Grace Potter says jamming with Gov’t Mule is one of her fave pastimes



By Steve Newton

Partway through Gov’t Mule’s astonishing three-hour set at the Commodore last November, a stunning lady joined them for a killer version of “Honky Tonk Woman”. The spotlight-stealer on that occasion was Grace Potter, frontwoman for the night’s opening act, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. Turns out jamming with the mighty Mule is one of her favourite pastimes.

“It was a lotta fun, dude,” Potter says, calling from a coffee shop in Flagstaff, Arizona. “It was a really cool thing with them because they’re such musical people, we were often on the same page with our influences. So what was gonna be just a coupla random sit-ins turned into an almost every-night affair.”

Since Potter is prone to playing the Hammond B-3 organ while belting out her songs, one of her influences might be Gregg Allman. Then again, since she’s only 24, perhaps Potter’s a bit young to have been influenced by southern rockers from the ’70s.

“No, no, I’m not a bit young for anything,” she counters. “I really did listen to pretty much all that music. The Allman Brothers were always playing in the background throughout my high school and middle school. I remember hopping in the cool kids’ car to get a ride to the party or whatever, and they’d be playing the Allman Brothers, you know. Even though it wasn’t part of my generation, it was finally being appreciated the way it should be.”

Potter and the Nocturnals recently joined Allman Brothers/Gov’t Mule member Warren Haynes and 13 other acts on a Jam Cruise that sailed the Caribbean, but even though Potter hails from the jam-band hotbed of Vermont, she has mixed feelings about being filed under that label. “I’m lucky to be doing what I’m doing,” she states, “so I’m not gonna complain. But the only thing that I have in common with the jam world is that I like to play live all the time.”

Potter’s third and latest CD, This Is Somewhere, is a poppy and polished outing that sees her eschewing her rootsy origins for a more mainstream, adult-contemporary vibe. For a better idea of what the singer is all about concertwise, check out her YouTube video from the 2006 Jammy Awards, where she leads a star-studded cast through Neil Young’s deathless “Cortez the Killer”.

“We had been nominated for a couple of awards,” Potter recalls, “but we weren’t gonna come because we were getting ready to make our record. They said, ‘Listen, if you play we’ll let you pick the song, and Joe Satriani and Steve Kimock and all these other musicians that are gonna be there, they’ll have to do whatever you say.’

“It’s been a long time since that happened,” she continues, “but it really paid off. Not a day goes by that someone doesn’t come up to me and talk about that.”

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