Adam Ewing photo
The selectors said: Wilson is a legend in Richmond musical circles on many levels. He has performed for more than 40 years in the area, even appearing with the Richmond Symphony. He also founded one of the most beloved radio shows in the region, Out o' the Blue Radio Revue, produced a similarly named print publication, wrote a top contender for the state song and has dedicated thousands of hours to regional charities.
"I'm a professional juggler," Page Wilson says in his honey-on-gravel voice. "I juggle professions."
At various times during his career, he's been a singer-songwriter — "My first album went concrete, the second went lead" — hitchhiking troubadour, festival organizer, promoter and booking agent, a "views paper" publisher, and, most prominently, a radio personality.
"Blame it on Wilson's Texaco," he chuckles, referring to this father's Mechanicsville service station. "It's his fault that I'm self-employed. He was all his life. My two brothers and I grew up working. We didn't have baby-sitters or day care; it was, ‘Go to the station with your dad.' "
Wilson's mother played the piano and sang in the Northside Baptist Church choir. The church's musician, Barbara Cole, encouraged his singing.
Wilson's father bought him an inexpensive starter instrument — "The E-string wasn't even on the neck" — and a package of lessons from a practitioner on Broad Street. "So this shyster was trying to teach me how to play on this impossible guitar. If Dad had foreseen that I'd be making a living on the guitar, he might've [put more] thought [into] the deal."
Wilson traveled the country, playing in bars and on boardwalks. While in Key West, Fla., he encountered Reckless Abandon. He played with them and brought the name to Richmond in the early 1990s. The band, through varied configurations, sticks to a few rules: Don't play wrong notes; when in doubt, make no noise at all; and rehearsal is for amateurs.
Since 1988, with a few breaks, Wilson's Out o' the Blue Radio Revue, with its "purebred American mongrel music," has broadcast "from the Chickahominy Swamp" on various Richmond stations. Since 1996, it has aired Saturdays from 8 to 10 p.m. on WCVE FM.
These days, he's busy assisting with festival planning, including the Richmond Folk Festival. He's also turning his yarn-spinning skills into book form: Good Dog Kate is a true story about his uncle's English setter who shadowed the young Wilson during walks in the woods and kept him from getting lost. Road Dogs — "of which I'm one" — tells the story of his vagabond musician life.
Like when he went skinny-dipping in Jerry Jeff Walker's swimming pool with a blonde from Memphis, Tenn. But that's a tale for another time.