More than three decades ago, Bill Paige joined a music class called “The Band Band,” at Chicago’s famed Old Town School of Folk Music.
That seemed a good place to start, as he originally learned to play guitar strumming along to The Band’s Music from Big Pink. In so doing he embarked on the latest phase of a musical journey that had started many years before – at the keys of a typewriter.
A professional writer and editor, Paige’s first byline appeared in 1975 in the Illinois Entertainer, a venerable Chicago music publication. For more than 15 years, the Entertainer, as well as United Press International, Billboard, Performance, Creem, Chicago Sun-Times, among others, published scores of his reviews, articles, and interviews with rock legends including Roy Orbison, Grace Slick, Roger Daltry, Lindsey Buckingham, Debbie Harry, Peter Gabriel, Electric Light Orchestra, and Queen.
The stories have been collected in Paige’s memoir, Everything I Know I Learned From Rock Stars.
Paige’s music industry experience was not limited to journalism, however. In the mid-1970s he worked for A&M Records, providing promotional and tour support throughout the Midwest for Carole King, Peter Frampton, Supertramp, and many other label stars. Two decades later he helped support the IPO and cutting-edge online music technology of Platinum Entertainment, working with legends including Dionne Warwick, Juice Newton, Kansas, and – imagine! – The Band.
Paige continued to take performance and songwriting classes with acclaimed OTSFM instructors Steve Levitt, Steve Dawson, Jimmy Tomasello, and Arlo Leach. He also performed in many concerts organized by the school, starting in 2001 with an anniversary celebration of The Band’s The Last Waltz, and continuing with “artist tributes” featuring the song catalogs of Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Bob Marley, the Rolling Stones, Johnny Cash, Steve Goodman, and Phil Ochs, among many others.
The album, With Friends Like These, features two of Paige’s originals (“Where I’m Likely To Find It,” “Rainy Street”) and eight additional tracks ranging from traditional (“I Know You Rider”) and Depression-era pop (“Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?”) to songs by Gram Parsons and Robbie Robertson.
Other musical adventures include performing live with Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy; workshops with Bill Kirchen at Fur Peace Ranch; acting and playing mandolin for an intimate production of Fiddler on the Roof; and appearing in the video for “Prosperity,” by Chicago hip-hop artist Rhymefest.
After living in central Texas for nearly a decade, performing at various venues in the Austin area, Paige relocated to Thailand in January 2018, and has since performed in and around the Royal Coast city of Hua Hin, occasionally as part of the Beatles tribute band, Magical Mystery, and most recently with the bands Deep Dive and Josephmooon.
Music is a river, and the river rolls on . . .