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New indie rock EP features the work of Woodbury native

Across the album, in large letters is the word “Bemidji.”

The letters are on top of an old, faded postcard of the iconic Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox statues. This is the cover of Daniel Ellsworth & The Great Lakes’ latest EP, titled after this very city.

The question: Why?

It turns out that the Nashville, Tenn., band has ties to Minnesota: Daniel Ellsworth grew up in Woodbury, near St. Paul, and has family in the Bemidji area.

“My brother-in-law, his family has a cabin up in Bemidji, so we ... wrote a bunch of the songs from the last record (2014’s “Kid Tiger”) and the songs for this EP up in Bemidji. (Its title) came from the fact we wrote a bunch of our songs there,” Ellsworth said.

The indie rock band formed in 2010 in Nashville, where they met while going to college there. The band’s single “Passenger” was in an episode of “Grey’s Anatomy” and Esquire named the band one of the 15 Bands to Watch in 2014.

The band’s name also has a Midwest connection.

“It just so happens two of the other guys in the band are from Ohio, so three of the four of us are from a Great Lakes state,” Ellsworth said.

As for the cover art for “Bemidji,” Ellsworth said he found it online.

“It’s actually a super, super old postcard. I found it online and talked to the guy, who is a filmmaker who I think was originally from Bemidji, but doesn’t live there anymore, who has made some documentary films on the town,” Ellsworth said.

They emailed back and forth a few times, according to Ellsworth, asking him about the picture, and if the band was able to use it.

“He said it’s an old postcard, it doesn’t even say who the photographer is or anything. He found it at some store, and said it’s the only one like that he has seen. He has a high-resolution scan of it on his computer and he sent it over to us,” Ellsworth said.

But, he said, the title and picture has caught the eye of listeners.

“We’ve had people from Minnesota listen to it because they recognize the name and the picture. Most people don’t know how to say (Bemidji), and wonder what it is,” Ellsworth said.

Joe Froemming

Joe Froemming is a page designer for Forum Communications Co. You can read his blog at

You can follow him on Twitter @JosephBemidji

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