A star is (finally) born

(Lauren Dukoff)
By Sarah Rodman
Globe Staff / August 20, 2011

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Q. Are you still spinning from Grand Point North?

A. Yeah. What a thrill. It was just such an unbelievable experience, such a sense of accomplishment. I’m totally on cloud nine right now.

Q. From the stage, Kenny Chesney called Grace Potter & the Nocturnals the best band in the world. No disrespect intended, of course, but had he been drinking?

A. I think he meant it as, like, the world of Vermont. (Laughs.) And he wasn’t that drunk, because I hung out with him afterward. He’s such an energized, whirling dervish of a dude, that when he’s in the moment, those things just come out of his mouth. First he said in America and then he corrected himself and said “no, the world.’’ (Laughs.)

Q. Will you be playing at Kenny’s shows at Gillette Stadium next weekend?

A. I think we are. My parents haven’t had the full Chesney experience, so I’m going to drag them down there.

Q. Since the release of your eponymous album in June of last year, you’ve had radio success with “Paris (Ooh La La),’’ killed it alongside Heart on a VH1 special, and played Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, and Grand Point North, plus the big hit with Kenny. It seems like your hard work is paying off. Do you feel like the band is reaching a tipping point?

A. It absolutely feels like that. It’s a critical mass. It’s like this stone has gathered so much moss that we could seriously lay down a whole golf course. (Laughs.) We’ve got a lot going on and it’s fun. And it’s feeling well-earned, [something] that we’ve nurtured from the beginning and not this lightning bolt shot in the dark - “Oh, wow, one big hit song and now we’re superstars.’’ That’s not how it’s going, and I love it. I prefer it that way.

Q. How much do you think “You and Tequila’’ has helped raise the band’s profile in addition to “Paris (Ooh La La)’’?

A. I’m not going to discredit it, and I’m not going to over-praise it. I really truly believe that in tandem with what’s going on, it was sort of this perfect storm. It doesn’t feel lopsided. It doesn’t feel like people think I’m a country singer now because I sang on this one song with Kenny. We had our rise and our big moment as a band and then right when our tour was raging and everything was going perfectly, this “You and Tequila’’ thing just jumped on top of that like a [expletive] leap frog and just continued. So definitely it’s giving us some steam to keep going.

Q. You’ve talked about feeling like you have new options. What are some of those?

A. We could make a country album right now, and it would be awesome. We’re not going to, but I’m just saying we could. We could go to Stax or Muscle Shoals and make an album that’s pure unadulterated soul with a horn section and nobody would blink an eye. I could put out an acoustic, sort of Eddie Vedder “Into the Wild’’ sort of album and nobody would be surprised.

Q. Why not do it all?

A. I’m thinking about it. My brain is in motion toward a new record right now, and I don’t know what direction to take it. But I do know that there’s just so many possibilities now. I’m just going to follow this path that we’ve been paving. And it just keeps getting wider and wider. I’m just dreaming big.

Q. Well, you don’t get to play stadiums by dreaming small. Just ask Kenny.

A. Exactly. I didn’t get into this business to dream small and be reasonable.

Interview has been edited and condensed. Sarah Rodman can be reached at

Grace Potter
The Vermont native and her band, the Nocturnals, are in town with the wind at their backs thanks to last weekend’s inaugural Grand Point North festival in Burlington, Vt. Co-organized by the band, the two-day fest drew upward of 7,000 fans to see the sassy Potter and her rocking quartet - lead guitarist Scott Tournet, drummer Matt Burr, bassist Cat Popper, and guitarist Benny Yurco - headline a diverse lineup that included blues veteran Taj Mahal, retro soul hipsters Fitz and the Tantrums, and a surprise appearance by Kenny Chesney. (The country superstar is Potter’s duet partner on the current Top 10 country hit “You and Tequila.’’) To borrow a phrase from a festival Potter and the Nocturnals played last summer, life is good. The always exuberant singer-songwriter was happy to confirm that by phone earlier this week.
Grace Potter & the Nocturnals headline the Bank of America Pavilion tonight at 7:30. Tickets: $30-$60. 800-745-3000.