New Jersey Stage
New Jersey Stage on social media

Did you know NJ Stage offers FREE Event Listings? Nearly 100,000 listings were viewed in January. Be sure to add your events to our calendar and get your shows noticed!

Grace Potter and The Nocturnals

By Gary Wien

Grace Potter and The Nocturnals are a band from Vermont that's as close to breaking big-time as you'll ever find. You've most likely heard their song "Ah Mary" blaring on the radio over the summer or read about their debut record, "This Is Somewhere", that critics everywhere are raving about. The band returns to New Jersey for a date at The Stanhope House on Wednesday, September 5th. Upstage had a chance to talk to Grace Potter during a brief break in the band's touring schedule.

Congrats! The record is getting incredible reviews.
Awesome! I don't read them, but that's really great.

One review stuck out for me. The first line from a USA Today review of the CD said, "Proof positive that signing with a major label doesn't necessarily screw things up." I know the band held off signing for a while, were you worried a label would screw things up for you?
Well, I do think that labels can get their mitts on a little more than a band is willing to let go of. Obviously, Hollywood Records is not one of those labels. But when we were looking into label possibilities there were even some indie labels that pretty much point blank said, 'we're not going to let you do what you want to do because we're a smaller label and we need to make sure that it's done right. We don't have enough money to be mucking around letting you guys have all the freedom in the world. We know what we want and what we will and won't let you do.' And that's why it took us so long to find a label become some labels were pretty brutally honest about what they weren't going to sacrifice.

It seems like there's a struggle in the way the media tries to portray you as above the band. Were there labels trying to change things about the band as well?
Not so much. I think most of the label people that have been excited about us were always after my voice... the voice. It's not really about the music. My songwriting took a backseat and especially the other members of the band that have put so much time and energy into what's going on, people just want to brush that aside. That can really be frustrating, but there was no one particular label that clearly wanted to "Gwen Stefani" me and another that didn't. It was really just everybody. I'm a woman and I do sing really loud and I write the songs so naturally they are sometimes going to stick me up front more than I deserve to be.

Were there people trying to approach you with songwriters you should be working with?
Oh totally! Songwriting in general is considered a disposable object. If the lead singer's pretty or if he or she has a good voice then just stick some songwriters with them and that will fix everything according to the industry. And I think that's a very universal thought - even for the indie places. They'll be casual about it; they'll find your favorite songwriters - someone you respect greatly - and they'll pair you with them. So, at least you think you're co-writing.

It's a frustrating thing and it happens all of the time. It's the whole 'don't tell the band theory' and it's very easy to get roped into all of that, but we're aware of it. We've read lots of biographies, so we kind of know what traps to avoid. But it is a constant struggle. I think we're lucky. The label we're at has a lot of freedom and they've had success in completely other realms like High School Musical and Hillary Duff. We actually have more freedom because of that.

It seems like this record plays into the idea that the band has been stressing the desire to build a long career. When labels start wanting you to work with certain people, they're obviously looking for hits.
Yeah, they want hits and they want it to all happen really quickly. The thing is that we're not a fast moving band. We've been together for five years now and we're only just hitting this point now - which a lot of bands don't even get to because of how fast they're trying to run and how hard they're trying to succeed. The immediacy is not important to us, so trying to get a hit is the opposite of what we're doing. Obviously, I would love to write a great pop song that gets on the radio because it would deter some of the other shit music that's on the radio right now!

Songs from "This Is Somewhere" are doing really well on NPR and Triple A stations.
Sure, I mean it would be nice to spread outside of that, but I'm very happy and content in that world. That's kind of the music I grew up listening to.

And that's where music fans nowadays are listening.
Absolutely! People who remember what rock and roll was.

The band definitely made its mark with live shows and festivals. You've always been referred to as part of the jam band scene, but the record is much more straight forward. Do you think of the band as a jam band? Or as a touring band?
I think we're a touring band. I think rock and roll was always jam. Back in the '70s before they made up that word, I think that's what was actually going on. There's really no genre to jam. There are a few bands that sound the same and are all trying to sound like Phish or The Grateful Dead, but we're not like that.

I think the great rock bands of the '70s that we loved - The Who, Led Zeppelin, The Band, The Rolling Stones - these guys were all what would now be construed as jam band music because they toured their asses off.

