Though the Grand Rapids classic rock/blues/reggae fusion group The Legal Immigrants has been in existence for almost two years now, the band was well-kept secret -- until now. That was when a series of networking victories led exposure with a drastically higher profile.
"It's all networking," Joe Sommerdyke (lead guitar) said. "We just kept meeting people and getting bigger and better shows."
It started in the first few months of 2011, around the time the band entered the studio with Papa Vegas Frontman Joel Fergusson. At the same time, the band landed an opening slot for the band Rusted Root at The Orbit Room. A series of connections made at that show led to appearances on Wood TV 8's "eightWest" and on Fox17 News. By summer, The Legal Immigrants went on to win a battle of the bands at Club Envy in Muskegon during Muskegon Summer Celebration, allowing the chance to play alongside Sugar Ray and Night Ranger.
"Until then, we were just playing low-key local shows at small bars that weren't actually designed for concerts," Sommerdyke said. "We've always had the same network of fans -- friends and friends of friends. Now we have people who are coming out because they heard us by word of mouth."
With the blessing of a pre-existing fan base, the band is wrapping up its debut full-length album with the goal of a September release. According to Sommerdyke, the timing couldn't be better.
"We're tenfolds better than we were two years ago," Sommerdyke said. "You write these songs and they change over time. It's like writing an English paper. You might start with a rough draft, and then you fine tune it until it's ready to submit."