New Jersey Stage
New Jersey Stage on social media


This article is from our magazine. To view it in its original format, click here

Grace Potter

By Gary Wien

originally published: 11/21/2015

Grace PotterFor more than a decade, Grace Potter and The Nocturnals have been a fixture on the jam band scene, playing the largest music festivals with a distinctive rock and roll sound that defied easy categorization.  Some songs were bluesy, some rocked hard, some sounded like alternative rock and some sounded rootsy, but they were all held together via the powerful and soulful vocals of Grace Potter.  In August, she released Midnight, her first solo record and she’s currently on a tour that will bring her to the tri-state area in December.

The record surprised many long-time fans of the band because it takes her songwriting in completely different directions. In fact, some say it’s closer to a pop album than anything else.

“I wouldn’t say this is a pop record,” explained Potter.  “It’s poppier than anything I’ve done before, but more than anything it was great to unleash the preconceived notions and parameters that I’ve set for myself about having to write for the band and write for my fans.  I was in this very people pleasing mode for many years where I wanted to write what I thought other people would like and what other people would dig.  And so this record was an opportunity for me to explore the things that make me happy and fulfill me as a songwriter.”

“The bands and artists that captivate me are the ones who are always pushing it, always taking risks,” she continued.  “A great musician can shine in any genre.  I refuse to make the same record over and over — that’s not how art works for me.  The worst thing an artist can do is what is expected of them.”

The record’s title holds special meaning for Potter. She was born at midnight, on the cusp of Gemini and Cancer.  And even though she says she’s not very much into astrology, the fact that if she had been born just a few minutes later would have changed her astrological sign has meaning for her.



The article continues after this ad

 


“From the day I was born I was ready to jump off into another thing,” said Potter.  “My momentum has always been very much forward.  I’m more of a river than a lake.  I don’t like being stagnant.  And so, for me, midnight is this transient term.  It is a sense of timeliness, a sense of where we are at any given moment.  The tour, the album, and everything about the record is meant to feel like a moment frozen in time.  Midnight only lasts for a moment, but the feeling of midnight lasts for the rest of the night.  You get the sense that now we’ve crossed the point of no return.  Once it’s midnight, then it’s one in the morning, two in the morning.  Suddenly your space time continuum shifts in some way and your perception of time changes.”

Midnight was recorded and mixed at Barefoot Studios in Hollywood with producer Eric Valentine, who has worked with bands like Good Charlotte, Third Eye Blind, Smash Mouth, Queens of the Stone Age, and Nickel Creek.  Even though the record is a solo project for Potter, members of The Nocturnals (guitarists Scott Tournet and Benny Yurco, drummer Matt Burr, and bassist Michael Libramento) contributed to the sessions along with former tour-mates and friends like Rayland Baxter, Audra Mae, Noelle Skaggs of Fitz & the Tantrums, Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips, and Nick Oliveri of Queens of the Stone Age.

The songs on Midnight began in her Vermont home two years ago.  She had been experimenting with making demos that featured the types of sounds, beats, and melodies that she had never tried before.  For her, taking a chance was more about breaking away from the sound The Nocturnals was known for rather than worrying about creating something that wouldn’t be played on the radio.  In the end, she created an album that showcases her musical influences and creativity in unexpected ways.  Many artists release solo albums that rarely stray from the same music they’ve been creating with their band.  Potter’s record does the opposite.  This is a true solo project.  One that dares to go into new corners and offers a message of embracing life’s unexpected twists and turns; a message that largely originated from a single song.

She recalls the night the album’s first single, “Alive Tonight,” was conceived. “It was a dark, stormy, moody day and I could hear the thunder in the distance — these big ominous clouds were rolling in fast.  There was something about that threat of inclement weather beyond my control that just made me vibrate with anticipation and adrenaline, so I channeled it into this heavy boogie song —it goes right for the throat and says, ‘Own your existence on earth, because who knows what’s gonna happen next.’ That solitary moment guided everything that followed, and ‘Alive Tonight’ was the beginning of it.”

Grace is excited to bring these songs to life alongside the music she’s written for her band over the past 13 years.  Her tour includes stops at BergenPAC in Englewood, NJ and the Paramount Theatre in Asbury Park.   She describes the upcoming tour as a “dynamic combination of rock and roll, psychedelic explorations, pop music, dancing, sitting down, and standing up” — a little of everything.

