Matt Wilson & His Orchestra

There are a few Matt Wilsons out there making music. I'm the one from Minneapolis. Some people know me from the bands Trip Shakespeare or the Twilight Hours. I've been writing music non-stop since I was a boy. Nowadays I record with a harp, banjo and electric bass combo that I have come to call an orchestra. Phala Tracy sings and plays the harp. Quillan Roe of the Roe Family Singers sings and plays banjo with an amazing groove. And Jacques Wait, a top guitar player in Minneapolis, makes everything huge with his bass stylings.

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When I was a Writer- Matt Wilson & his Orchestra

Matt Wilson & his Orchestra

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Matt Wilson of Minneapolis is best known as a singer and songwriter for Trip Shakespeare, a band that blossomed in the 90s. But his new group which he calls an Orchestra is making waves both because of its appealing sound built around a unique combination of instruments including harp and banjo, and because Matt’s songwriting is as inspiring as ever.

Raised in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, Matt and his high school friends formed a group called The Panic, and spent much of their youth as under-aged performers in Minneapolis nightclubs such as 1st Avenue and 7th Street Entry. In the early 80s, Matt followed his brother Dan to college in Boston where they formed a number of bands including the Love Monsters in which Matt took his first turn as a front man. Returning to Minneapolis, the brothers joined forces with bass player John Munson to form Trip Shakespeare, touring and recording together for a decade.

Matt’s music has been featured on MTV, Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, Spin, The Toronto Star and many other publications. Trip Shakespeare’s single, “Toolmaster of Brainerd”, was named by City Pages one of Minnesota’s 50 Greatest Hits, and that group was included by nationally-influential radio station The Current in its 2017 list of 893 Most Essential Musical Artists of All Time.

Matt’s new orchestra has a grassy sound that’s easy to fall into. Most striking to both the eye and ear is the harp mastery of Phala Tracy. The band’s sound is underpinned by the propulsive banjo groove of Quillan Roe. The bright sounds of harp and banjo are sent forth on black road of electric bass paved by Minneapolis guitar wizard Jacques Wait. The group sings together in striking close harmony. Their new album, When I was a Writer, represents not only a new and appealing sound but a 10-track songwriting triumph of melody, rhyme and pure emotion.

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Matt Wilson and His Orchestra - Under The Canopy: An Urban Outdoor Summer Concert Series

The Hook and Ladder Theater, 3010 Minnehaha Ave, Minneapolis, MN

Summit Brewing, Jack Daniels, Slane Irish Whiskey, The Hive & Nobool Presents: Matt Wilson & His Orchestra, with guest TBA Friday, August 6

Under The Canopy at The Hook and Ladder Theater "An Urban Outdoor Summer Concert Series" Doors 6:00pm :: Music 7:00pm :: 21+ Tickets: $25-$36* Reserved Seats/Pods of 2, 4, & 6 * Does not include Fees Must purchase the entire pod of seats

RAIN or SHINE NO REFUNDS

$25-$36

Sep24

Matt Wilson & His Orchestra "When I was a writer" Album Release w/Special Guests The Starfolk

The Parkway Theater, 4814 Chicago Ave, Minneapolis, MN

THE PARKWAY IS PLEASED TO (FINALLY!) CELEBRATE "WHEN I WAS A WRITER," THE FULL-LENGTH DEBUT ALBUM FROM FORMER TRIP SHAKESPEARE LEADER MATT WILSON'S LATEST PROJECT, MATT WILSON & HIS ORCHESTRA. THIS VERY SPECIAL EVENING BEGINS WITH A SET FROM MINNEAPOLIS CHAMBER POP ENSEMBLE, THE STARFOLK.

Legendary Minneapolis singer and songwriter Matt Wilson (Trip Shakespeare, The Twilight Hours) and his stellar ensemble present his music on a featherbed of banjo rhythms and arpeggiating harp. Using tones mellow and grassy, Matt Wilson & His Orchestra spin out the best songs of Matt’s career, reaching back beyond his prog-rock days as songwriter and lyricist with Trip Shakespeare, back to his first songwriting explorations of classic forms, country melodies, tear-jerking ballads.

When I was a writer was recorded at Wilson’s home studio, produced by him and mixed by John Fields (Soul Asylum, Miley Cyrus, Jonas Brothers, Switchfoot, Rooney, etc.) at Creation Audio. When I was a writer was released by Chicago’s Pravda Records on March 20, 2020.

Matt explains the genesis of the new album: “I wrote the song ‘I Can’t Return’ in the summer of 2015 and that was my return to songwriting after a few years away. After that, there was just an outpouring of music and words that lasted for about three years. During that time I was definitely excited to feel this inspiration, but I also felt desperate. In a way, the whole record is a reaction to death. I had this strong sense that I was running out of time. I was sincerely worried that I might lose my mind before I was able to show the world the way I wanted my music to sound.”

The harp mastery of inventive collaborator Phala Tracy is a key element of the ensemble’s overall sound. Phala and Matt’s playing is underpinned by the sparkling banjo groove of Quillan Roe who is best known for his work with the Roe Family Singers, winners of a prestigious McKnight Fellowship. The sunshine tones of harp and banjo are rolled out on a wide road of Jacques Wait’s electric bass and Wilson’s own acoustic guitar and piano playing.

The arrangements on When I was a writer are built upon the orchestra’s organic but percussive instrumentation. Acoustic guitar, piano, harp, banjo and electric bass guitar produce a feather bed of circular rhythms, cascading arpeggios and reverberant sonic swells. “I Can’t Return” has breezy acoustic verses that intensify as they ascend to anthemic choruses pillowed with rich background vocals. “Decent Guy” boasts waterfalling rhymes underpinned by a spare and funky bassline and crisp beat laid down by, banjo and clipped acoustic guitar, while the harp shimmers like a recurring dream. The title track feints at being folk music, but unleashes verses filled with continually modulating chords and choruses resounding with vocal pyrotechnics.

Raised in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, Matt became a fan of rockers like Elvis Costello, Bruce Springsteen and Devo. He and his high school friends formed a group called The Panic, and spent much of their youth as under-aged performers in Minneapolis nightclubs, warming up for future luminaries such as Husker Du and The Replacements. In the early 80s, Matt followed his brother Dan to college in Boston where they formed a number of bands, including the Love Monsters, marking Matt’s first turn as a lead singer. Returning to Minneapolis, the brothers joined forces with bass player John Munson to form Trip Shakespeare, writing, recording, and touring together for a decade. John and Matt still perform in a rock band together, The Twilight Hours.

Matt’s been featured on MTV, Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, Spin, The Toronto Star, and many other influential media outlets. Trip Shakespeare’s single, “Toolmaster of Brainerd,” was named by one of Minnesota’s 50 Greatest Hits, and the group was included on The Current’s list of “893 Most Essential Musical Artists of All Time.” Throughout Matt’s career, his songs have been played heavily on tastemaker radio stations like The Current around the country. Throughout his career, the goal has remained constant. “Above all, the most important purpose of my music,” Wilson explains, “is to help people who are wandering through the dreariness of life to break through to a release of emotion

$20-$25