Little Island Lake: Local band with unique, folksy sound

Regulars at Ypsilanti’s Woodruff’s and Ann Arbor’s Blind Pig know of local indie band Little Island Lake, who are celebrating the end of the school year along with the rest of us.

401003_10150604317319935_168685766_nListing all sorts of influences from Pink Floyd and Motown to Chromeo and My Morning Jacket, Little Island Lake consists of Bobby Voorhies on the banjo, acoustic guitar and vocals; JT Garfield on electric guitar and vocals; Mary Fraser on mandolin, organ, acoustic guitar and vocals; Zach Harris on bass and Eric Hurd on drums. The combination of the not-so-common instruments gives them a folksy, unique sound that not many bands around here have.

The band started in 2009, when Voorhies wrote a few songs, which ended up being a part of their debut album, “Jawbones,” and posted an advertisement on Craigslist saying he was looking to start a band. “Hey, that stuff can actually work,” Fraser said.

She responded to the ad and set up a meeting with Voorhies at Ypsilanti’s Ugly Mug to discuss the direction and concepts of Little Island Lake. A mutual friend introduced them to JT Garfield and the band began as a trio.

Harris became a part of Little Island Lake before their album debut, and while
they were recording “Jawbones,” Fraser played percussion. They planned on touring and playing live shows, though, in order to do that they would need a drummer. That was when Harris’ roommate, Hurd, entered the picture as Little Island Lake’s drummer.

“We just do what we love and let things unfold how they will,” said Garfield. “And as a band, I would say we love to ride bikes more than any other band in Ypsi,” he added.

“Jawbones” was released in July 2011, and since then, Little Island Lake has also recorded a live session album with Detroit’s up-and-coming Groovebox Recordings this past February. “GBS is doing some great things with independent artists,” Fraser said. “They help them raise money through a kickstarter to record a live album, all shot in one take. They also include a video.”

In addition to the regular Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor hotspots, Little Island Lake has also performed at the Corner Brewery and the Dreamland Theater, and festivals like The Totally Awesome Fest, The Michigan Roots Jamboree and Frog Holler Farm’s Holler Fest.

“We’ve also played more acoustic-type shows at Beezy’s Cafe, Crazy Wisdom Bookstore and Tea Room in Ann Arbor,” Fraser said.

Little Island Lake is venturing outside their comfort zone as well, playing shows in Kalamazoo, Lansing and even Traverse City.

“We don’t have any grand vision of world domination or anything of the sort. We don’t approach our music as a profit-making venture. Good music is the first priority,” said Voorhies.

Right now, Little Island Lake is in the process of recording a new album, which will feature vocals split evenly between Voorhies, Garfield and Fraser. They’ve been collaborating on songwriting as well. They’re very excited for the release, but don’t have a set date yet. It’ll be quite a bit different than “Jawbones,” because they’ll be using a full drumset. “It’ll have a more rock, live feel than the chill ‘Jawbones,’ ” said Fraser.

While their main focus is on their album right now, Little Island Lake will be playing at Woodruff’s and other places throughout the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti areas in the coming months. Keep an eye out for them and check out their albums, “Jawbones” and “Live at GBS” at

View the original post at the Eastern Echo.

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