Grace Potter Submitted photo

Its been a long time between conversations with Grace Potter so when it was learned that she would be coming to the Waterville Opera House for a show on March 11, I reached out to see if the singer-songwriter would be available for another chat. I was supplied with a link to her latest album “Daylight,” which came out in 2019, and after listening to it multiple times I was more than ready to reconnect with the multi-instrumentalist to find out more about what’s been happening with her lately. The Vermont native and I were linked via a conference call arranged by her manager, Brendan O’Connell. Potter was over in Los Angeles while I was sitting here in Sweden. I began by telling her that I can’t seem to get enough of “Daylight.”

Q: What I love about it is that there are so many different moods, and there is such a variety to it, both lyrically and stylistically. What I don’t like is an album where every song sounds alike.
Potter: I know.

Q: No matter how much I like the group or individual, that kind of turns me off.
Potter: Well, it’s interesting, because all my favorite bands are kind of genre-less, from (David) Bowie and (Led) Zeppelin to even Janis (Joplin) who went wandering between backing bands and genres, to Etta James who always was like, “Alright, I’m happy to do whatever you want me to do, but this is the thing that my voice wants to do the best.” I don’t have a thing that my voice wants to do. I want to do everything. Music is a jungle-gym that I want to climb on, and I want to swing from every single rung. I don’t care how people put me in their record collection. I don’t care if I’m in the all-female section or the jungle-Tiki sound effects area; it doesn’t matter to me. What matters to me is that the clamoring, joyous spirit and truth behind a song be conveyed in the way that serves, not just the song, but the listener. I get so frustrated when a band gets caught up in their sound and you can hear where a song could really, really fly but it just won’t because the band has this preconceived notion of what they are supposed to be, you know?

Q: Yes, I do, I know exactly what you are talking about.
Potter: I think there are times where they can transcend that, like the Beatles many times did, and (they) did over and over again, continually cracking that egg open and letting it cook differently each time. But most bands don’t have that ability to zoom out on their sound and on their lives.

Q: And when they do, their record company says, “No, you can’t do that. It doesn’t sound anything like what you usually do!”
Potter: Right, right. And then there are comfort artists that you can hear, and you know you’re going to hear it and it’s going to make you feel the same way every time. There’s something to be said for that, too. Some people like to pick a lane; I don’t even want to have a road in front of me (laughter)!

Q: (Laughter) I hear that! Do you think that this is one of the best albums you’ve ever made?
Potter: It’s the most bare-bone naked I’ve ever stood in front of the world, so good and bad is a hard thing to determine there, because it makes me wildly uncomfortable, … because of how revealing it is. It’s like I’m a voyeur on my own life.


Q: On this record you don’t just wear your heart on your sleeve; every vital organ is there, as well.
Potter: Yes, yes, exactly! Yes, it feels like unity, the whole record does.

Q: I don’t mean to give you mental whiplash, but I’d like to switch topics and ask if you have ever performed in Maine solo before.
Potter: Yeah, I did that when I was 19 or 20. It was up at Colby (College), and I performed there. That was before the Nocturnals started. I was just starting to write songs and getting to what I wanted to be. I just packed my keyboard up and that was a very, very long time ago: 22 years ago.

Q: Have you performed at the Waterville Opera House?
Potter: I don’t think so. I don’t remember, but I don’t think so.

Q: Well, you are in for a treat, Joan Baez stood onstage and declared that it was one of the best sounding venues she had performed in.
Potter: Oh, man, I’m excited. That’s so incredible, I can picture Joan Baez up on that stage, and I love it.

Q: And Dar Williams opened for her, too.
Potter: Oh, wow, wow!

Q: And Waterville is where Colby College is, so you’re coming full-circle, for sure.
Potter: (Chuckle) Oh, that’s so funny; I love it!


Q: So, what can folks expect from your show there at the opera house?
Potter: Anything and everything is possible, man, especially when it’s a solo show, because I don’t have to worry about the band knowing the songs, so I can try anything. I’ve been playing a lot of solo stuff, especially during the pandemic, and so I’ve fine-tuned that instrument even more than my band shows. I really enjoy it. There’s just a flexibility to it, and the type of music I make invites in that kind of energy when I’m on stage by myself. I feel protective over the band when I’m performing with the band. I don’t like to put them in an uncomfortable position, so I rarely do that kind of thing if there was a band there. But that makes the audience more of my band mates; it’s a jam. I open things up for request, and I’ve had my solo show compared to Springsteen’s Broadway production. There’s a lot more storytelling, and there’s a lot more of the back stories to maybe not a song but an instance that inspired a group of songs, where maybe a collection of songs emerged from a certain era that everybody can relate to. So, sometimes I’ll pull that thread a little farther when I’m solo, because I feel like we’ve got more time. It’s like being in a living room with everybody and just hanging out.

Q: And solo like that, it must be very freeing and probably a little intimidating, as well.
Potter: Yeah, it’s both, absolutely. It’s that vulnerability of being intimidated takes me right back to being in high school and marching up onstage in my mud boots and my Carhartts and playing a song by myself for the whole high school. It was totally terrifying, but once I got up there, there was no stopping me.

Q: Is there anything, Grace that you’d like me to pass on to the folks reading this article?
Potter: Just that I’m so grateful and excited to get back onto the stage and to really connect with the audience again. I’ve desperately missed the connection with the crowd, and I’m looking forward to people bringing in their song requests, bringing in their stories and their feelings about whatever they’ve been through. This has been a long, strange extended winter, as far as live music goes, and I’m sure the theater itself will be lit from within to have people filling its seats again, I’m delighted to be coming there.

Lucky Clark, a 2018 “Keeping the Blues Alive” Award winner, has spent more than 50 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

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