According to Vermont’s largest daily newspaper, Bassist Bryan Dondero is departing from the popular VT band, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, raising some issues that he had with the band and their creative direction. The recent move has forced the band to cancel several shows (Revolution Hall in Troy, NY on March 25th; The 8×10 in Baltimore, MD on March 26th; and Mr. Small’s in Millvale, PA on March 27th) that were coming at the end of the month, although there is no word as to whether the band will continue at Bonnaroo.
The article cited Dondero’s displeasure with the band’s move to a major record label in 2007 for their fantastic album This Is Somewhere, which marked a noted change from funk-soul in the band’s style to something more along the likes of classic rock. In the article, he stated: “I was always a little skeptical, they’re owned by Disney.” He then goes on to note that he and Potter disagreed on several points, and that he felt that he was going to be asked to leave the band.
This is a bit surprising, at least to me. I’ve been a huge fan of the Nocturnals since I started listening to them several years ago, and being from the same place, and indeed, attending the same high school as Grace, it’s been absolutely fantastic to see the band grab so much attention as they have in the past couple of years. The group has largely been seen to have been a great creative force, and it’s unclear as to how this will affect the band, especially as they are working on their next major record label album.
This also brings up the argument about indie vs. major label records. Obviously, there is far more creative control when it comes to an independant record, as the band found with their first two albums, which gained them quite a bit of notice around the state, and only with the major record, were they able to gain even more attention on a nation-wide level, especialy with appearances on Jay Leno, Grey’s Anatomy and One Tree Hill.
That being said, Potter’s latest single, I Want Something I Want is a huge departure from her normal style, and even I’ve been a little disapointed with the stylistic change here – it’s an incredibly shallow and pop-ish song, far below what we’ve come to expect from her. It’s not a bad song alone, but within the context of what we’ve heard before, it doesn’t come close. However, the Nocturnals are on the rise, and it should come to no surprise that they will have to sacrifice some style and independance for the attention. While it’s not a good situation, they can do far more later on, as well as with their live shows, which are incredibly energetic and exciting to watch.
I really hope that the Nocturnals will find another bassist in the near future, so that they can continue to play around the area, as well as complete their new album, but I hope that they won’t forget their Vermont roots and where they came from, because that would be an enormous amount of talent that would be squandered with the regular, consumer level music. The Nocturnals are much better than that. I also hope that this doesn’t spell any more problems for the band, because I’ll be very, very sad if they break apart.