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Dan Wilson

Dan Wilson has been a cult hero of American smart pop music since the late 1980s as guitarist with the bands Trip Shakespeare and Semisonic, and in the 21st century he's quietly embarked on a solo career. Born in Barrington, IL on March 25, 1969, Dan Wilson grew up in Minneapolis, MN, and like his brother Matt Wilson he developed a passion for music and learned how to play guitar in his teens. Wilson studied art at Harvard University, but after graduating, he returned to Minneapolis to discover his brother Matt's band Trip Shakespeare -- a locally popular trio who fused pop hooks with a psychedelic sense of aural wanderlust -- was thinking of adding a second guitar player. Dan joined Trip Shakespeare shortly after the release of their first album, 1986's Applehead Man, and made his recorded debut with the group on 1988's Are You Shakespearienced?. Trip Shakespeare signed a deal with A&M Records in 1989, and they recorded three albums for the label, 1990s Across the Universe, 1991's Lulu, and 1992's Volt. Unfortunately, the group's following never grew beyond an enthusiastic cult, and A&M opted not to release Volt, which instead came out through Minneapolis indie label Twin/Tone. After A&M dropped Trip Shakespeare and the group parted ways, Dan Wilson concentrated on writing songs before forming a new band, Semisonic, in 1995. Featuring former Trip Shakespeare bassist John Munson and drummer Jacob Slichter, Semisonic's approach was as pop-oriented as Wilson's previous band, but with a more accessible melodic sense, and the group earned positive reviews and a devoted fan following for their debut EP, 1995's Pleasure, and their first full-length album, 1996's The Great Divide, which was Semisonic's first release under a deal with MCA Records. 1998's Feeling Strangely Fine was a major commercial breakthrough for Semisonic, scoring two hit singles ("Closing Time" and "Secret Smile") and earning the group a platinum album. However, while 2001's All About Chemistry received enthusiastic reviews and the single "Chemistry" was a hit in the U.K., the album didn't click with record buyers, and Semisonic quietly went on hiatus, though they made periodic concert appearances and compilation appearances. As Semisonic went into semi-retirement, Wilson focused his energies on songwriting and studio work; he produced albums for Mike Doughty, Epic Hero, the New Standards and Storyville, and wrote several songs with Jewel, Jason Mraz and the Dixie Chicks, including the Chicks' "Not Ready to Make Nice," which in 2007 won the Grammy award as "Song of the Year." Wilson has also signed with Rick Rubin's American Records as a solo act; his album Free Life, featuring a guest appearance from Sheryl Crow, landed in October 2007. Wilson also performs occasionally with John Munson and Matt Wilson in their side project the Flops.
Mark Deming, Rovi

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