EllieMay Kay was born with a name destined for country music. Luckily, she’s got the voice, too”a honeyed twang that belies the fact that she’s actually a Midwesterner raised outside of Chicago. Now living in Nashville, the singer is committed to making a name for herself in the city that country dreams are made of. Like many a country artist, she knows how to paint a picture of a wholesome upbringing while infusing the lyrics with humor. Case in point: The Girl with the Fishin’ Rod, a honky-tonk boot-scooter about growing up country. While other girls primped and preened, Kay was out with Grandpa castin’ and reelin’ and catching looks from boys. You Get Me is a lazy love song that details all Kay’s quirks, from tie-dyed hippie shirts to midnight chocolate urges. On Beautiful As Usual the country coquette delivers a yawning, country pop nugget that rocks and rolls you . Trading the fishing rod for a mic was a smart move.
Coles Whalen is a woman who makes things happen. When she wanted to jumpstart her music career she bought a pickup truck, toured the country and sold CDs out of the back. Then, when opportunity knocked and kept knocking, she picked up her guitar to open for artists like Joan Jett, Pat Benatar, Rufus Wainwright, and yes, even Akon in Montreal, Nashville, Denver, and all points in between. But it isn’t just sheer will that’s gotten Whalen to where she is today. Her homespun blend of bluesy, swampy folk has something to do with it. On Wake Up Easy Whalen breezily sings, You’re making coffee, making the bed / I kind of feel like making something else instead. A languorous piano, creaking washboard and softly shaken percussion help create a mood of sleepy-eyed seduction. Those coy turns-of-phrases continue in The Getting Side, a bluesy mid-tempo strut where Whalen warns, If you’re giving your love, make sure it’s me on the getting side. A backwoods coquette, Whalen knows how to woo her listeners. Make sure you stay on the getting side with this one.
“Wake Up Easy” – Coles Whalen
While Canadian country singer-songwriter Danielle Bourjeaurd has been performing since before she can even remember, some pretty amazing things have been happening in her musical career as of late. This talented young woman”known for her incredible voice and stage presence”placed in the Top 2 for OurStage’s Capital Hoedown Showdown Competition, and we think she has what it takes to go all the way.
Bourjeaurd’s song “Way Too Late”, which was publicly released on Ottawa’s radio station Y101 in July, is now being played on Canadian country radio in all provinces. And because of her success throughout Canada, she has been nominated to play FanFest at the Canadian Country Music Awards. Show your support for Danielle, and check out her video “Way Too Late” here!
The recent Americana Music Awards in Nashville may be over, but Grace Potter’s still savoring her memories of the event.Besides mingling with such country, bluegrass and Americana heavyweights as Rosanne Cash, The Avett Brothers, the Courtyard Hounds, and John Mellencamp, Potter had the chance to chat with Robert Plant, who has embraced Americana despite his long rock legacy.
“It was so awesome. My life was changed forever,” said Potter. “Not only did I meet Robert Plant, but he knew who I was. I was completely bowled over¦.Normally I wouldn’t brag about that but in the whole world, he is my model. He’s graceful, serene and all about being the bad boy, too.”
The smart money bets that Potter will have plenty more household name artists seek her out in the coming months. Ever since Grace Potter & the Nocturnals burst onto the scene in 2007 after signing with Hollywood Records, they’ve caused a ruckus among music lovers.
Now that she’s done a duet with Kenny Chesney on the song “Hemingway’s Whiskey,” the title track of Chesney’s new album that was released September 28th, the buzz is louder than ever.
“It still feels really fresh to me,” said Potter of the song and her excitement at his request for her to join him in song. “When [Kenny] emailed and asked me to join him, I couldn’t stop thinking of [his] song ‘She Thinks my Tractor is Sexy.'”
Although she knew of Chesney’s talent, Potter said she was wasn’t prepared for the beauty of “Hemingway’s Whiskey.”
“It was stripped down and beautiful,” she said. “[I especially loved] the really nice, subtle drums. I thought the song was just magic as it was¦.[For the full version] they didn’t want it too fancy or over produced or polished. I felt it was the perfect song for me to be a part of and it was a bit of a departure for Kenny, something his voice fits perfectly into¦.He’s such an amazing vocalist.”
Although her goal is to tour with Chesney, for right now Potter is focused on her own tours and promoting the band’s self-titled album that was released in June. The Vermont-based group’s new line up has made it more hard-charging and working with producer Mark Batson has finally propelled Grace Potter & the Nocturnals into a musical space they’ve always wanted to inhabit.
“This is just what I always wanted,” said Potter of the sound. “This album was almost 10 years in the making and it’s exciting to absorb it¦.The band is my focal point right now.”
And it’s on fire, with players grabbing sounds from each other and advancing them in certain ways, which gives the music elasticity. That’s why the music might take on more of a country vibe at a Nashville concert but add dollops of soul when they take a Memphis stage.
“We are very much a chameleon band,” said Potter. “I celebrate that we have this gray area. Our show has changed to [not just incorporate more] country but bringing around sexy style too. I’m not afraid to shake it and dance on stage.”
Grace Potter & the Nocturnals are on tour. For a complete list of dates and cities, check here.
By Nancy Dunham
Nancy Dunham writes about music for Country Weekly, AOL Music’s site The Boot, The Washington Post, Relix and other publications.
Check out Grace Potter and the Nocturnals’ new video for Paris (Ooh La La) below, and see vintage Grace in a video interview on OurStage from 2008.