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Ten songs that shaped Grace Potter’s sound

NASHVILLE TN - NOVEMBER 09:  Grace Potter Kenny Chesney perform 45th annual CMA Awards Bridgestone ArenNovember 9 2011 Nashville

NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 09: Grace Potter and Kenny Chesney perform at the 45th annual CMA Awards at the Bridgestone Arena on November 9, 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images)

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♦ 7:30 p.m. Jan. 18

♦ Riviera Theatre,
4746 N. Racine


♦ 8:30 p.m., Jan. 19

♦ Park West,
322 W. Armitage

♦ Tickets, $35

♦ (773) 929-1322;

Updated: January 18, 2013 10:56AM

If life on the road is too rigorous for Grace Potter, she hides it well. Potter spent much of 2012 touring in support of “The Lion The Beast The Beat” with her twang-and-bang rock band, The Nocturnals, but she is as relaxed and free-spirited as ever.

The band is happy to embrace both its rock and country influences, and relish the genre-defying ambiguity of its music. Potter has sang with Kenny Chesney and co-written songs with Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys.

She said that when she was growing up in the late 1980s and early ’90s, she was more influenced by her parents’ record collection than the popular music of the time. During her formative years she gravitated toward the music of The Band, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, The Kinks and The Cars.

“All that early material became fodder for my songwriting and continues to be some of the more intrinsic music in our world today,” she said.

Potter said the experience that entrenched her desire to pursue the “rock and roll dream” was when she watched “The Last Waltz”— the Martin Scorsese-directed concert film about The Band’s final performance. She specifically points to the opening song of the film, “Don’t Do It.”

“It was actually the last song of the night, but Scorsese decided to open the film with it,” Potter recalls. “And that energy, and that sweat, and just the pure joy on Levon (Helm)’s face and the faces of everybody in the band—that’s what made me want to be in a rock and roll band.”

The latest leg of the tour brings Potter and the Nocturnals back to Chicago for two shows, Friday (sold out) at the Riviera and Saturday at Park West.

Here are 10 more songs that have inspired Grace Potter:

1. “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” by The Animals

2. “Black & Blue” by Louis Armstrong

3. “Sex Machine” by James Brown

4. “A Change is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke

5. “Bridge Over Troubled Water” as performed by Aretha Franklin

6. “I’ll Be Seeing You” by Billie Holiday

7. “La Vie En Rose” by Edith Piaf

8. “Nice & Easy” by Frank Sinatra

9. “Gimme Shelter” by The Rolling Stones

10. “Walk Don’t Run” by The Ventures

Tony A. Solano is a local free-lance writer.

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