Daniel Ellsworth & The Great Lakes
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Daniel Ellsworth & The Great Lakes

Nashville, Tennessee, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2010 | INDIE

Nashville, Tennessee, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2010
Band Alternative Indie




"Conan O'Brien's Team Coco Premieres "Phantoms" Music Video"

Try not to get too hungry when you watch the reverse slow motion food fight in Daniel Ellsworth & The Great Lakes' latest music video, "Phantoms." The track is the second single off the indie rock band's sophomore record Kid Tiger, which is available now on iTunes. - Team Coco

"Esquire names DE&TGL one of the 15 Bands To Watch in 2014"


Oh, sorry, did you want to dance? Like, uncontrollable, lashing-about, head-thrown-back dancing? Well, then you should get excited about the forthcoming Daniel Ellsworth and the Great Lakes album. Blending synth-pop and indie rock with sheer energy, this is a Nashville band that bucks the town's hipster cowboy stereotype. - Esquire Magazine

"Daniel Ellsworth & The Great Lakes: Kid Tiger"

Daniel Ellsworth & The Great Lakes, a four-piece based not near its regional namesake, but in Nashville, Tenn., is a rock and roll band driven by a fiercely independent collective spirit and whiskey shots. Their sophomore album, Kid Tiger, arrives three years after their self-funded debut LP Civilized Man charted on Amazon MP3’s best albums of the year list. Although not quite at raucous as their (often-self-booked) live shows, Kid Tiger is a high-energy release of danceable, feel-good indie rock tunes.

With synths like Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. and a rock and roll rhythm section fitting for Nashville’s growing underground scene, Daniel Ellsworth & The Great Lakes is a product of various musical influences, past and present. At times, Ellsworth yelps like Raconteurs-era Jack White (he pushes the limit of his vocal range in “Idle Warning”) and at other times guitarist Timon Lance’s distorted lead riffs scream and howl like a light version of The Mars Volta (“Little Light”). Elsewhere, “Fits and Starts” is appropriately skittish but kept aligned by Joel Wren’s meticulous drumming. With Grammy award-winning Vance Powell (Jack White, Kings of Leon) engineering, Kid Tiger sounds crisp enough to accentuate the band’s playing (particularly Marshall Skinner’s bass lines that are in fact, fairly complex), yet scuzzy enough to prove that everything was recorded live in the studio. Even though individual tracks elicit such wildly different musical comparisons, Kid Tiger feels surprising consistent, cozily melding keyboard dance-pop and guitar-rock in a way that’s genuine and exciting. - Paste Magazine

"Named in Top 5 Bands at Outlaw Roadshow"

The buzz that preceded Daniel Ellsworth was high: clearly, he was a big draw for the people of Nashville. Best of all, he lived up to all expectations with a Jerry Lee Lewis level of passion as he sang every song like it was his last. This guy is all talent and heart, and the band sounds like they’ve been together for twenty years, though their median age is probably close to 25. These guys are definitely one to watch! - AXS

"Wells Smells A Hitmaker"

There are some bands whose fame far outreaches their talent level…and this is not one of those bands. Extremely tight musicians with a frontman who writes hit after hit after hit after hit. If they don’t become famous, I will have lost faith in the consumers of music. - Nashville Lifestyles Magazine

"Gimme Your Answers: An Interview w/ Daniel Ellsworth & The Great Lakes"

Nashville quartet Daniel Ellsworth & the Great Lakes hit a high note (or two or seven) in New York last Friday. Their latest album, Kid Tiger, is a melodic and at times raucous experience, lush in your headphones but more appropriate blasted out the windows of your car. It’s clear why DE&TGL are known for upbeat live performances– one look at Daniel’s face last night and you knew he was ready for Broadway. We sat down with Daniel, Timon Lance, Joel Wren, and Marshall Skinner before the show for talk of production, bears, and brown honey.

AMBY: It’s my understanding that you guys all wrote songs for this album. How did you manage to keep it cohesive?

Daniel: Well, the songs weren’t written by different people, we basically built the songs from the ground up together, as opposed to one person writing it, as opposed to just me writing it. That’s why it is cohesive, because it was the four of us.

Marshall: When we started writing songs for the new record, we happened to be in northern Minnesota. A friend of Dan’s family had a cabin, so we just went up to the cabin and Dan had a bunch of song ideas. We stayed there for a week and just started hashing out songs. I think that helped us really get focused on writing the whole album. Some people write different songs, at different times, and they just kind of sound scattered. We had a lot of really great ideas, initially. Even if the songs weren’t completed, we knew where they were going. We had recorded everything with basically what you have [indicates voice recorder]. Set it in the middle of the room and just wrote, wrote, wrote, all day.