Tell me about the band's name. How did The Nocturnals come about? Late night parties, rehearsals, insomnia?
Rehearsals. There was only one space on our college campus where you could rehearse at and there were so many other bands on campus that the only rehearsal times we could get started at two in the morning. So our rehearsals started at two and moved on from there. The sun would be coming up as we'd be loading our amps in our cars and getting ready to finish our homework and go to class. The reality sunk in. Late night is where the creative stuff happens, I guess!

Well from the outside, it definitely seems like the band is pretty closeknit. It that how it really is?
Very much so. We're very collaborative and we love each other. I think there's a real sense of camaraderie. I didn't just hire these guys to be my backing band, that was never the idea. We're all in this together. We've all been together since before there was any level of success.

Did you all start together when you were at college?
All of us except for our bass player, Brian.

Tell me about how the band joined up with your manager, Justin Goldberg, after reading his book on the music industry.
His book put into words what we thought we understood already and clarified some things that we did not understand.

Basically the idea was that we didn't need a record label. We never wanted a record label. Even before we knew Justin we had known we weren't really that kind of band. We just wanted to tour and what we were looking for was a manager that could allow us to do that and not push us too far too soon. Someone to recognize that our music is still growing and developing and once we get the right sound together we might be ready for that, but not yet. When the labels came a knockin' a few months after we signed with Justin, he knew just what to do.

Reading that book was reality. It put into words all of the things that we knew were going on in the music industry but because we're from Vermont we didn't have access to the reality of it and he paraphrased it perfectly.

Did it help you guys to be living away from the big cities like New York and Los Angeles? Was it good sort of being on the outside of all that?
I love it. We call L.A. the mouth of the dragon because being there is like being constantly bombarded by what is going on, what your chart ratings are, how many records have you sold, and
questions about what are you going to wear for the next TV event. Where we are you're not in front of that all of the time. It's not slapping you in the face, which is nice. Being in Vermont is the perfect way of escaping all that and grounding yourself amidst all the insanity.

Tell me about the title of the record "This Is Somewhere". It's been said that part of it is a play on the classic Neil Young album, but is there a particular somewhere that you're talking about? Is it like a state of mind?
Yeah, you're dead on. It's the idea that we as a collective have been together long enough to know who we are and what we want and no matter where we are we're still ourselves. And that we have to carry our torch with us wherever we go because nowhere you go is going to define you. We found that out while making a record in L.A. because that place can swallow you whole and turn you into what it wants you to be. So, the title for me was much more about that than it was the Neil Young reference; although I love the Neil Young reference.

Finally, I think the song "Lose Some Time" is an incredible ode to life on the road. I know you were a film student at Saint Lawrence, do you ever do any shooting of life on the road?
Totally man! Actually, the director of photography is our drummer, Matt. He has a video camera with him all of the time and we edit it together. We have some really great behind the scenes stuff.

Have you released any of it?
We have a couple of two-minute videos up on YouTube that are from the sessions in the studio. It brings you through the drama and the exciting moments. We are actually planning on releasing a DVD that walks you through our whole crazy life and shows you some tidbits from the road. That's still in the works, but being a film student I am certainly inspired to pursue that side of things. I would love to illustrate it for people in a cool little package.

