by the outpouring. When the documentary started, there was just this shift in the room. Everybody got really quiet and everybody was really intent on the film. And somehow, while the documentary was playing, it felt as if we all remembered that we’re in this together. You know, the event was entitled Envisioning Community, but I think what happened during the event last night was that we actually experienced community.”

Ramshaw went on to discuss an encounter that occurred after the film finished. “I started to cry and then the lights came on and there was a young woman in front of me who I didn’t know. She turned around and noticed I was emotional and smiled really sweetly, and I guess she recognized me from the film, and so she turned away. But then she turned around again … and she walked over and gave me this really nice hug.”

The gesture itself meant a great deal to Ramshaw on a personal level, but it also had a way of reinforcing the film’s overall message of community. “One of the things that makes a community great is when we kind of forget about ourselves and look out and say, ‘Wow, how can I contribute? How can I make something better happen?’ This whole event with the symphony and the bands and Echo Mountain and Erin Derham and Robert Klien and the folks from the Julian Price Project community and the Orange Peel — it just felt like everyone came to the table and said, ‘Wow, what can I do to make this better?’ I think that was really the magic of last night. That attitude.”

While there are no scheduled venues set to play the film, Derham and the Julian Price Project committee are in the process of working with local theaters and organizations, in order to get the film’s message out.

“I would love the City Council to watch this,” MacLeod says. “I would love the representatives at North Carolina legislature to watch this and to begin to ask: What is my dream? Because everybody’s got a dream. Everybody wants to find out: What do I really want? Not what I think I should do or what appeals to my ego, but what would really make me happy? And I think that is the potential of what this documentary has. To get people to begin wondering that. That’s what I hope anyway.”

To learn more about the film and for updates about upcoming viewings visit: erinderham.com and facebook.com/julianpriceproject

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About Thomas Calder
Thomas Calder received his MFA in Fiction from the University of Houston's Creative Writing Program. He has worked with several publications, including Gulf Coast and the Collagist. For his weekly #tuesdayhistory tidbits on Asheville, follow him on Instagram @tcalder.

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