Dan: I think you hung it from the ceiling.

Marshall: [laughs] so high tech.

AMBY: Did you see any bears?

Joel: I almost hit one with the van.

Marshall: That’s why Joel doesn’t drive anymore.

Joel: I was passing somebody, and there were these two, big, dark black things in the road, going across. I didn’t slam on the brakes. And then I realized, those are two black bears. I feel like I drove for maybe two hours, and there was that, a cow crossing the road.

Marshall: A dog that chased the van for… four miles.

Joel: I was like, ‘I’m DONE.’

AMBY: One of the things I like about this album is that it is catchy, but there’s a lot of raw emotion behind it. How did you keep that feeling?
Daniel: When you track stuff live, it’s like playing a live show, and there’s so much energy in our live shows. The core of the album was tracked in five days. We had five days to track 17 songs, then I had to go back and sing lead vocals on 17 songs.

AMBY: You were chugging honey.

Daniel: It was not honey. I was chugging–

Joel: It was brown? Brown honey.

Marshall: There was something about the pace of it. I think [producer] Vance Powell originally thought we were doing a much smaller amount. We showed up, and he was like ‘so, you’re doing five songs.’ And we were like, ‘we’re doing seventeen songs.’ and he basically said, ‘I’m ready if you’re ready.’ But the pace was just, bam!

Daniel: He said still, to this day, it’s still the most songs they’ve ever tracked in that amount of time.

AMBY: Were there any songs that gave you difficulty?

Joel: No.

Marshall: There are two songs that I for sure know the very first time we played the songs all the way through, we used those for the record. Waves and Static. For Static, we did two [takes], but after the first one we were like, ‘we’re not going to do it better than that.’

AMBY: Being so rehearsed, how do you keep it different every live performance?

Joel: Brown honey.

Dan: We wrote songs that we love, and because of that we love playing them every night. On top of that, we wrote a super high energy record.

Timon: I can listen to the record, and my heart rate goes up. I feel like I’m going through the motions of playing it. Marshall and Joel and I were in the same room, Daniel was through a little window, tracking the vocals. We were just as excited as playing a live show. We were all sweating.

Dan: It sounds like it should be an easy thing to do, it’s not. It’s really fucking hard to make it actually feel like your recording is a live show.

Timon: We’re playing for Vance Powell, you either shit or get off the pot.

AMBY: So, if you had to pick, what would you say Kid Tiger is about?

Dan: One of the songs was written almost entirely after watching four episodes of Mad Men.

Marshall: I didn’t know that, which song is it?

Dan: Backfire.

AMBY: On a lighter note, who came up with the air fresheners?

Marshall: Just from traveling a lot, being in truck stops and crappy gas stations, we kept seeing these buff dudes on air fresheners, and we were like, ‘we should just put our faces on them.’ So we got a camera, we took pictures, we sent them off. And we had air fresheners. We were playing a show one time, and somebody bought my cherry air freshener. You know, when you buy an air freshener, you just open it a little bit. So the car smells a little bit. They just pulled it out, in the middle of the gig. It was probably 50 feet from the stage, and it smelled like it was right in front of us. They should put a warning on that thing. And it’s distracting!

Dan: Guys, we have to be there in like, 5 minutes.

AMBY: My bad. Thanks again!

Marshall: So tell us about your thing with Justin Bieber…


Thank you Daniel Ellsworth, for giving us your answers! - A Music Blog Yea

"The Take Media: NXNE Day 4"

These dudes made the trip from Nashville, therefore I feel like it can go without saying that their overall musicianship was tight. The songs were energetic, positive and filled with so many hooks; within the vocals, baselines and piano specifically. They played with so much energy and with such a strong connection to each other that it seemed to be second nature. Their songs were fresh; though familiar elements were present, the combination and delivery were new. - The Take Media

"Daytrotter: Daniel Ellsworth & The Great Lakes"

"...Nashville's Daniel Ellsworth & The Great Lakes sings his beautifully energized songs about character building, character infractions, questioned character, life spilling, life working, spirits blazing, spirits squandered - all of it happening down in the trenches." - Daytrotter.com

"Live Show Review: The Basement 1/25/13"

