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John Lamb, Published January 23 2013

Grace Potter keeps her cool with celebrity collaborations

If you go

What: Grace Potter & the Nocturnals with Langhorne Slim

When: 8 tonight, doors open at 7.

Where: The Venue at The Hub, 2525 9th Ave. S., Fargo

Info: Tickets are $28. Additional fees may apply. (866) 300-8300.


When they take the stage at the Venue tonight, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals will check North Dakota, their 49th state to play, off of their list, leaving only Hawaii to conquer.

Playing Fargo in the middle of winter isn’t daunting for the Vermont-raised rock singer.

“Coming from a northern part of the country, I know when it’s cold out people just want to rage and dance and get warm and feel the love,” says Potter

Spreading the love is something the singer has been doing a lot of. Both on stage and in the studio, Potter is gaining a reputation for getting around – in a musical way.

Live she has mixed it up with acts as diverse as jam band Gov’t Mule, psychedelic rockers Flaming Lips and as traditional as the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

She started a good-natured Twitter exchange with The Roots band leader ?uestlove earlier this month. Potter was the musical guest on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” and moments before playing her hit “Stars” with the group, the singer plucked the drummer’s ever-present hair pick from his trademark afro.

“Such great musicians,” she says of The Roots, Fallon’s house band. “Never has a band been such a backbone on a TV show and that’s so exciting. Late Night TV is not an easy business and Jimmy is doing well and I think The Roots are a big part of that.”

Her best-known partnership came with someone she knew little about, recording “You and Tequila”

with country crooner Kenny Chesney.

“He became a friend and I became a fan after the fact,” Potter says about Chesney. “I didn’t know (anything) about Kenny Chesney when he asked me to sing ‘You and Tequila’. I knew he was the ‘She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy’ guy and that was it. He was so wonderfully nice and the song was so undeniably good that I said yes to it.”

Chesney returned the favor by singing on a version of “Stars” for the deluxe edition of her 2012 disc, “The Lion the Beast the Beat.” That version of the disc also includes a duet on “Ragged Company” with Willie Nelson, a pairing that had been on her wish list.

Despite all the recent Nashville exposure, the singer/guitarist known for rocking her signature flying V, doesn’t see a country album in her immediate future.

“If I made a country record, it wouldn’t be a country record at that point,” she says, referring the musical boundaries being so blurred in contemporary country music. “It would be a folky Americana record. If I did it my way, it certainly wouldn’t be a commercially pronounced pop country record. It would be something darker and weirder and a little more on the Loretta Lynn angle.”

Instead, the roots rocker sees a dance re-mix of her music coming first. She liked the effect Black Keys’ singer Dan Auerbach added with a drum loop on her song “Never Go Back.”

“One of the things I’ve always wanted to do is collaborate with a DJ and get a really cool remix of one of our existing songs,” Potter says. “I love Ellie Goulding’s song ‘Lights,’ but I like it so much better when it got remixed.”

With all of these star encounters, does she ever almost lose her cool?

“Almost lose it? More like lose it completely. Robert Plant. Lost it. Lost it. Full sexual advance. I almost basically propositioned him to go to the bathroom (to have sex) right there,” the 29-year-old says of the 64-year-old Led Zeppelin front man. “He’s Robert Plant, man. He was already hip to my scene and that was very exciting.”

Her collaborations aren’t all strictly musical. In 2010 she teamed up with the Vermont confectioner Lake Champlain Chocolates for Grace Under Fire, a dark chocolate bar with pistachios and red pepper flakes.

So what pairs well with a rocking chocolate bar?

“Obviously a glass of red wine.” She says, recommending a Bordeaux. “Nice and dry, plays off the cinnamon and vanilla undertones of the chocolate bar.”

While she’s got a rocking reputation, she doesn’t have a drink named after her – yet.

“It would have to have a kick to it. I think it would be tequila, lemon, lime and chili pepper with a crushed kumquat and a splash of bitters,” she says. “Since not that many people know my name it might be called a Burning Grace.”