We’d like to share a lovingly prepared Spotify playlist created by our friend Gene Raney, to mark the debut of our Page’s Kitchen radio documentary on VPM Music. We first met Gene and his wife Dale as fellow artist hosts for the Richmond Folk Festival since year one. Gene’s life is completely soaked in music across many genres and the depth and detail of his knowledge are impressive. During the pandemic, he posted near daily playlists entitled the Corona Shake to underscore musically the challenges we were living through as individuals and as the community of man. As the pandemic impact has begun to lighten, his posts have become less frequent, and we’re flattered that he would see fit to create another of his compelling soundtracks to help us better enjoy the live performances to come on the 8-week Page’s Kitchen series. Here’s the link to the Spotify playlist, followed by Gene’s masterful setup:

Here’s the story …

In the late 1980’s, a Richmond area musician named Page Wilson began hosting a radio show called “Out o’ the Blue Radio Revue,” which aired at 8 p.m. on Saturday nights. It was such a breath of fresh air, and it was mandatory listening at our house whenever we were home. Page played an exhilarating blend of roots music— country, blues, folk, rock and roll, bluegrass, zydeco, and a whole lot of songs that couldn’t be pigeonholed into a single genre. Page had a name for the music featured on his show. He called it “Purebred American Mongrel Music.” It was basically Americana, although at the time I hadn’t heard anyone use that term to describe music. To me, Page’s name was better.

The Out o’ the Blue Radio Revue was folksy — when we listened to it, we felt like we were hanging out with an old friend. One highlight of the show was a recurring segment in which Page would invite musicians to visit him in his kitchen, where he would feed and interview them, and have them play a couple of tunes. In reality, the kitchen was a local recording studio, the food was catered, and the interview and music were priceless. 

In the beginning, it wasn’t easy to attract musical guests to visit Page’s kitchen. They didn’t know Page or his show, and they weren’t sure of what they would be getting into. Musician after musician turned the invitation down.

Finally, Delbert McClinton’s manager accepted the pitch, and the Texas singer/songwriter/harmonica genius was featured in Page’s initial kitchen segment. This was huge. Delbert was a well-known, successful musician. After he visited the kitchen, it became a lot easier for Page and his team to book guests.

The Out o’ the Blue Radio Revue ran for about 20 years, although it changed radio stations a couple of times, and I think there was a break or two when the show was between homes. It eventually landed at Richmond’s public radio station, where it stayed until Page’s death in 2011.

Page was a man of the people, and his death was a real blow to Richmond. He was committed to helping people in need. He did a lot for music around here, both by playing and helping other musicians. Before he began the radio show, he published his own paper, which I think also had “Out o’ the Blue” in its title. If you were an aspiring writer with something to say, you had a chance of being published by Page. Of course, the end of the radio show was like losing an old friend. I can remember hoping fervently that old episodes would be re-aired. Sadly, it never happened.

But … starting this Saturday, the next best thing will happen.

A while back, Tim Timberlake, a retired radio professional who spends a lot of his time on various music-centric projects, was handed the remaining tapes from Page’s kitchen sessions and given permission from Page’s daughter to feature them in a new radio series. They were old and deteriorating, so they had to be stabilized and digitalized. Tim enlisted a broadcast engineer to bake the tapes (literally — at a relatively low temperature for a relatively long time), a technique that, when executed properly, restores tapes to the point where they can be played at least one more time so that they can be digitally recorded. The baking worked.

Tim then had to reach out to the artists or their surviving heirs to get permission to broadcast the tapes. Every single one of them agreed. Honestly, I was a little surprised to hear that, but it appears to be because all of the artists enjoyed their kitchen experience, and maybe also because these tapes are rare records of a long-gone time.

