Last fall, he landed a spot on NBC’s a capella reality show The Sing Off, and Amazon.com recently named a single put out by his band, Daniel Ellsworth and the Great Lakes, as the seventh-best song of 2011.
On Sunday, Jan. 15, Ellsworth (and the rest of his band, the Great Lakes) will return to Woodbury to play a show benefiting the Merrill Community Arts Center at its new Rivertown location. Tickets cost $10 for adults, $5 for students. Check out more information about the event.
Woodbury Patch spoke with Ellsworth about his hometown, his musical career and his artistic influences.
Woodbury Patch: When’s the last time you played in Woodbury?
Daniel Ellsworth: The last time we played in the Twin Cities was in August, but this is probably the first time we’ve ever played in Woodbury. We play in the Twin Cities fairly often, but we’re excited to do this benefit for the art center. I grew up in Woodbury, and music was a huge part of my childhood and growing up.
Patch: What are you planning on doing while you’re back to Woodbury?
Ellsworth: Hanging out with my family; I don’t get to see them all that often. Hanging out and eating some good meals.
Patch: What are your musical influences?
Ellsworth: I can list off the big ones: The band Wilco, definitely Tom Petty, Paul Simon, Talking Heads. Those are artists that sometimes people draw comparisons to, but I’m not sure we’re necesarily like them. It’s more that we respect what they do as bands and artists that have made lifelong careers. They have longevity, they’ve lasted and will keep lasting, they’re not a Top 40 radio hit.
Patch: How has your appearance on The Sing Off helped your career?
Ellsworth: To have any sort of national television exposure is a good thing. It’s definitely been helpful. It’s pretty different from what we do as a band. We incorporate a lot of harmonies into our music, but I wouldn’t say we’re necessarily influenced by a capela music though it’s sort of a part of what I do now.
Patch: What’s your song-writing process?
Ellsworth: It varies all the time, but sometimes I’ll approach the band with a finished song or sometimes I’ll come with an unfinished idea, and we flush it out as a band, and the song, the lyrics and that come in different ways.
Patch: Is there a story behind Shoe Fits?
Ellsworth: I wrote that in my house in Nashville. I wrote it originally on our piano. It ended up taking a lot more synth, a little bit more electronic sound. That’s one where I had this skeletal outline of a song, and I brought it to the band, and through a series of writing sessions and rehearsals it changes into what it is now.