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.