Potter finds success with music 

To outsiders, it might have appeared like a kooky, spooky Addams Family existence. But for blues-rock singer Grace Potter, who opens for Gov’t Mule at the Fillmore on Saturday night, growing up in her father Sparky’s unusual Waitsfield, Vt., art enclave Potterville felt normal, relatively speaking.

"You have to keep in mind that there are a lot of us Addamses out there in Vermont. I mean, Warren, the next town over, has the highest per capita architect concentration in the world. And these aren’t just regular architects. They’re the crazy ones, who are always building the wildest stuff. So there are a lot of wackos in my neighborhood. But good wackos. Successful wackos."

But Potter loved playing Wednesday Addams to her dad’s eccentric Gomez. Before he fell into his current career of hand-carved sign making, he ran a hippie-ish multimedia collective called Dream On Productions, which attempted such outrageous feats as plastering a 4-acre U.S. flag across New York’s Verrazano bridge for the 1976 bicentennial.

"When the wind picked up to 12 or 13 knots, the flag started acting as a sail and began pulling the bridge down. They had to cut that flag into a million pieces that went floating away down the river," says Grace, so proud of the undertaking she featured one of her father’s flag/bridge photos on the cover of "This Is Somewhere," her latest effort with her backing band the Nocturnals.

"Every time my parents wanted to start a new venture, they’d just construct a new building for it, until Potterville turned into this multiple-house setting for the creation of art and music," says Potter, 24, who was encouraged to experiment with any expressive medium she wanted.

She started with a melting-crayons phase, destroying her mother’s prize Maxfield Parrish print in the process. "And I tried to get into art school twice, but they didn’t want me," she admits.

Instead, she formed a mural-painting contract company with her sister, then entered college to study filmmaking. She penned several screwball-comedy scripts, and made three short films, "The White Stuff," "The Blue Stuff" and "The Red Stuff."

By 2004, the auteur’s love of music won out. On guitar and keyboards, she formed her own Potterville-based label, Ragged Company (now licensed through Hollywood), self-produced two albums — "Original Soul," "Nothing But The Water" — and booked her own tours, as well.

Her propensity for long jams soon earned her a Dave Matthews-loyal following, and Little Feat-funky "Somewhere" tracks such as "Apologies" and "Ah Mary" don’t stray far from that path. Her songs have also found their way onto "Grey’s Anatomy" and "American Idol."

But the Renaissance woman insists she has more artistic outlets left. She’d love to audition for the "Saturday Night Live" cast, she says.

"And I also really, really want to be a cartoon voice; my agent knows that, too. And anything’s possible right now. But honestly, out of all the things I’m excited about, there’s nothing that I’m as excited about as music. And there’s nothing that comes as easy to me."

IF YOU GO

Grace Potter

Where: The Fillmore, 1805 Geary Blvd., San Francisco

When: 9 p.m. today

Tickets: $35

Contact: (415) 421-8497 or www.ticketmaster.com

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Staff Report

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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