My super cool harp-banjo-bass-&-me orchestra is heading back out on the road. You should come and hear us.
To get a taste of Matt Wilson & his Orchestra ↓ take a look at our videos near the bottom of this page, including our March 20, 2020 streaming record release show (It was so fun considering it was our entry into pandemic doom.).
The rest of the videos here are songs from our album When I was a Writer which is available for order now.
Have I mentioned the Orchestra?
Okay, it’s not an orchestra.
More like a banjo-harp-gentle-rockin-happy machine.
We don’t know what to call it, but we want everyone to know about it. The music has a lot of light in it. We try to play beautiful songs from all eras. Plus a ton of my own songs dating from the beginning of my songwriting quest right up to the present.
Our Record’s Out.
You should have it.
We released our album just as the pandemic took hold. Yes, we had to cancel a bunch of shows, but our friends at Pravda Records have been fulfilling every order that comes in. Get yourself the LP. It belongs on your shelf. The vinyl version is a big, lovely gatefold edition with all the lyrics printed out along with photos of the group. You’ll be happy to have it spinning at your place.
Critics have been kind.
It sort of makes sense. Writers seem to love When I was a Writer.
“A masterclass in songwriting, arrangement, and performance, When I Was a Writer speaks to life's final act when we are left with few assurances but an inescapable destination. The Minnesota native handles this delicate topic with equal parts acceptance and defiance over a series of tunes that render us alternately tearful and triumphant.”
– PopMatters, Jedd Beaudoin, Jan 15 2020
“Which is to say, When I was a writer is filled with songs of spring sung in a crisp autumnal mood and thus has a kind of scrapbook immediacy to it that makes it one of those quietly assured keeper gems that we’re forever grateful to for having crossed our path.”
– Stereo Embers, Dave Cantrell, May 12 2020
“Thanks to this instrumental configuration, the music shapeshifts between genres—baroque pop, lush folk, rich acoustic rock—with intricate grace and precise arrangements. The nuances of the topsy-turvy melody of “Real Life” and “Petty Thief” come into sharp relief thanks to cascading background harmonies, while Roe’s galloping banjo and Tracy’s fanciful playing offer texture to ‘Space Cruising.’”
– City Pages, Annie Zaleski, Mar 18, 2020
“Whatever you’re imagining a harp and banjo band to sound like, Matt Wilson & His Orchestra probably doesn’t sound anything like it. The vibe is neither heavenly nor hillbilly. Combining those instruments with bass, guitar and piano results in a surprisingly warm and wistful sound, and – as with all of Wilson’s music – it is instantly melodically memorable.”
– Rock and Roll Globe, Katherine Yeske Taylor, Mar 25, 2020
“The much cherished Minneapolis songwriter and musician Matt Wilson has returned after a five year silence with a remarkable new album When I Was a Writer. A stunning work of substance and depth, it is a record you can’t help but be joyously intimate with from the very first play.”
– I Don’t Hear a Single, Mick Dillingham, Mar 12, 2020
“… the soul of his songwriting is immediately familiar. I resonated with the interplay between the sometimes prominent harp and Wilson’s 6-string in the gently percussive songs, which are chock-full of his signature big vocal harmonies projecting his somewhat melancholy, sometimes despondent lyrics. When I Was a Writer is inspired writing and playing, and it’s a treat hearing Wilson doing his thing again.”
– Premier Guitar, Rich Osweiler, Mar 29, 2020
See all the reviews and interviews plus podcast and radio appearances in our Press section.
Orchestra T shirts make pandemic life more harmonious.
We’ve got two designs in a couple different shapes that will probably turn that snarly mood around. If you’re feeling generous, you could get a gift card too and relieve another troubled soul, as well. You’ll see it all in the store.
Our store is only for the t shirts and gift cards. If you don’t have our record yet, we totally want you to get that first. You can order it from our label Pravda right here.
Unisex, old style
This is probably the best shirt. The slightly gray blue is a little more charming than in this photo. Ryan Seitz’ design FTW. Wearing this says you’re down home, but discerning.
Old style, but hot
The color on this one is a little bit brighter, the fit a little bit tighter. This T is the thirsty version of the blocky old style one. If you're looking for love, you’ll find it wearing this.
Inexplicably, a deer
This deer is more masculine than Matt, but less so than Quillan and Jacques. He’s equally wise as Phala. The antlers represent our musical ideas going out to the world.
Orchestra Music Videos
Some TeeVee watchin’ might hit the spot right now.
We’ve made a lot of music videos in the last year. The one we really want you to see is our record release streaming show (which you can watch on our YouTube channel, or just scroll down this page). Because it’s live music, you can really see who we are, and how the instrumentation works. It’s probably different from what you might think.
Below that are all the videos we’ve made in the year leading up to the release of our record. Some of them are pretty amusing, Decent Guy in particular. Enjoy your TV time, and don’t forget to grab an album or two for you and your friends.
Our Record Release Show
Kick back and celebrate with us the March 20, 2020, release of our record, available here.
This show was super fun for the band. The comments were amusing, too. But maybe only to us. Enjoy!
Here’s our second release.
This song has just a little bit of darkness in it to make the sunshine in your life seem brighter.
This was our first single.
You’re welcome to grab a high resolution version of this song for free on bandcamp, or you can just enjoy it here and scroll down to our next opus.
When I was a Writer
This is the title track for our LP, to be released March 20.
This video was fun to make. We pulled out all the stops. The cool dancers are Black Label Movement from Minneapolis.
It’s okay. We’re all falling apart.
This time the band makes a few carefully-obscured appearances.
What I’ve been trying to do
Maybe the only remarkable thing about me is that my musical quest has been absolutely continuous. I honestly have never stopped. From the time I was a little rug rat in St. Louis Park, I've been poking around and exploring, in my mind, on a guitar, looking for a connection, a pathway from emotion to sound and back again. I tinker and fumble for methods to crack into the strongbox of your heart – and my heart – to release what’s in there. I’ll try any little trick, any combination of words and sound that can bring us to that moment of revelation. And the best way for me is to make that happen is when when we’re all together.
Beyond connecting with you through music, I truly want to understand the universe and where we stand within it. I want to believe that love and kindness are somehow at the base of everything. But mostly, I want to know the truth, what is real. For now, all I can do is to keep looking around corners, seeking for light. And whatever I find, I’ll try to bring it to you.