When Patrick, Paul and Mark Wilson formed the family cover band Van Wilson, they did it for two reasons: They love to jam together, and they want to use their musical talents to raise money for charitable causes.
"I rarely get to spend time with my family (here)," said Patrick Wilson, a Tampa-area native and well-known actor. "We all have our own lives, but this is a great common ground for us. (Music) is an obsession for us. And if we can raise money for a good charity, then that's really great."
The Wilson brothers will do both Saturday when they headline a concert to raise money for veterans.
The performance is a benefit for Southeastern Guide Dogs' Paws for Patriots program. The organization trains guide dogs for visually impaired veterans. The average cost of training one dog is $60,000, and the program relies solely on community donations, said Michael Jernigan, the group's community outreach coordinator.
The show will include performances by Eric Kallal, a blind soldier who is a beneficiary of the Paws for Patriots programs, the John Kelly Band and a "few other surprises."
Patrick Wilson, a Tony-nominated Broadway, movie and television actor, who most recently starred in the CBS drama "A Gifted Man," and brothers Mark Wilson, a Fox 13 news anchor, and Paul Wilson, owner of WilsonMedia, formed Van Wilson in 2009, after performing Van Halen songs at Mark Wilson's 40th birthday.
"We wanted to do something for Mark's birthday," Paul Wilson said. "(Mark) can play all of the Van Halen songs from beginning to end on his guitar. Next thing you know, I get a song sheet from Patrick on music we should learn. We did it. And it went off surprisingly well."
Van Wilson patterns itself on the 1980s rock band Van Halen, hence the name, because they cover most of the group's songs. Van Halen also was their favorite group growing up here. Van Wilson also plays tunes from Journey, Bon Jovi and the Zac Brown Band.
In Van Wilson, Patrick plays drums, Paul sings lead vocals and Mark plays guitar. The group also includes actor-singer Matt Stocke and a few other friends.
The musically inclined siblings say Van Wilson is a natural extension for them because their parents instilled a love of music in them early in life. Their father is Fox 13 news anchor John Wilson, and mom, Mary Kay, is a singer and voice coach.
"Mom always played the piano, and we grew up singing in the choir, so rhythm was always in us," Paul Wilson said. "While some people say music is a gift, for us, it's a responsibility, because we grew up with it."
Are their any egos on stage?
"No, just volume," Paul Wilson said with a laugh. "Mark's amp can be really loud sometimes."
Despite their busy careers, the Wilson brothers try to make time to perform at local benefits at least once or twice a year, said Patrick Wilson.
And while they don't have a lot of time to rehearse, they still can rock the crowd. They've raised more than $10,000 for local charities.
"The fact that we play cohesively with such limited time to practice, really says a lot," Patrick Wilson said. "We have a lot of raw talent. I think we're a good band that's getting a lot better. We just want to keep moving forward, keep having fun and doing good things."
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: The State Theatre, 687 Central Ave., downtown St. Petersburg