Daniel Ellsworth really brought it on Friday, as he and his possé always do. They even debuted a new song titled “*who am i kidding, i don’t know the name of my favorite song on the radio, but i know a good song when i hear it*“, and it sounded like it could have come off of that Phoenix record, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, that everyone in the world has owned at some point since it released back in 2009. What? Insult, you say? Have you been under a rock for the past 4 days? Phoenix is headlining freaking Coachella, people. - No Country for New Nashville

"Live Show Review- The Basement Nashville 1/25/13"

We first wrote about Daniel Ellsworth & the Great Lakes back in April of last year and they were fantastic then. But the four piece has sharpened their sound and their live show so effectively that they are currently winning our year-end poll (to your right) and accomplishing everything every independent band sets out to accomplish. After returning from their recent U.S. tour, the band hasn't stopped, giving everyone little choice but to become a fan of their eclectic blues pop-rock. Essentially, Daniel Ellsworth & the Great Lakes are blowing up-- and no one is surprised. Their set at the Basement was a testament to how far they've come. - The Deli Magazine

"Daniel Ellsworth & the Great Lakes wins our Nashville Best Emerging Artist of 2012 Poll!"

Dear Deli Readers,
We are proud to announce that The Deli’s Best of 2012 Emerging Nashville Artist is Daniel Ellsworth & the Great Lakes! The band received high scores all around in our poll, with votes pouring in from jurors, Deli writers and readers, which is something quite rare and conjures up a fully deserved win. Indie-rockers The Paranormals placed second followed by the Southern blues band Luella & the Sun who came in at third. - The Deli Magazine

"Consequence of Sound says DE&TGL is one of "10 acts that were something to write home about" at CMJ"

Here are 10 acts that were something to write home about, acts you should check out, acts you should see live, and acts you should start going to bat for- Another band I made a point of seeing twice after unexpectedly stumbling upon them. Bored by an over-hyped country crooner before King Tuff, I strolled up Grand Street and into Trash Bar. I was greeted by a glasses-and-bow-tie wearing Daniel Ellsworth pounding out Tennessee-bred piano rock from his keyboard like J. Roddy Waltson does his standing piano. He and The Great Lakes mix Waltson’s barroom swagger (“Take Your Time”) with Jukebox the Ghost’s pop (“Shoe Fits”) and M. Wards indie-folk ambling (“Only One For Me”). Even at two in the morning, on guitarist Timon Lance’s birthday, during their fifth CMJ showcase, they played their hearts out in pure joy, indulging the crowd with an encore covering Paul Simon’s “Kodachrome”. Though selling CDs next to free download cards may not be a great sales strategy, the way those postcards disappeared after the set shows a solid performance is the best marketing. -Ben Kaye - Consequence of Sound

"Brightest Young Things says "a modern but timeless sound with cross-generational appeal that could easily propel them into the margins of the mainstream.""

Just five minutes into a Daniel Ellworth & the Great Lakes show you will start developing symptoms. Your hands will clap. Your feet will tap. You will sing along to songs you are hearing for the first time. Do not be alarmed; this is a natural reaction. The well-traveled foursome from Nashville, Tennessee possess the showman's skill of making the complex seem simple and making sure you have a damn good time watching them do it.

Their 12-song debut, Civilized Man, (which landed a spot on Amazon's 100 Best Albums of 2011,) showcases a group well beyond its years. These are the junior high kids who drive brother's Firebird and steal dad's whiskey, and they don't let you forget it. Their sumptuous blend of old rock and traditional folk with singalong harmonies brings together eras and genres in a sound that becomes instantly their own. The band -- led by frontman Ellsworth and supported by guitarist Timon Lance, bassist Marshall Skinner, and drummer, Joel Wren -- write songs both sonically intricate and lyrically full. Much like their revered influences, Wilco, The Band, and Jack White, they strive for (and more often than not, hit) a modern but timeless sound with cross-generational appeal that could easily propel them into the margins of the mainstream, much like their fellow Nashville rockers, The Black Keys.

Perhaps it is no coincidence then that their live show often brings together fans of a wide demographic. And it is at the live shows that this well-traveled foursome really shine. Individually, each member is confident, precise, and well-trained experts in their particular crafts. When they combine they bring a raw vigor and contagious enthusiasm that you would expect from four twenty-something Nashvillians who have an affinity for dive bars, diners, and donut-eating competitions. In front of 3 people or 3000, their show is the same. They want you to feel what they feel, to travel the miles they've driven, and to tap your foot because you just can't help it.