For more by this author, click here

Light of Day's Main Event To Be Broadcast Live at McLoone's Supper Club
(ASBURY PARK, NJ) -- If you couldn't get tickets for the fabled "main event" of the 2019 Light of Day Winterfest, you have another chance see the show.  For the first time in the 19-year history of the festival, the "main event", the star-studded “Bob’s Birthday Bash” on January 19th (a show that has long sold out), will be broadcast live via fiber optic cable at McLoone's Supper Club in Asbury Park.
Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts To Hold Winter Open House On January 27
(BERKELEY HEIGHTS) -- Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts (WIPA) will host a Winter Open House on Sunday, January 27 from 1:00pm to 4:00pm. The free event is open to the public and will be held at the Performing Arts School (PAS) located at 60 Locust Avenue in Berkeley Heights.
Billy Idol and Steve Stevens To Perform At Count Basie Center For The Arts
(RED BANK, NJ) -- Billy Idol and Steve Stevens, one of rock’s most iconic and enduring duos, will hit the road this March for their first ever tour performing as a duo: Turned On, Tuned In and Unplugged. The Billy Idol/Steve Stevens tour comes to The Count Basie Center for the Arts on Thursday, April 4th.
McDonald's Gospelfest To Celebrate The Life of Aretha Franklin With Return to Prudential Center
(NEWARK, NJ) -- The 37th Annual McDonald’s Gospelfest returns to the Prudential Center on Saturday, May 11 for the gospel event of the year. This year's event will honor and celebrate the life and legacy of the “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin with an All-Star cast. The 5:00pm to 7:00pm portion of the evening will feature a rising stars competition for all ages and cultures in categories including Soloists, Choirs, Praise Dancers, Singing Groups, Gospel Comedians, Gospel Poets and Gospel Rappers. The gospel concert, beginning at 7:00pm, will feature some of the most renowned gospel artists in music history with the goal of spreading love, peace and joy to all races, nationalities and beliefs.
Bickford Theatre Presents Herb Gardner's Groundhog Jam
(MORRISTOWN, NJ) -- The great Groundhog Jam has a long history of prying jazz fans out of their warm burrows and into the chill of February weather in order to welcome the advent of spring.  The Bickford Theatre at the Morris Museum continues a tradition of hosting this event on Monday, February 4 at 7:30pm. Herb Gardner, who plays both trombone and piano, is assembling a stellar group of musicians from the New York, New Jersey, and New England areas including: Fred Vigorito on cornet, Joe Licari on clarinet, James Chirilloon guitar, Mike Weatherly on bass and Robbie Scott on drums.  Daughters Abbie and Sarah Gardner will be handling the vocals and guitar.

Scott Wolfson and Other Heroes At Riverside Rhythm & Rhyme
This coming Sunday, January 20, Scott Wolfson and his band will be serving up their unique blend of Americana at the Riverside Rhythm & Rhyme series at Investors Bank Theater in Succasunna, New Jersey. The band – Scott Wolfson and Other Heroes – formed in Jersey City in 2011, and, even though the members have migrated in various directions since then, they still consider themselves to be a Jersey City band.
"He Totally Wowed Us!" John Oates LIVE! at SOPAC
It’s brisk for an evening walk on South Orange Ave. in South Orange, NJ, this Friday, Jan. 4, 2019 evening, but it’s a good road to follow as it leads us directly to the South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) for a special performance by singer, songwriter, and guitarist John Oates and his backup group, The Good Road Band.
“Tons of Fun!” The Glenn Miller Orchestra LIVE! at the Grunin Center
Although Friday, December 21, 2018 is the shortest day of the year, the audience of big band music lovers here at Toms River, NJ’s Grunin Center for the Arts is hoping for a long evening of classic swing and holiday tunes performed by the incomparable Glenn Miller Orchestra!
Mike Davis and The New Wonders
Mike Davis traces his love for the trumpet back to a Disney movie. He grew up in a musical family, with both his parents playing strings in the Seattle Symphony. But Davis wanted an instrument of his own. Then, at age 9, he saw “The Aristocats,” the animated film about a bunch of French felines — including a group of jazz-playing alley cats.
Ana Gasteyer's "Holiday Tipple" LIVE! at the Grunin Center
The Grunin Center stage in Toms River, NJ is set this Saturday, December 15, 2018 with drums, a grand piano, a guitar, an acoustic bass, and various microphones for vocals. A stool and several microphone stands are bedazzled with colorful garlands of shiny red, gold, and green, and wrapped gifts are strewn on stage among the instruments. Projected white snowflakes adorn the walls, and Christmas music plays as patrons enter the theater to put everyone in the mood for tonight’s holiday show — Ana Gastayer’s Holiday Tipple!

Event calendar
Thursday, Jan 17, 2019


Open Mic Night! @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 7:30pm


"Apple Season" by E.M. Lewis @ New Jersey Repertory Company, Long Branch - 8:00pm


AMERICAN GIRL LIVE @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 7:00pm

View all events

New Jersey Stage © 2019 by Wine Time Media, LLC | PO Box 140, Spring Lake, NJ 07762 (732) 280-7625 |

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.