A day in the life of a local wannabe rock star

Members of Van Wilson, from left: Mark Wilson, Chuck Tillman, Paul Wilson, Bill Malik, Patrick Wilson

Photo by Tom Overby

Members of Van Wilson, from left: Mark Wilson, Chuck Tillman, Paul Wilson, Bill Malik, Patrick Wilson

In keeping with our List Issue, we wondered what it might be like to see the to-do list of someone really busy. Who better than Paul Wilson, the local advertising impresario behind the 1-800-Ask-Gary campaigns, among others? On Dec. 30, he played an All Children's Hospital benefit at the Local 662 in Van Wilson, a mostly Van Halen cover band made up of Paul and his famous brothers, Mark Wilson of WTVT-Ch. 13 and Patrick Wilson, the movie star. We asked him to keep a log of his day.

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5:45 a.m. Eyes open. It's David Lee Roth. While some prefer an intrusive alert to start their day, I move to the primal scream of Diamond Dave circa 1983. My alarm is the vocal track to Jump. It's kismet for this Van Halen fan. That first bellowing howl could wake the dead, hence its utility for me.

6:12 a.m. Coffee, black, gets poured, and on the floor I go for 150 crunches.

10:15 a.m. I arrive at the agency about 10 a.m. A few errands eclipse my normal 6:30 a.m. arrival. Salvation Army had the goods. I found a Carolina blue blazer that appears to have been absconded from the set of Caddyshack, with an equally proud necktie. They were costume pieces for a television shoot. My agency, Wilson Media, is a full-service advertising agency. Small but mighty, some would say. Just ask Gary, one of our clients. The wardrobe was for a 1-800-Ask-Gary television commercial. We had three commercials for 1-800-Ask-Gary to shoot before downbeat at the Local 662.

1:15 p.m. My brother Mark arrives at the agency between setups — industry jargon for moving camera and lights. He's on a mission to retrieve microphone stands and some cables for what would be our third "performance" of Van Wilson. Karen, my partner and media director, and Sue Nance, art director, production designer and all-around conduit for all things creative, tolerated Van Wilson "practice" the day before. (NOTE: We practiced a few opens and closes for songs with drummer Tom Overby. I listened and howled a little in the microphone. Then we jammed to some Zeppelin. We didn't have Zeppelin on the song sheet that night. That's how we practice.) Tom sets up his drums in my studio. He's joined by bassist Bill Malik, Chuck Tillman on rhythm guitar and Mark on the custom guitar he built from scratch. Youngest brother Patrick arrives to my parents' home from New York City. Dodging stranded travelers in LaGuardia, he was able to get out of the snowy Big Apple and fly with his family home to rock the Local 662. Now we have our Alex Van Halen. The circle is complete.

3 p.m. Mark, Patrick and the other bandmates begin setup at the venue. I'm still directing the second Ask Gary television commercial at BayWalk, in the empty restaurant formerly known as Grille 121. Dr. Gary is in the house. He's fun on a TV shoot. He's fun all the time.

5:55 p.m. I glance at my Panerai watch while the crew moves the camera to get a reverse angle. A few blocks away, a soundcheck begins at Local 662. It must be swell.

7:15 p.m. Dr. Gary takes the con, a reference to handing the power of control off when the captain leaves his duty. I have to get ready to rock. Dr. Gary provides artistic input and a lot of humor, sharing directing duties for the last few set-ups with my Wilson Media creative cohort and co-director, Declan Flynn.

7:42 p.m. Patrick texts me regarding my arrival. I was stretching, about the only practice I get for the show. Typical.

8:15 p.m. I arrive. The group is holed-up across the street at Rhino Studios, thanks to Cliff Gephardt and his gang. They welcome us with some adult beverages and much needed quiet time. My brothers, my parents, my cousin Melanie, who would share the stage with us, and some of our posse fresh off the Ask Gary shoot roll in shortly thereafter. Photographer Carol Gallagher and drummer Tom Overby, a pro photographer himself, snap off some shots in the studio.

8:40 p.m. We observe the crowd at the door of the Local 662 from our perch across the street. The joint is jumping. Some are turned away, sadly. Only so much space.

9 p.m. Bobby Van Sweeden, my chum from high school days, and former security manager for bands like Megadeth, Extreme and Def Leppard drives us in his Tahoe to the stage door. The entire band vacates his vehicle and arrives ready to rock the house.

9:15 p.m. We hit the stage, and it begins — rock's equivalent of the unicorn. Van Wilson, for the third time. No soundcheck, no rehearsal and by about 9:20 p.m., no shirt. I should have done more crunches. And stretching.

11:15 p.m. We are exhausted and finally wrap up our show with Jump and Can't You See. When it's all said and done, we raise some hell and about $3,000 for All Children's Hospital.

A day in the life of a local wannabe rock star 01/06/11 [Last modified: Thursday, January 6, 2011 5:27pm]

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