Next week, they’re bringing their plaid shirts, skinny jeans, and Nashville charm to New York City. The band will play not one, not two, but five shows all around the Big Apple as part of the CMJ Music Marathon (the festival that launched the superstardom of formerly underground indie artists like Sleigh Bells and Gotye.) But before they take over NYC (and maybe the world,) check out the exclusive video premiere of their new single, Wolf is Me, and our interview with the band's namesake and piano-playing ringleader, Daniel Ellsworth.

You've spent the majority of the year traveling and playing shows -- how has that affected your performance? How have you grown as a band from the experience?
Yeah. This year we will have played close to 150 dates. Every single date has been self-booked and self-promoted, which has pushed us all just short of insanity. When you play that many shows together, naturally, you get tighter as a band. Every single time we play we feel more and more confident in our live show. Doing everything DIY has also forced us to learn how to operate as a small business when we're out on the road. You have to be your own tour managers, your own merch salespeople, and somewhere in there you have to be a rock band. People assume we are off partying, traveling, and having the time of our lives - don't get me wrong, all those things are true - but there's also a lot of fucking work that goes into every show we play. People don't realize that. Making ends meet in a small, independent touring band isn't easy to do - but I think playing this many dates has forced us to grow stronger and learn how make the most of every show.

You and the band recently took a trip to Minnesota to work on your record -- how was that experience? What was the writing process and how did it differ from writing in Nashville?
We had some time in between shows up there so we hunkered down in a lake house in northern Minnesota to write for a week. Bon Iver would be really proud of us. We literally just set up and wrote music all day every day. There hasn't ever been a time in this band where we've been able to dedicate entire days at a time to the writing process. It was much more focused because of that. For our new material, I've been bringing chord structures and unfinished melodies to the guys, and then we build them from the ground up as a band. We spend insane amounts of time talking about what each instrument should do where, why it should do that, and how it will affect the entire song. It's a very open, very communal process.

What's your approach to trying to make the most of CMJ and will you be doing anything special for the festival?
We're super excited to be playing CMJ for the first time. As of right now, we'll be playing 5 times in 3 days. When we're not playing, we're going to be all over the city catching shows and going to parties and whatever else it is bands do during CMJ week (drink). We're actuall - Brightest Young Things

""I might die, but that's okay." Asheville Show Review"

Nashville indie-rockers Daniel Ellsworth & the Great Lakes took the stage at Emerald Lounge last Friday following a lush, harmony-strewn (and Fleet Foxes-esque) set by local band Wash Hollow. Ellsworth and his band have been touring behind last year's release, Civilized Man, and have worked the songs out to wrench-tight arrangements — in a good way.

The band launched immediately into "Bleeding Tongue," the high energy piano-rocker that kicks off Civilized. Ellsworth played keys with one hand and tambourine with the other, his role as bandleader involving both some intricate musicianship ("Bleeding Tongue," like most of Civilized's offerings, is a decathlon of movements, time signature changes and moods — including a break that's nothing but soft piano chords and kick drum heavy enough to rattle bottles) and personal relations. Half-dancing, crouched over his chair, Ellsworth drew in the crowd. It's hard to watch an intense performance and not get up close to the stage.

Ellsworth was not only a cheerleader for his own band, but for his opener, announcing at one point, "Wash Hollow, I'm know your parents are here, but you're f*cking awesome." He also told the crowd, before launching into the band's single, "Shoe Fits," "This is our dance song. We were in Asheville all day and we saw people just randomly dancing in the street, so we know you can dance here."

The band put everything into each song (and the light show above the Emerald Lounge stage certainly added to the effect). "Take Your Time" felt cinematic — like it could have been scoring a club scene in a movie — though, for all the orchestration and high-minded composition of Ellsworth's songs, they're also easily digestible and right at home in a small venue.

The Great Lakes doesn't really do slow songs — each number is a full-power play — but "Surrender" started out softer, with jabs of bass, cymbals and a lightly skipping guitar part. Ellsworth and company are defined by their sense of dynamics and absolute control. Tempos, emotional shades, the way the front man's vocal launched from a forceful delivery to a cool falsetto. All of these are reigned in, then cast out, then swept back into an unshakable center.

At one point, the entire band stopped on a dime, with only Timon Lance (or according to my notes, "the handsome guitarist with his handsome hollow body guitar") playing what proved to be not a solo so much as a bridge into the next song.

Where Lance's playing was all quickness and lightness, Ellsworth seemed to wring each song from the very core of his being — an interesting juxtaposition and nice balance, both sonically and visually.

