Contiki Loves ‘Daniel Ellsworth & The Great Lakes’ and You Should Too!

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Travel & music lovers – need a boost in your travel soundtrack for 2013?  Look no further!  Contiki wants to share why we <3 Daniel Ellsworth & The Great Lakes, whose song “Shoe Fits” was featured in Contiki’s “Shout iPhone App” video earlier this year.

The band consists of Daniel Ellsworth (lead singer, keys, acoustic guitar), Timon Lance (electric guitar), Joel Wren (drums) and Marshall Skinner (bass guitar).  Tim Weber of Good Music All Day, stated they were “The next big thing:  think Black Keys meets Mumford & Sons combined with that lil extra something and you have Daniel Ellsworth & the Great Lakes…These guys are going to blow up, QUICK.”

We got the opportunity to ask Daniel Ellsworth & The Great Lakes a few questions while they are touring the country.  Check out our Q&A with the band below!


Tell us a little bit of background on Daniel Ellsworth & The Great Lakes and how you became a band

Daniel: I used to travel and play as a solo singer-songwriter. It was a couple of years before I figured out that I hated playing that way.  I had always wanted to play in a band, but fell into the singer-songwriter thing because, at the time, it was easier.  A few years ago I put out an EP and titled it “Daniel Ellsworth & The Great Lakes.” It was material a little more catered towards full band, and I used it as a bridge to try and start putting a group of guys together.  Long story short – Joel (drums), Marshall (bass), and I have been playing together for the past 2 years. Timon (guitar) has been with us for the past year.  We’ve been touring, officially, as Daniel Ellsworth & The Great Lakes, for one year.

Your song, ‘Shoe Fits’, is featured on Contiki’s “Shout” app video.  What’s the background behind the song?

Daniel: I wrote that song on an old upright piano in my house.  When I brought it to the band, and we started working the arrangement up, I kept hearing that melody as more of a synth line. It was the first song that ever brought synthesizers into our sound.  The track ended up being the first single off of our album Civilized Man.

It went on to be listed as Amazon MP3’s #7 song of 2011. It’s still easily one of our favorites to play.

Marshall: That song took on a life of its own once Daniel brought it to the band.  I remember coming up with the stomp and clap part in Daniel’s basement and not knowing it would be such an important part of the song.  It was just a fun song to write, and even more fun to record.

What’s your favorite part of traveling & touring?

Timon: I get a kick out of both playing different clubs every night and meeting crazy people at shows and every stop in-between.

Some of the venues we perform at have been around for decades and some of my heroes have played there too. It’s feels great to be a part of that history and perform on the same stages. Secondly, I can’t count the number of seemingly insane or incredibly interesting folks we’ve met while touring. Everyone has a story and I’m always anxious to hear what people have to say about music, their town, and their background.

Joel: I love the idea of being in a different city each day. Some cities we get to see a lot of and some we only pass through for 8 hours, but the idea of seeing so many places has always appealed to me. Also, spending countless hours crammed together w/ 3 other guys might seem miserable, but we do have a lot of fun.

Daniel: I love driving. I love seeing different parts of the country, even if it is for short periods of time.  I love seeing other cities and towns and experiencing them for a day.  I think what I love the most, though, is meeting new people every night. We’ve met so many amazing, lovely, interesting people on the road – people who we now consider dear friends (and some that we don’t). People who take you in and make you feel welcome – like you are a part of their city.

Traveling is a constant reminder that there are so many good people out there. That’s the best part for me.

Marshall:  I’d have to say seeing sunsets in some of the northern/mountain states.  You haven’t seen a sunset until you’ve been to Wyoming.  It’s stunning.

What are some of your favorite travel destinations?

Timon: Chicago is certainly a band favorite. We’ve played several venues there, most notably Schuba’s, Beat Kitchen, and The Subterranean. An older city like that is home to many well-worn, beautiful venues. Chicago’s concert-going crowd is always welcoming, attentive, and sometimes a little rowdy, which we love.

Joel: I love Seattle so much. I don’t mind the dreary weather at all. Any place that’s near water is a treat for us being landlocked in Nashville. Seattle also has some of the greatest bars and restaurants that I’ve visited in recent memory. I also really enjoy Austin. That place also has so many different cool areas and hotspots scattered all over the city. I could probably live either place.

Daniel: Some of our favorite cities to play are Chicago, Seattle, and Columbus (Ohio).  The crowds in those places are amazing.  Also Colorado, New York, LA, San Francisco, anywhere in California…is this too many? I like a lot of places.

Marshall: We had a chance to play in Yosemite National Park earlier this year and that has to be one of the most special places on Earth.  Also Seattle is absolutely a fantastic city.  It has everything to offer.  Mountain views, ocean, good food, great bars and even better, great people.

Do you have any travel rituals and/or travel souvenirs that happen when you’re on the road?

Timon: I don’t think that any of us collects anything while we’re out, but we ofter try to stop into local vintage clothing and thrift stores. You never know what you’re going to find, as opposed to the hundreds of chain stores. The unpredictability and the idea that you can only get this one thing in one location is sort of a dying thing and it’s fun to find those spots in each town, when we have time.

Joel: We do try our best to sample the best food we can find in each city. We’re pretty big on late night diners, too. Nothing better than eating really good diner food at 2 in the morning after a killer show. We’ve also become somewhat donut connoisseurs. Sometimes we pick which restaurant to eat at depending on whether or not there are donuts close by.

Daniel: We like donuts and record stores. Donuts are awesome. If a city has a place that’s known for it’s donuts, we try to make it a point to stop.  We’re also music nerds who love collecting vinyl. At this point, it feels like we’ve been in most of the independent record stores this country has to offer.  If we ever have time to kill, we look up the nearest record store and head straight there. Donuts are awesome.

Marshall: Donuts.  Seriously, we’ve eaten a lot of donuts now. Probably too many, but we stopped caring.

What are some travel destinations you would love to travel to, but haven’t had a chance to see yet?

Timon: We would love to tour Europe. I think that’s on all of our radar. As soon as possible. Maybe 2013 will be the year.

Joel: I’m ready to go international. I’ve never been to Canada and I can’t wait to play shows there. We’ve been very lucky to see so much of the states this past year and I’m extremely thankful for that.

But…international dates will be slammin.

Daniel: Europe. Definitely Europe. Or Australia. Or anywhere outside of the U.S. really.  That’s the goal for 2013.

Marshall: Canada, Australia, Europe, any Island that I need a boat and or an airplane to get to.  I’d love to see Japan too, I love sushi.


Thanks guys!  We wish you much success while you’re on the road! And if you didn’t get a chance to check it out, here’s the Contiki Shout iPhone app video, featuring “Shoe Fits”!  If you are currently booked on a Contiki, get this free iPhone app and start sharing your adventures today!

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