“There are a lot of very passionate and powerful moments in the show that play out for me like a movie,” she explained.  “I like to write out the setlist according to the mood of the day.  It’s always different and it’s always about the energy in the room, but the show, if anything, has been pumped up on steroids! All of the music that I’ve written over all of these years is presented in a way that is very much more true to the album version.  It’s the closest we’ve gotten back to the original arrangements.  There’s not quite as many long and extended jams. There’s more musicality and more exploration with less infrastructure.  That was just muscle memory in the way we became a band, we jammed.  I had to remove the jam in order to put it back in and make it feel musical.  And now it’s flowing effortlessly from the new album to all of my work with The Nocturnals.”

A mix of interesting covers from big band swing to psychedelic rock to new wave, grunge, and even disco helps make this tour unique.  The tour has already seen her cover a Nirvana song, perform a song she’s done with Kenny Chesney, and even do “Something That I Want” (a song she had on the Tangled film soundtrack) after someone screamed for it from the audience.

While this is Grace Potter’s first solo album to be released, it’s not the first time she’s recorded one.  Several years ago, she recorded an album with T Bone Burnett during a period of time in which The Nocturnals were having some troubles as a band and their future was in doubt.  To this day, Potter isn’t sure why the record was never released.

“I don’t know, I really wish it had come out,” said Potter.  “It’s a record that I’m proud of.  I just recently listened to it again and it’s a special body of work.  I can’t speak for the record company, but maybe they felt it was a little too mature for me.  I was still a young woman in my early twenties when I made that record and it is very mature, very timeless the way T-Bone’s records sound.  A lot of T Bone’s stuff is not aiming for a market as much as aiming for a vibe and an atmosphere, and that is definitely captured.  But who knows? I’m sure it will see the light of day at some point.”

When the news hit about the record, fans were confused and worried about the future of The Nocturnals.  While the future of the band is still unknown, it’s common for lead singers who write the songs to release solo projects from time to time.  Sometimes it is a sign that they have moved on from the band, but generally it’s just a side project.  The fact that band members contributed to the disc is a positive one for fans of The Nocturnals, as is this quote from Potter.

“Loyalty has always been really important to me and so has evolution,” said Potter.  “It’s hard sometimes to understand that they don’t need to be at odds.  The band is an extension of me.  They are my family and a huge part of my life.  I have no intention of burning bridges or leaving it in the dust.”

Grace PotterUPCOMING AREA SHOWS FOR GRACE POTTER

Wednesday, December 2  

Bergen Performing Arts Center

Englewood, NJ

Friday, December 4

The Paramount Theatre

Asbury Park, NJ

Friday, December 11  

The Fillmore

Philadelphia, PA

 

 

 

 





For more by this author, click here






The Jersey Shore Music Scene To Celebrate The Life Of Bob Colyard On November 18
(ASBURY PARK, NJ) -- Memorial Day weekend was somber this year for the Jersey Shore music community who lost one of its biggest supporters in Bob Colyard.  An avid music fan who often went to live shows in Asbury Park, Colyard, 68, passed away on May 20th after a bike ride through the Manasquan Bike Trail.  The music community will gather to remember Bob on Sunday, November 18th at The Saint in Asbury Park.  An afternoon of music featuring several of Bob's favorites will run from 11:00am to around 4:30pm. Admission is $10 and proceeds will be donated to Musicians On A Mission.  
SOPAC Presents The Klezmatics
(SOUTH ORANGE, NJ) -- The foremost and best-loved Klezmer band, The Klezmatics, offer a program from their Grammy Award-winning collaboration with Woody Guthrie’s lyrics for Hanukkah. The Klezmatics bring their hip, East Village sensibility to the South Orange Performing Arts Center on Thursday, November 29 at 7:30pm.
Mayo Presents Dave Koz & Friends
(MORRISTOWN, NJ) -- Santa Koz is coming to town! Multi-Grammy® nominee and saxophonist extraordinaire Dave Koz returns to Mayo Performing Arts Center for a spirited holiday celebration on Monday, December 3 at 7:30pm. Tickets range from $49-$89. Special Guests joining Dave this year will be saxophonist Mindi Abair, guitarist Jonathan Butler, keyboard sensation Keiko Matsui and vocalist Sheléa.
Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts Presents An Evening of Holiday Music with Musicale Amice
(BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ) -- Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts (WIPA) continues its Salon Series with an Evening of Holiday Music featuring Musicale Amice on Thursday, December 6 at 7:30pm at 60 Locust Avenue in Berkeley Heights. Wine, cheese, and hot cocoa will be served and the concert will end with a festive sing-along. Tickets are $12 for adults, $6 for seniors, and free for Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts students. Tickets are available at the door or by calling 908-790-0700.
The Life Of Tom Richards To Be Celebrated On Saturday, November 17
(WALL TOWNSHIP, NJ) -- The cover story of New Jersey Stage magazine Issue 44 was on Tom Richards, a musician born and raised in New Jersey, and his battle with an aggressive and incurable form of cancer.  At the time, Tom believed he had a year or two left and was fighting to complete an album in that time.  Sadly, Tom lost his battle on October 2, 2018.  A  celebration of his life will take place at the O'Brien Funeral Home in Wall Township on Saturday, November 17 from noon to 4:00pm.


