OFFSTAGE: Why Grace Potter Joined Kenny Chesney’s Tour

(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)

Grace Potter & the Nocturnals are on tour with Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw this summer but they’re not a country band. So why did Chesney add them?

“Kenny sees that so much of music is colliding these days, and usually beautifully. There are a lot of broad sweeping changes happening and all those lines are getting blurred. And he saw that the missing link on tour was the straight ahead rock and roll band,” Potter told me right after her set at the Chicago stop on Saturday (July 7).

But she added that at the heart of it, she thinks Chesney just wanted to have a buddy on the road. (“I am like the little sister of the sun. I’m like the weird little sister,” she laughed.) And now that the Nocturnals have a string of shows under their belt, they’re getting used to seeing the fans go insane for Chesney and McGraw.

“I love that we’re here. To see the fans who are so in love with Kenny and Tim’s music — they know every word. No one knows our words. But I love the fresh feeling you get when no one knows anything about you,” Potter said.

Even with the influence Chesney’s sound could potentially have on her songwriting, she told me she has no intention of going country, but that she might stumble into a country song someday.

“I know what feels right to me, and it’s just about song. Not really about genre,” she said. “I’m sure when I leave this tour and start writing for the next record, it’s gonna sound all kinds of country.”

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.