By Thom Jennings
The Tonawanda News
— Grace Potter and the Nocturnals have been thrilling audiences for 10 years, building their reputation the hard way, with extensive touring and establishing themselves as one of the best live bands around.
The circumstances that led to my landing an interview with Grace are almost too hard to believe. At the risk of sounding trite, it was literally a dream come true.
If you are wondering what all the fuss is about, you can check out Grace Potter and the Nocturnals Sept. 11 at The Town Ballroom in Buffalo. I have no doubt the show will sell out, so I suggest you don’t hesitate buying tickets.
To get you ready for the show, I am proud to present part one of a two-part interview with Grace Potter conducted by phone the night before she was scheduled to appear with The Avett Brothers in Canandaigua.
QUESTION: I was just listening to a great recording of your 2010 show at The Town Ballroom, you guys killed it that night.
ANSWER: Oh thanks, I remember one show there that we almost had to cancel in the dead of winter, but we didn’t, and we had a crazy time there. There weren’t a lot of people there and it was the first time we played at The Town Ballroom. I really like the space there and I am looking forward to coming back and stretching it out a bit, and taking requests and all that kind of stuff.
Q: Well that leads nicely to my next question. Every time I see you on a bill opening for anyone it drives me crazy. I can’t believe at this stage of your career you are opening for anyone, because you are such an amazing live performer. How do you feel about sharing the bill with other artists?
A: Well, I think we are hedging our bets there. When the opportunity arises to play a show versus not playing one at all and we can route through the area, we will take it. When you have the opportunity to play with The Tragically Hip and The Avett Brothers, you know you are going to get exposure in front of some new people. We are not too proud to do that. There is going to be a time soon, especially with more and more fans coming on, that we will need the time to stretch out as the headliner, but if it means the difference between playing a show in an area now or not coming through in six months, we will play the show. Besides, the Avetts are dear friends and we love hanging out with them.
Q: Well I have seen those bands that stretch it out; Gov’t Mule comes to mind with their three-hour shows. With the way you perform, I don’t know if it’s physically possible for you to keep up that level of intensity for three hours.
A: Oh I could! But I don’t know if I should! It probably wouldn’t be good for my vocal chords but as for the jumping around, I am a real cardio freak. The music works me up into a lather and I can’t help myself. Some nights I say I am going to take it easy and by the end of the night, what do ya know, I got my shoes off, throwing things, dancing all around and I’m jumping off of risers and crawling all over my organ. I just can’t help myself. As far as the time of a set ... I think (Mule) fans come into the evening knowing it’s going to be a long night and they can dip out to have a beer without missing a whole song, whereas what we do when I construct a set list is to make it very fast-paced. That’s not to say that we don’t jam out, because we do. But for what we do and our style it wouldn’t make sense to go beyond two-and-a-half hours. We did the four-hour sets back in the day when we were a bar band trying to keep people drinking all night, but that doesn’t serve our purpose now.
Thom Jennings writes a weekly column on the music scene for Sunday Lifestyle. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.