Charlie Thomas’ Drifters, The Classics IV, and The Brooklyn Bridge LIVE! at The Strand, Lakewood
The stars are out this Saturday Oct. 26, 2018 evening in Lakewood, NJ for a “Golden Oldies” concert featuring Charlie Thomas’ Drifters, The Classics IV, and The Brooklyn Bridge!
PODCAST: Grammy Winner Terri Lyne Carrington At TD James Moody Jazz Festival
Drummer, leader, and composer Terri Lyne Carrington made history as the first woman to win a Grammy for Best Instrumental Jazz for her album “Money Jungle: Provocative in Blue.” Now, she brings her interpretation of Duke Ellington’s “Money Jungle” to the TD James Moody Jazz Festival at NJPAC on November 11, 2018, as part of a program called “Jazz Vinyl Revisited.” Producer Susan Wallner talks to Carrington about her connections to the jazz greats Clark Terry and Max Roach; her newest project, the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice; and why she thinks drummers make natural leaders.
Sha Na Na LIVE! at the Newton Theatre
The audience is streaming into the Newton Theatre auditorium in Newton, NJ this Friday, Oct. 19, 2018 for a live concert starring Sha Na Na!
"Magical!" Poco LIVE! at SOPAC
Music fans are filing into the beautiful South Orange Performing Arts Center auditorium on this gorgeous Saturday, October 13, 2018 evening for a performance by a group that helped to define the genre of country rock — Poco!
“I Felt the Love!” Diana Krall’s “Turn Up the Quiet” Tour LIVE! at the State Theatre
Many years ago, after Tony Bennett made a singing appearance on The Tonight Show, host Johnny Carson told him how great his voice sounded that night. When Bennett appeared surprised, Carson asked him if there was anything different about his voice, and Bennett sheepishly replied, “I have a cold.”










Event calendar
Monday, Nov 12, 2018


MUSIC

DAVID SANCIOUS & WILL CALHOUN @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:00pm

WHEN BROADWAY GOES DARK, VAN DYK GOES LIVE @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 7:00pm

Bickford Benefit All-Stars @ Bickford Theatre at the Morris Museum, Morristown - 7:30pm

In Dreams: Roy Orbison in Concert – The Hologram Tour @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 7:30pm

MUDDFEST 2019 @ Mainstage @ Union County Performing Arts Center (UCPAC), Rahway - 7:00pm


THEATRE

Elf The Musical @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 7:30pm

Auditions: Cinderella or the Story of Bigfoot @ Studio Playhouse Upper Montclair, Upper Montclair - 6:30pm







FILM

Free Solo @ The Newton Theatre, Newton - 7:00pm


LITERATURE


View all events










 






















For more on our awards, click here








New Jersey Stage © 2018 by Wine Time Media, LLC | PO Box 140, Spring Lake, NJ 07762 (732) 280-7625 | info@newjerseystage.com

Images used on this site have been sent to us from publicists, artists, and PR firms.
If there is a problem with the rights to any image, please contact us and we will look into the matter.