Ellsworth announced, from the stage, that the group had performed at Montreat College the night before and were nearly shut down by the police for playing too loudly. "This is the song they wanted to turn down," he said before opening "Follow Me Home," one of the few numbers Ellsworth plays on guitar.

That was followed by a new song, "Frontline," a driving rocker, pushed to a frantic pace by the drum kit. There, the soundscape toed the line between dissonance and big, round notes. Ellsworth broke out a near-freakout, Jerry Lee Lewis-style attack on the keys before melting into falsetto. A piano break led into a tense drum part that built to four-piece vocals and then the sort of sharp false start that rock songs dream of.

After that, Ellsworth asked the crowd, "Is everyone okay?"

Someone shouted back, "Are you okay?"

He laughed, "I might die. But that's okay."

The band wrapped its set with "Wolf Is Me," with Ellsworth back on guitar. The song started as the quietest of the evening, all brooding tones and hints of country noir. But it quickly opened to a pummel of strings and drums. Layers of instrumentation bolstered a ravaged vocal (ravaged more in thematic suggestion than actual battered vocal chords: Ellsworth's is an infallible voice that seems to go easily where he wills it). The song bucked and galloped up to a climax of shimmery, spooky vocals and then a final last sprint of heavy drums and shakers. If a great set has to end, that's the way to do it.
- Asheville Mountain Xpress

"Deli Magazine Live Show Review"

At a Daniel Ellsworth and the Great Lakes show, the only people in the room who may be having more fun than you are Daniel Ellsworth and the Great Lakes. The band took control of the High Watt stage on Friday night in a local music blowout, where they shared the stage with Umbrella Tree and SXSW Deli alums, Heypenny.

Utilizing their ability to fill the stage with energy and the room with sound, Daniel Ellsworth toggled his talents between the keys and the guitar while the band raised the bar for opening acts across the map. As one of the few openers worth showing up early for, the four-piece will reward your punctuality with a solid rock show, an audience-assisted clap/stomp-along during their standout jam "Shoe Fits," and a guaranteed appearance from resident Don Draper doppelganger/lead guitarist, Timon Lance. - The Deli Magazine

"Spinner Video Of The Day: Bleeding Tongue"

See link: http://www.spinner.com/2012/06/29/daniel-ellsworth-and-the-great-lakes-bleeding-tongue-video/ - Spinner

"American Songwriter Premiere: Shoe Fits (Official Video)"

Check out this brand new video for “Shoe Fits” from Daniel Ellsworth and The Great Lakes. The Nashville indie-pop band’s strident, keyboard-driven tune made Amazon MP3's Best Songs of 2011 So Far list, and their debut full-length album, Civilized Man, is one of Amazon’s Digital Favorites. The track was recorded by Mark Nevers (Andrew Bird, Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Yo La Tengo).

“More or less, it’s a song about ignoring negativity, getting out of your own head, and embracing everything about who you are,” says Ellsworth. “We shot the video in Nashville with the amazing Austin Gros. Filming was hot, sweaty, and right in the middle of Nashville’s 13-year cicada invasion, but the whole thing ended up being fun, funny, and maybe even a little creepy… which we are completely okay with.” - American Songwriter

"Lightning 100 & Brite Magazine say "...every song sounds like it could be a hit...this will be my highest rated review...""

Stars: 4.5

Apparently nobody told Daniel Ellsworth that when you drop your first full-length, it’s not supposed to be a greatest hits record. You’re supposed to build up to that. I say this for two reasons—just hear me out. One, every song sounds like it could be a hit. Two, every song sounds different, like each was plucked from a series of dusty vinyl, cracked cassettes and ripped MP3s. It’s all over the place in a phenomenal way. I hate comparing musicians, but this sounds like a cross between Jack White and M. Ward, and those guys are about three sips of absinthe away from total wizardry. Seriously, this will be my highest rated review. Go. Buy. The. Record.
- Lightning 100 & Brite Magazine

"GoodMusicAllDay.com says "The Next Big Thing""

The next big thing: think Black Keys meets Mumford & Sons combined with that lil extra something and you have Daniel Ellsworth & The Great Lakes. The songwriting, chord progressions, and overall melodies are second to none in this song, “Bleeding Tongue.” On top of all that, this is one of the best videos I’ve seen for this genre in a long, long time. These guys are going to blow up, QUICK. Follow em on Facebook here so you can watch their journey. Enjoy. - GoodMusicAllDay.com

"Awaiting the Flood Review"

