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Nocturnals Rising

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Our girl, Grace Potter, and her band, the Nocturnals, are blowing up, as they say in the music biz. Their major label release, This is Somewhere, is gaining national airplay, and, over the past month, the band has been all over the tube, including appearances on Jay Leno, Craig Ferguson and the Morning Show.

It couldn't be happening to a more deserving local band or a nicer bunch of people. I had the chance to see them a few times at Nectars a couple of years ago, when they were booked every Wednesday night during a frigid January. They blew the room away week after week. I couldn't believe the depth of soul coming out of, then, 22 year-old Grace, this fresh-faced Vermonter (she grew up in Waitsfield.) She and her kicking band ripped it up and owned the stage. I think all of us in the crowd knew how lucky we were to experience this act in cozy Nectars; with their overflowing talent it was just a matter of time before they vastly outgrew these little townie venues.

The first track from the new album that's being pushed is "Ah Mary," which Grace has described as her first political song. It's a triumph, an instant classic, and it breaks my heart every time I hear it. It perfectly captures the pain and terrible irony of the last six years. Because, at this point, for many of us who love this country, it's gone beyond anger. We're heartbroken. For me, the key lyric is, She's the beat of my heart, she's the shot of the gun. And, at the end of the song, when Grace finally says it - Ah Mary, ah Mary, America - I get goosebumps everytime. What a powerful, heartfelt anti-war anthem, just when we need it. And what guts for the band and their label to showcase this song in a time of lingering political oppression and censoreship. They've done Vermont proud.

One thing about "Grace as a sex symbol," something that's been much talked about in the press, including a great, playful piece by Dan Bolles in the current issue of Seven Days.Yeah, Grace is sexy as all get-out. If you have a pulse, it's undeniable. But, she's earthy and natural, and it's clear that the sexuality she brings to her performance is not an artifice. It's just a beautiful, expressive young woman being who she is, unafraid and powerfully. And, as she said in Dan's interview, she's always been a "glamour puss" so glamming it up comes naturally to her, not something new she's now using to raise the band's profile. So, I say:  Go, Gracie, go!

Here's the lyrics to "Ah Mary" and the youtube of a recent performance.

She's skilled at the art of deception and she knows it
She's got dirty money that she plays with all the time
She waters the garden but maybe she just likes the hoses
She puts herself just a notch above humankind
Ah Mary
She'll make you cookies
Then she'll burn your town
Ah Mary
Ashes ashes but she won't fall down
She's the beat of my heart
She's the shot of a gun
She'll be the end of me
And maybe everyone
Call her a bully she'll blow up your whole damn playground
Pour her a drink and watch it go straight to her head
She'll take you so high up and cover her eyes as you fall down
Then in the morning don't be surprised if you're
dead
Ah Mary
She'll bake you cookies
Then she'll burn your town
Ah Mary
Ashes ashes but she won't fall down
She's the beat of my heart
She's the shot of a gun
She'll be the end of me
And maybe everyone
Ah Mary, Mary Mary - America

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