The former Trip Shakespeare frontman sings about not being able to return, but he’s done just that with 12 new tunes.

Matt Wilson & His Orchestra

When I Was a Writer

Hailing from Minneapolis, Minnesota, Matt Wilson fronted the band Trip Shakespeare in the late ’80s and ’90s. A genre unto themselves, the band was known for its big-energy spontaneous live shows, and intelligent yet quirky songwriting by Wilson and his brother Dan. Alas, Trip Shakespeare was the (my) generation’s Big Star: critically acclaimed but limited commercial success.

Wilson started writing songs again in 2015 after a hiatus, and he’s working an acoustic and piano rather than a Strat these days, accompanied by a harp, banjo, and bass. Still, 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.

Must-hear tracks: “Decent Guy” and “Space Cruising”


Photo by cottonbro

Intermediate

Intermediate

  • Demonstrate a variety of drone guitar techniques and approaches.
  • Examine drone points of reference from an array of genres.
  • Learn how to use standard, drop D, and uncommon alternate tunings in drone contexts.

Playing a melody or solo with a “drone” means playing over just one note or, in some instances, one chord. Besides playing without any harmonic accompaniment, it is about as simple a concept as one can image, which also means the possibilities are endless. We’ll look at ways to use drones in a variety of contexts, from ancient to contemporary, blues to metal, traditional to experimental.

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See a sampling of picks used by famous guitarists over the years.

Marty Stuart

Submit your own artist pick collections to rebecca@premierguitar.com for inclusion in a future gallery.

How does a legacy artist stay on top of his game? The pianist, hit singer-songwriter, producer, and composer talks about the importance of musical growth and positive affirmation; his love for angular melodicism; playing jazz, pop, classical, bluegrass, jam, and soundtrack music; and collaborating with his favorite guitarists, including Pat Metheny and Jerry Garcia.

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