While it is pretty impossible to corral these guys into a specific genre, you may find the music is for you if you’re a fan of Fun., MGMT, Sufjan Stevens, or Motion City Soundtrack. If you’re intrigued, you can visit the band’s website or Facebook page to sample some tracks. The album, Civilized Man, is thoughtful and seamless on the whole and addictive by individual tracks. You’ll want to seek out Wolf Is Me, Kaleidoscope, Follow Me Home, and Surrender first, in addition to the previously mentioned tunes. To go whole hog and purchase the album, you’ll find it on iTunes and Amazon. - Awaiting the Flood

"Cause a Scene Review"

Ok, I admit it, sometimes in the massive landscape that is the music world, I’m a little late to jump in the water. Every now and then I get distracted by the bright, shiny things way out in the horizon rather than the powerful waves right in front of me. Case in point: Saturday night’s house guests Daniel Ellsworth & The Great Lakes. I had heard of them long ago, even saw when Amazon named their single “Shoe Fits” the 7th best song of 2011 and their full-length one of the top 100 albums (#76 to be exact) of the same year, but still, nothing. Is that a boat way out there? An island? All of a sudden I’m turned upside down by the whitecaps tossing me to and fro, from track one to number twelve.

Once I finally waded back to my natural habitat on the shore, or Nashville in this case, and listened to their full-length, “Civilian Man” several months back, and I wasn’t able to shake it. And I have been all the better for it. The album (and from what I can tell from reviews of their live shows) is full of tight harmonies from piano man Ellsworth, lead guitarist Timon Lance and bassist Marshall Skinner, with drummer Joel Wren keeping everything in check from the backline. They were described by another blogger I briefly read as “quirky electronic-enforced indie pop” and as somewhat convoluted as that sounds, it actually makes pretty good sense of their sound. It’s a jangly, shimmery brand of indie pop with a small dose of folk thrown in to roughen up the edges just enough. The band cites Wilco, Paul Simon and Tom Petty as influences on their Facebook, and it’s easy to pick up some Beach Boys pop sensibilities throughout the album as well. At some points there are some casual resemblances to a more accessible Grizzly Bear (yeah, it didn’t make sense to me the first time either, but I promise it’s there!). Ultimately, to me, they come across as simply a helluva good time a la Dr. Dog, who in similar fashion, wear their influences on their sleeves while still are able to create a sound all their own.

If all of that doesn’t get you pumped to see them live at Cause A Scene HQ (aka my living room) this Saturday night, I don’t know what will. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if the whole show turns into a small scale dance party, and if the band stays true to form, they may be doing a bit of that on their own on stage. The house show is an economical $7 at the door and will kick off at 7:30 with local favorites Isaac Hayden and David Jennings kicking the party off. We’ve had a lot of really, really fun shows this summer, but let’s just say the stage is set (pardon the pun) for our most show yet. If you’d like to come to the show, RSVP to larry.kloess@gmail.com and we’ll get you the rest of the details soon. Hope to see you all there, folks! - Cause a Scene Music

"Live Concert Review From Chicago Concert Goers - Subterranean, Chicago, 1/13/12"

Daniel Ellsworth & The Great Lakes
January 13, 2012 @ Subterranean

By Dave Miller

One of the joys of going to concerts is seeing a great opening act. A trip to see French songstress Julie Meckler in November at Beat Kitchen presented the chance to see Daniel Ellsworth & The Great Lakes. Their opening set was a revelation of irrepressible pop lifted by kaleidoscope keyboards.

It didn't take long to see Ellsworth and his band again, this time by design. They returned to town to play a set between two other acts Friday night at Subterranean. They were even better than they were at Beat Kitchen. My only criticism back then was that, if anything, they were a bit too exact in their playing, especially in their singing. Well, you can throw that out the window. They rocked their pop from beginning to end in a set that was all-too-short again thanks to the time contraints imposed on an opener. The setlist was the same as the Beat Kitchen performance with the exception of an added new song.

From his keyboard sitting front and center on the stage, Ellsworth propelled his band with the leadership of Captain Kirk and the imagination of Willie Wonka. While Ellsworth is the songwriter and orchestrator of the operation, his bandmates elevate his songs live. Guitarist Timon Lance provided a nimble grit, drummer Joel Wren injected a spirited kick and bassist Marshall Skinner pushed a bouncing beat. Harmonies met in the sweet spot between tight and loose.

