The band was formed in Nashville, Tennessee in 2009, and currently consists of keyboardist/guitarist/singer Daniel Ellsworth from Minnesota, drummer Joel Wren from Kansas, guitarist Timon Lance and bassist Marshall Skinner both from Ohio. Former member(s) of the band include Ricky Perry who played guitar on their first album, Civilized Man.
In 2010, the band ran a Kickstarter campaign in order to fund their album, Civilized Man. The album was engineered and co-produced by Mark Nevers, who has also worked with Will Oldham, Andrew Bird, Yo La Tengo and Lambchop. The album was recorded at Beech House Studios in Nashville, Tennessee in early 2011, and was released digitally and physically in May 2011.
In late 2011, Amazon MP3 named Daniel Ellsworth and the Great Lakes’ album, Civilized Man, the number 76 album out of the top 100 albums of the year. At the same time, the online music retailer also named the band’s single, “Shoe Fits,” the number seven song of the year. On February 2, 2012, Civilized Man was featured as Amazon MP3‘s Daily Deal and the following week, the album charted on Billboard’s Heatseeker’s chart at position 18.
“Shoe Fits” was released as a music video on August 8, 2011, and was Directed and Produced by Austin Gros, in Nashville, Tennessee. The single was also featured on the Australian Television series Offspring and was included on their Season 3 Soundtrack, released in Australia on June 8, 2012.
The band released their second music video for the song “Bleeding Tongue” on June 6, 2012. It premiered on Paste Magazine.
Daniel Ellsworth & The Great Lakes was named by The Deli Magazine as Nashville’s Best Emerging Artist of 2012. The title was given based on a combination of fan voting and staff opinions.
In May 2013, Daniel Ellsworth & The Great Lakes entered the studio to record their second full-length album at Sputnik Sound in Nashville, Tennessee. The album was co-produced by Grammy Award winner Vance Powell, who has worked withThe Whigs, Kings of Leon, Jack White, and The White Stripes. The album is expected to be released in early 2014 with an extensive tour in support of the album. While in studio, the band was featured in an article in Paste Magazine, including an interview and a write-up saying “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.”
In anticipation of the band’s new album, Esquire named Daniel Ellsworth & the Great Lakes one of their 15 Bands to Watch in 2014.
The band’s second album, named Kid Tiger, is set to be released on March 4, 2014. The songs were written while the band was touring and represented a collaborative effort of the band members. The first single from the new record, entitled “Sun Goes Out”, was released on January 21, 2014.