Grace Potter and the Nocturnals return to Vail |

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals return to Vail

Charlie Owen
VAIL CO, Colorado
CVR Grace Potter KA 4-15-11

Guess which band playing Spring Back to Vail this year just performed for President Obama.

OK, we’ll make it easy for you; it was Grace Potter and the Nocturnals.

“We got asked to play a 45-minute set … and right after we got to meet the president and do a photo op with him,” said Scott Tournet, guitar player for Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. “It was awesome, a big honor.”

I guess you know you’ve made it at that point. Of course, this band has been getting quite a bit of attention for a while now. They’ve been touring nonstop for years and have had songs featured on TV shows like “One Tree Hill,” “ER,” and “Grey’s Anatomy” and played live on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and “Good Morning America.” They’ve released five albums and are about to release another this June titled “The Lion The Beast The Beat,” an album that Tournet said was about morality’s shades of gray.

“Musically it drifts into a lot of different places,” Tournet said. “It’s the first album we didn’t let a producer take reins of and we really got deep into it.”

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals have been labeled a jam band, a country band, a blues band and a rock band. Tournet said they defy a solid definition because they just keep making music that they like, regardless of the genre or type.

“We just try to please ourselves,” Tournet said. “Now we’re just at a point where it’s like this is our life, this is what we do, we love it, we’re proud of it, and we work hard.”

And for those of you who don’t remember, they played at Spring Back to Vail last year, too.

“That was fun last year,” Tournet said. “We had heaters going on stage and guitars going out of tune, it was cool, man.”

It was an easy decision to have Grace Potter and the Nocturnals back, according to Adam Sutner, director of sales and marketing for Vail.

“They were great last year and the crowd loved them,” Sutner said.

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals is just one of many bands playing this year’s end of the season concert series. They kick off four days of free concerts night. Following them will be performances by world music DJ duo Thievery Corporation, blues-rockers JJ Gray and Mofro and reggae band Iration. Local acts like Bonfire Dub, The Sessh and Schwing Daddy will also perform.

Promoters make sure it’s a diverse lineup, to try to reach as many people as possible.

“We try to have an eclectic mix,” Sutner said. “Vail has a disparate audience as far as age and demographics and we try to have bands that represent different musical tastes. It’s never going to be a uniform approach; we’ll always have different genres represented.”

Of course, it wouldn’t be Spring Back to Vail without the World Pond Skimming Championships at Golden Peak, set for Sunday, Vail’s closing day. If you’ve never witnessed this competition, you’ve got to see it to believe it. There’s something pretty darn entertaining about watching a bunch of people dressed in crazy costumes try to get across a large pool of water on skis and snowboards, and pretty much wrecking themselves for other peoples enjoyment. Priceless.

Vail resident and professional skier Chris Anthony will be forerunning the course again this year, which means he’ll be first to skim the pond. He said he’ll attempt to complete his run with a point of view camera and probably dress in a jester costume.

“I am an addict to the tradition, which has been around for much longer than I have,” Anthony said. “But I do believe it is one of those symbolic events that transfers us from winter to summer. It’s an opportunity for people to not only to express themselves, but also one that gives you the opportunity to see if what you are about to do is possible.”

Sutner said that pond skimming has become a very iconic event for the mountain and is a big part of the Spring Back to Vail experience.

“The competitors are unbelievably entertaining and it’s just become a tradition,” Sutner said.

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