Ellsworth and The Great Lakes made every second count, diving right into the immediately-engaging, gear-shifting opener, "Bleeding Tongue," with a greater confidence than their Beat Kitchen show. The second song, "Take Your Time," built momentum with a swinging swagger. The band is riding high behind its debut full-length album, Civilized Man. The release made Amazon's 2011 list of top 100 albums and the track, "Shoe Fits," ranked No. 7 on the best songs list. "Shoe Fits" soared gloriously live with its Pied Piper keyboard lead, handclaps and punchy vocals. It not only packed a wallop in the third slot, but its placement signaled Ellsworth's well-placed confidence in the quality of the material that followed. "Surrender" floated into a surprising, epic-like closing flourish. Ellsworth moved from behind the keyboard and grabbed an acoustic guitar for "Follow Me Home," which featured backwoods harmonies leading into hard-rocking, six-string strumming. The band served itself well by more fully embracing its chances to rock than it did a couple months earlier.

It's unfortunate that a band of such quality had to play in between the acts it did at Subterranean, but that can be the harsh reality for even a top-shelf group when it's working to make a name for itself across the country. That Ellsworth & The Great Lakes traveled in the winter to Chicago to play seven songs shows their commitment rivals their talent. Venturing into the cold night to see them do it was worth it. It was a performance that lifted your spirits and made you feel alive.

The setlist:

Bleeding Tongue
Take Your Time
Shoe Fits
Follow Me Home
Front Line
Wolf Is Me

Start: 10:08 p.m./Finish: 10:52 p.m.
Totals: seven songs, 44 minutes - Chicago Concert Goers

"Live Concert Review From OurVinyl - Subterranean, Chicago, 1/13/12"

If you were not part of the crowd upstairs at Subterranean in Chicago January 13th, you have my condolences: for you missed one hell of a show. It was my third time within six days that this author went to Subterranean to feed an incessant hunger for live music, and Friday night the venue feasted on rhythm and rhymes, sensual guitar riffs, and resonating keyboard chords.

My buddies and myself ran up the dark stairs upon entering the bar and made our way to my favorite spot – the front left corner. I particularly like this spot at Subterranean because it offers the best view of the spiral staircase at the back of the stage. Here you can watch bands set up and tear down their set, listen to them tune their instruments and do sound checks, and overhear their off-microphones banters. Daniel Ellsworth & The Great Lakes were doing just that when I arrived.
They started off the night with ‘Bleeding Tongue,’ which like so many of their songs surprises you with twists and turns that flow together to create a delightful sound. While Daniel (keys, etc.) was front and center, my attention was drawn to band members Joel (drums), Marshall (bass) and Timon (guitar) as they performed with infectious energy and excitement. The sound these guys create, by combining their various Midwest backgrounds (Daniel, Minneapolis MN; Timon, Youngstown OH; Marshall, Columbus OH; and Joel, Wichita KS), is a pleasing blend of pop/folk/indie rock/and an elusive something else.

If you pay attention to Amazon’s Top 100 of 2011 lists, you may already be familiar with ‘Shoe Fits,’ which was ranked #7 on The Best Songs of 2011 (their album made The Top Albums of 2011). This upbeat and catchy song features a carnivalesque whirly keyboard (something about it reminded me of sounds from Fun and Jukebox the Ghost). And it is accompanied by a dance: stomp clap, clap stomp-stomp; a routine that may be easy enough, but some of us with fuzzy coordination (impaired by alcohol, chemicals or recreation and overly-stimulated neural activity) found ourselves messing up the otherwise simple step. By the end of the song, the crowd was stomping and clapping, bopping and swaying to our own patterns and rhythms – quintessential to the overall message of the song. Make sure you download a free copy of the song and check out the music video on their website and treat yourself to their entire album, Civilized Man, while you’re there.
Daniel Ellsworth & The Great Lakes better be back to Chicago soon. If not, I’ll be making my way down to Nashville to catch another of their shows at my earliest convenience.
Daniel Ellsworth & The Great Lakes set-list (1/13/2012):
1. Bleeding Tongue
2. Take Your Time
3. Shoe Fits
4. Surrender
5. Follow Me Home
6. Front Line
7. Wolf Is Me - OurVinyl


