All Access: Grace Potter & The Nocturnals

Mar 1, 2011 9:00 AM, Photos and Text By Steve Jennings


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Grace Potter performing live

Grace Potter performing live

Making a name for themselves on the jam-band and festival circuit in 2008/2009, the formerly four-piece Grace Potter & The Nocturnals (the band brought in bassist Cat Popper, who had played with Ryan Adams & The Cardinals, and guitarist Benny Yurco in 2009) are touring mid-sized venues for their new, self-titled release. Mix caught up with the band and slimmed-down crew at the Fillmore Auditorium (S.F.).

Front-of-house engineer Sam Leonard is relying on house-provided production and monitor engineer. He requests an Avid VENUE SC48 board, citing its small footprint and ease of use as pluses. “The control surface responds well to the touch, and the layout allows me to quickly navigate for adjustments,” Leonard says. In the analog domain, he asks for a Midas Heritage 3k, noting that the warmth of the mic pre’s and the EQ is hard to beat. “When it comes to plug-ins,” Leonard says, “I like Line 6 Echo Farm Vintage. I also love anything from Waves; their C6 multiband compressor, the L3 Ultramaximizer and the MaxxBass are all really impressive. For rack gear, I am a big fan of the TC Electronics D2 for outboard delays. I also love their Reverb 4000 unit. The Lexicon PCM 92 is another favorite.”

While it is P.A. du jour, Leonard’s top P.A. choices include JBL VerTec, Meyer Sound MILO or MICA, or an Electro-Voice, d&b or Clair Global system. The band has about 10 wedges onstage. “Our show is high-energy rock and the levels can get loud,” he says. “We are just about to implement [Westone] IEMs for most of the band. Mixing the band is quite fun. They give me flexibility and allow me liberties with producing the live mix, and in the end, we always make it fun.”

Front-of-house engineer Sam Leonard

Front-of-house engineer Sam Leonard

Vocal mics are Telefunken M80s. FOH engineer Sam Leonard says he enjoys how they let the vocals really sit on top of the live mix.

Guitarist Scott Tournet’s pedal gear includes a Fulltone Fulldrive 2 Overdrive, Boss FV-500L Volume Pedal, Cusack Screamer Fuzz, Electro-Harmonix Nano Holy Grail reverb and a Line 6 M9 multi-effects processor.

Grace Potter’s keyboard is a vintage Hammond B3 with a Leslie cabinet. Her only pedal is an Electro-Harmonix Nano Holy Grail.

Guitarist Ben Yurco’s footpedal gear comprises a Boss TU-3 Tuner, Cusack Screamer V2 Overdrive, Xotic Effects EP Booster, Ernie Ball Volume pedal, Boss TR-2 Tremolo, Ibanez AD9 analog delay and an MXR Carbon-Copy analog delay.

Grace Potter’s keyboard is a vintage Hammond B3 with a Leslie cabinet. Her only pedal is an Electro-Harmonix Nano Holy Grail.

Mics for Matt Burr’s kit include AKG D112 (kick inside); Shure Beta 52 (kick outside), SM57 (snare top), Beta 57A (snare bottom), SM81 (hi-hat) and KSM 32s (overheads); and Sennheiser 604 (rack tom and floor tom, both bottom heads removed and miked from below).

Bassist Catherine Popper is using an Ampeg SVT Classic head and 8x10 cabinet. Grace plays a mid-’60s Fender Vibrolux Reverb, which is usually mic’d with an SM57. She does not use any pedals other than a Boss TU-3 tuner, preferring to go directly into the front end of an Ampeg head.

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