Each episode will air twice on its assigned Saturday, at 12 noon and again at 8 p.m., on VPM Music terrestrially at 93.1 and 107.3 FM. Each episode will also stream live at https://vpm.org/listen/stream?channel=music

The eight-episode series

This eight-episode series features 11 incredible artists/groups:

Delbert McClinton (Appears on May 29th broadcast) — Famously known for giving John Lennon, at Lennon’s request, a harmonica lesson in the early 1960’s. Subsequent to his appearance on Page’s show, he’s won four Grammys. I love his version of Otis Redding’s “I’ve Got Dreams to Remember.”

Indigo Girls (Appear on May 29th broadcast) — Love this band. Beautiful songwriting, beautiful performances. Amy Ray and Emily Saliers combined their somewhat disparate musical tastes to create a duo with more stylistic range than one might expect. They visited the kitchen while touring in support of an album that would win a Grammy a few months later.

Tim & Mollie O’Brien (Appear on June 5th broadcast) — Tim is a singer and multi-instrumentalist who helped found the progressive bluegrass band Hot Rize. His sister Mollie is a singer whose credits included regular appearances on A Prairie Home Companion. When they record or perform together, the results are beautiful. You just can’t beat sibling harmonies.

Cephas & Wiggins (Appear on June 12th broadcast) — John Cephas and Phil Wiggins performed Piedmont Blues as a duo for over 30 years, until John died in 2009. John was an outstanding Piedmont guitarist, and a great guy who loved to educate his audiences. At every show I attended, he would patiently explain and demonstrate the difference between Piedmont and Delta Blues. Phil is another great guy, and one of the finest harmonica players that I’ve ever seen.  Both John and Phil are recipients of the National Heritage Fellowship, the United States’ highest honor for folk and traditional artists. I was fortunate enough to see Cephas & Wiggins a lot, and if you ever saw them, you know how wonderful that was.

Tony Rice Unit (Appears on June 26th broadcast) — Bluegrass royalty. Tony Rice was one of the greatest acoustic guitarists ever, and a tremendous bluegrass vocalist. This kitchen session was recorded in 1991, one of the two years that the Tony Rice Unit won the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) “Instrumental Group of the Year” award. This was also one of six years when Tony Rice won the IBMA “Guitar Player of the Year” award. In addition to Tony, The Tony Rice Unit consisted of Tony’s brother Wyatt Rice, Jimmy Gaudreau, Rickie Simpkins, and Ronnie Simpkins. Sammy Shelor also sat in on this session, and he has won the IBMA “Banjo Player of the Year” award five times.

Marcia Ball (Appears on July 3rd broadcast) — Texas singer/songwriter/pianist noted for her ability to play in Professor Longhair’s style. I think I’ve seen her more than any other performer on this list, and in my experience she’s an excellent musician and a kind person. To me, her version of Randy Newman’s “Louisiana 1927” surpasses any others. I recall that after Hurricane Katrina decimated New Orleans, Marcia raised her merch prices on tour and donated the difference to hurricane relief efforts. She performed this song on stage to encourage fans to help if they could.

C.J. Chenier (Appears on July 3rd broadcast) — Zydeco musician; and son of the legendary Clifton Chenier. C.J.’s kitchen recording took place soon after he played accordion on Paul Simon’s “Rhythm of the Saints” album and about a year before he was a featured headliner on an episode of “Austin City Limits.”

J.J. Cale (Appears on July 10th broadcast) — Singer/songwriter/guitarist/multi-instrumentalist. Innovative musician who employed a distinctive laid-back style. He wrote a ton of great songs, including “After Midnight,” “Cocaine,” and “Call Me the Breeze.” In 2005, Eric Clapton and Cale recorded an album together (The Road to Escondido). I think this booking was a major accomplishment for Page—I don’t think J.J. Cale played a lot of live shows around the time of his kitchen appearance.

Mary Chapin Carpenter (Appears on July 17th broadcast) — Singer/songwriter/guitarist. She was well on her way to a very successful career when she visited the kitchen in 1990, just three months before her album “Shooting Straight in the Dark” was released. It’s song “Down at the Twist and Shout” eventually earned her the first of five Grammys.

