Matt Wilson, second from right, enlisted (from left) Quillan Roe, Jacques Wait and Phala Tracy for his new group. / Photo by Becca Dilley

Matt Wilson, second from right, enlisted (from left) Quillan Roe, Jacques Wait and Phala Tracy for his new group. / Photo by Becca Dilley

After mixing things up over the years between solo efforts, the Flops and the Twilight Hours since his days co-helming the regionally beloved late-‘80s band Trip Shakespeare, the song master behind “Toolmaster of Brainerd” is debuting a new ensemble with two shows this weekend.

Matt Wilson & His Orchestra take over the Dakota on Friday and Saturday nights. The group features Quillan Roe on banjo (Roe Family Singers), Jacques Wait on bass (Twilight Hours) and harpist Phala Tracy. You really don't hear enough harp in rock 'n' roll.

Though mostly an acoustic affair, the new lineup obviously employs lusher and more playful arrangements than a typical stripped-down acoustic act. The "orchestra" will put a fresh spin on some of Wilson’s older tunes, but they also have new songs to wheel out, including a philosophically poppy single called “Real Life,” which was posted online in time for these coming-out shows (hear it here or below). This marks Wilson’s first new recorded music since the Twilight Hours’ great “Black Beauty” album in 2016.

Wilson & Co. are switching off time slots with Dakota regulars Davina & the Vagabonds this weekend, with Wilson’s crew playing the late slot on Friday (9:30 p.m.) and then the early show Saturday (7 p.m.) Tickets are available via dakotacooks.com for $15-$25. 

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