If you’ve been following the site for some time now you’ll know we are HUGE fans of Nashville based indie rockers Daniel Ellsworth & The Great Lakes. After releasing their sophomore record, Kid Tiger — to much critical acclaim, the guys have been working hard in preparation for their upcoming Phantoms Tour which begins with a hometown performance at the Live On The Green Music Festival this coming Friday. To coincide with the announcement of their tour, DE&TGL also released a remix of “Phantoms,” the second single from Kid Tiger. The remix of the track, done by fellow Nashvillian Kyle Andrews, is aptly named the ”Phantoms (Menace) remix,” and offers a distinct change of pace from the original cut. Be on the lookout for more remixes from Daniel Ellsworth & The Great Lakes this fall and check them out on Facebook, SoundCloud, Twitter, and on their Phantoms Tour. Enjoy! - Good Music All Day

"Amazon MP3's Best Of 2011 So Far"

"Shoe Fits" on Amazon MP3's Best Songs Of 2011 So Far list

Civilized Man on Amazon MP3's Best Of 2011 So Far Digital Favorites - Amazon MP3

"Amazon's Top 100 Songs & Albums of 2011"

"Shoe Fits" listed as #7 on Amazon's Top 100 Songs of 2011

Civilized Man listed as #76 on Amazon's Top 100 Albums of 2011

Civilized Man listed as #66 on Amazon's Top 100 Albums You Might Have Missed - Amazon

"Catching up with Daniel Ellsworth & The Great Lakes"

There’s very little you can guarantee in life, but one of the surer bets is that Daniel Ellsworth and the Great Lakes will make you dance. Whether it’s around at a show, in your living room or at a stoplight when you think no one is looking, the Nashville indie outfit’s contagious sound has a way of getting those feet a-moving and that head a-bobbing, whether you like it or not. - Paste Magazine

"Daniel Ellsworth & The Great Lakes"

"3 1/2 out of 4 Stars. Jeff Tweedy and Josh Ritter are among the names dropped on the Nashvillian's latest bio — and fittingly so, it turns out, as Ellsworth shares their knack for twisting old-soul sensibilities into unmistakably modern tunes... There's the punchy piano work and light soul vocal inflections of classic Elton John, but it's charged with the sort of funky snap and schoolyard melodies that currently light up VH1's Top 20."
~ The Tennessean ~ - The Tennessean

"Daniel Ellsworth & The Great Lakes"

"4 out of 5 Stars...Ellsworth's keen ear and unflagging tenacity have now landed him among Nashville's short list of indie artists most likely to become super-stars... Fans of M Ward, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, and (yes even) the New Radicals will find much to enjoy here."
---Listen Nashville - Listen Nashville


  • Civilized Man, 2011
  • "Sun Goes Out" single, 2014
  • Kid Tiger, 2014
  • "Phantoms" single with "Phantoms (Menace Kyle Andrews Remix)" b-side, 2014



"...you should get excited about the forthcoming Daniel Ellsworth and the Great Lakes album. Blending synth-pop and indie rock with sheer energy, this is a Nashville band that bucks the town's hipster cowboy stereotype." 
Esquire Magazine

They never look the same at the end of their set; a pair of hip horn-rimmed glasses breaks in half, buttons become undone, and their once slicked-back hair is simply not anymore. But they wouldnt be themselves if it were any other way; they thrive when they render themselves void of energy, and humbly hope it rubs off on the kids in the crowd. They are Daniel Ellsworth & The Great Lakes. To see them live is to experience the crux of who they are: A high-energy indie rock band dead set on producing the best live sound they know how.

Formed in 2010 in Nashville, Tennessee, Daniel Ellsworth & The Great Lakes released their firstfull-length studio album, Civilized Man, in 2011. Recorded and co-produced with Mark Nevers (Andrew Bird, Yo La Tengo, Silver Jews), Civilized Man went on to be listed in the top 100 albums of 2011 by Amazon, with the pop-rock single Shoe Fits debuting at number seven on Amazons top 100 songs of 2011. Recently, Daniel Ellsworth & The Great Lakes was named one of the 15 Bands to Watch in 2014 by Esquire Magazine. Their sophomore album, Kid Tiger (out March 4th), was recorded by Vance Powell (Jack White, The White Stripes, The Raconteurs). They have a new EP set for release in early 2016.

"Theres very little you can guarantee in life, but one of the surer bets is that Daniel Ellsworth & The Great Lakes will make you dance." -Paste Magazine

"Even at two in the morning... during their fifth CMJ showcase, they played their hearts out in pure joy, indulging the crowd."  -Consequence of Sound

"There are some bands whose fame far outreaches their talent level, and this is not one of those bands. Extremely tight musicians with a frontman who writes hit after hit after hit after hit. If they don't become famous, I will have lost faith in the consumers of music." - Wells Adams, ALT 98.3

Band Members