Robert Earl Keen, Jr. (Appears on July 24th broadcast) — Gifted singer/songwriter from Texas with an avid cult following. For my money, he’s an exceptional songwriter, equally capable of creating songs with deceptively simple or elaborately complex lyrics.

Townes Van Zandt (Appears on July 24th broadcast) — Arguably the most gifted singer/songwriter ever from Texas, and if Steve Earle is correct, the greatest songwriter ever. Here’s what Steve famously said, “Townes Van Zandt is the best songwriter in the whole world and I’ll stand on Bob Dylan’s coffee table in my cowboy boots and say that.” Reportedly, Townes Van Zandt responded by saying, “I’ve met Bob Dylan’s bodyguards, and if Steve Earle thinks he can stand on Bob Dylan’s coffee table, he’s sadly mistaken,” 

About the Playlist

Today’s playlist features four songs by each of the artists/groups who will be featured in JAMinc’s eight-show series, as well as two bonus tracks by Page Wilson and his band. I hope you like it; it was truly a labor of love. As I said previously, please feel free to share it with anyone who you think will like it.

Aftershock Shake 11 (Out o’ the Blue Too)
  1. Two More Bottles of Wine–Delbert McClinton
  2. Giving It up for Your Love–Delbert McClinton
  3. Everytime I Roll the Dice–Delbert McClinton
  4. I’ve Got Dreams to Remember–Delbert McClinton
  5. Least Complicated–Indigo Girls 
  6. Share the Moon–Indigo Girls
  7. Closer to Fine–Indigo Girls
  8. Hammer and a Nail–Indigo Girls
  9. Just Someone I Used to Know–Tim & Mollie O’Brien
  10. Away Out on a Mountain–Tim & Mollie O’Brien
  11. If I Had My Way–Tim & Mollie O’Brien
  12. Stagger Lee–Tim & Mollie O’Brien
  13. Stack and the Devil–Cephas & Wiggins
  14. Darling Cora–Cephas & Wiggins
  15. Richmond Blues–Cephas & Wiggins
  16. Bowling Green Strut–Cephas & Wiggins
  17. Jerusalem Ridge–Tony Rice Unit
  18. Blue Railroad Train–Tony Rice Unit
  19. Nine Pound Hammer–Tony Rice Unit
  20. Birdland Breakdown–Tony Rice Unit
  21. Fingernails–Marcia Ball
  22. How You Carry On–Marcia Ball
  23. That’s Enough of That Stuff–Marcia Ball
  24. Louisiana 1927–Marcia Ball
  25. Everybody Needs a Little Monkey Business–C.J. Chenier
  26. Don’t You Just Know It–C.J. Chenier
  27. Man Smart, Woman Smarter–C.J. Chenier
  28. Blue Flame Blues–C.J. Chenier
  29. Sensitive Kind–J.J. Cale
  30. Magnolia–J.J. Cale
  31. Crazy Mama–J.J. Cale
  32. After Midnight–J.J. Cale
  33. Sometimes Just the Sky–Mary Chapin Carpenter
  34. Rhythm of the Blues–Mary Chapin Carpenter
  35. I Take My Chances–Mary Chapin Carpenter
  36. Down at the Twist and Shout–Mary Chapin Carpenter
  37. Feelin’ Good Again–Robert Earl Keen
  38. What I Really Mean–Robert Earl Keen
  39. Walkin’ Cane–Robert Earl Keen
  40. The Road Goes on Forever–Robert Earl Keen
  41. Pancho and Lefty–Townes Van Zandt
  42. If I Needed You–Townes Van Zandt
  43. Lungs–Townes Van Zandt
  44. To Live Is to Fly–Townes Van Zandt
  45. Richmond Blues–Page Wilson with Reckless Abandon
  46. Virginia–Page Wilson with Reckless Abandon

Here’s the link to the Spotify playlist again: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/4XuPWv9JM4SNZJVjU1XVWH?si=a0dc5316ae6c4948