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Grace Potter & the Nocturnals play IMU today

BY JORDAN MONTGOMERY | APRIL 26, 2012 6:30 AM

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The members of Grace Potter & the Nocturnals met at a small university in northern New York about 10 minutes from the Canadian border. With few places to practice and many other bands in the town, the band was often stuck with the latest rehearsal time at a local coffee house.

"We would always be out playing during the witching hour," said guitarist Scott Tournet. "So that is how the Nocturnals were born."

Rayland Baxter will open for Grace Potter & the Nocturnals at 8 p.m. today in the IMU Main Lounge. SCOPE and 10,000 Hours will present the show during this weekend's RiverFest events. Tickets are available at the IMU Box Office; general admission is $23.50.

The 10,000 Hours Show is a yearly initiative to encourage Iowans to volunteer 10 hours with local nonprofits. If that is accomplished and logged with the organization, participants earn a free ticket to the show.

"We had a good boost in hours the last two weeks," said 10,000 Hours outreach director Katie Priske. "We have been trying to really push the concert and push logging hours. We are going to announce how many total hours of volunteering there were at the show."

Grace Potter & the Nocturnal's late-night java-joint jam sessions occurred almost 10 years ago. The band has released three studio albums and toured almost continuously during that time. The group's fourth studio album will come out on June 12 — it's the first time the band has taken complete control in creating an album.

"Grace had a very clear vision and about how it should sound and what themes to cover," Tournet said. "So we were able to do it the way we wanted. [Making an album is] like seasoning a soup; you've got to be careful about a pinch of this and a dash of that."

In 2011, Potter collaborated with Kenny Chesney to create "You and Tequila," which peaked at NO. 3 on the U.S. country charts.

"We were really excited about them, because she is gaining a lot of buzz nationally right now," said SCOPE Public Relations Coordinator and former Daily Iowan employee Zoey Miller. "She transcends genres, combining aspects of soul, rock, and country, so they offer something for everyone in Iowa City."

The band started out as most bands do, emulating classic rock and roll bands the members looked up to. But in 10 years, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals has developed its own sound.

"We evolved into this bluesy roots band, and then all of a sudden, we were playing jam-band fests, so we were a jam band," Tournet said. "Because of the last album we put out, people said we were a pop band. Grace did a song with Kenny Chesney, so now we're a country band. We're letting people perceive us however they want, and we're just making moves that feel right to us."

What is more consistent than the style of songs is the electric live shows the members are known to put on. Their energetic reputation have landed them slots at such music festivals as Lollapalooza, Wakarusa, and, most recently, Cochella.

"We freak out onstage. I don't know what happens," Tourner said. "We've had six months off from being on the stage — it's the longest break we've ever had. There's an energy that we feed off of, and we just lose our sh**. We're sweaty, things are falling over, sh**'s broken, we give it our all."


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