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Matt Wilson and His Orchestra
December 20, 2018 @ 8:30 pm
Matt Wilson – Voice, Guitar, Piano
Phala Tracy – Harp
Quillan Roe – Banjo
Jacques Wait – Electric Guitar, Bass
Warm like a place near the fire. Breezy like a grass-topped hill. Minneapolis singer and songwriter Matt Wilson presents his music on a featherbed of banjo rhythms and arpeggiating harp. The group’s sound is not hard to fall into, like a remembrance of some sunny Sunday forever ago, a stroll by Moon River, a moment near rustling reeds. Using tones mellow and grassy, Matt and his band 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. The group will also offer up Matt’s favorite songs from history, the big classic numbers he can’t help singing to himself, the soaring music of Roy Orbison and Umberto Bindi. The repertoire stretches forward in time as well to the songs Matt is developing now both on his own and with his Minneapolis-based rock band The Twilight Hours.
The band is configured like a woolen blanket pulled in four directions to catch the falling melodies. Beneath Matt’s smoky voice and acoustic guitar work we hear Minneapolis musicians Phala Tracy, Quillan Roe and Jacques Wait, an oddly beautiful mix of complementary characters, instruments, musical backgrounds.
Most striking to the eye and ear is the majestical harp mastery of Phala. A natural born lover of nonsense and whimsy, Phala composes songs and poems. But her towering gift is to render beautiful songs from almost any genre, from classical, to pop, to the ragtime music her father played on banjo. An inventive collaborator, she performs each year at The New Standards Holiday Show in Minneapolis, the stage where she first met Matt. The two went on to collaborate in a dramatic production, Black Beauty Theatrical, centered around Matt’s band, The Twilight Hours. Phala has since recorded and performed with Chris Lynch and the Dust of Suns Ensemble as well as on Jeremy Messersmith’s most recent album.
Quillan Roe is more than just a banjo playing groove machine. He is most well-known for his work with the Roe Family Singers which he heads up along with his wife Kim. In 2011, the Roe Family Singers won the prestigious McKnight Fellowship for Performing Musicians, which served as a springboard for the Roes to become full-time musicians. During the past decade that group has won a number of prestigious bluegrass awards and competitions. Quillan has been playing in bands for nearly three decades, with his first professional band, Accident Clearinghouse, launching in 1992.
Guitar and bass player Jacques Wait, a renowned music producer and engineer in Minneapolis, is one of the sublime musical threads that has connected much of Matt’s musical career. After Matt’s ten-year stint with Trip Shakespeare, he and Jacques became permanently intertwined, first in the solo music that Matt created in the late 90’s, and later as they joined together with legendary Minneapolis bass player John Munson to form a band The Twilight Hours. The niche Jacques has carved as music producer has been primarily in the area of punkish guitar bands with an overdriven edge such Pink Mink and The Soviettes. But over time Jacques’s guitar playing has wandered and wended toward something sweeter, tremulous rivers of mood and melody. Jacques work as a bass player has a lower public profile than his soaring guitar work, but he is equally as accomplished in the lower registers. Jacques work can be heard in his 70’s cover band Magnet and Steel, and of course in his collaborations with Matt in The Twilight Hours.