Janis Joplin, Wendy O. Williams, Bonnie Raitt, Joan Jett, Courtney Love ... their names belong right up there with the hardest-working, hardest-rocking men. Granted, the list of well-known, well-respected female rockers isn't as long as it should be, and of the few who do reach the top, too many find the lights too bright to bear, and either fade into obscurity or disappear all together. But once in a while, a woman such as 24-year-old Grace Potter comes along and offers up music so honest and pure, it's as though she's always been here and always will.
With their breakout release, This Is Somewhere, Vermont-based Potter—who plays a Hammond B3 and is, incidentally, legally blind—and her band the Nocturnals—guitarist Scott Tournet, drummer Matt Burr and bassist Bryan Dondero—have defined in sound what American rock is: an amalgamation of influences as diverse as the people who create it. Potter's voice moves seamlessly from lows to highs, whispers to growls and crystal-clear notes to muddy, bluesy belts. Potter's voice combined with the band's elements of blues, roots, rock, country and a little pop, and a tour schedule that would have made James Brown blush, are quickly making Grace Potter and the Nocturnals a name to remember.
Feb. 4, 6 p.m., FREE, Record Exchange, 1105 W. Idaho St., 208-344-8010. Feb. 5, with the North Mississippi All-Stars and Alvin Youngblood Hart, 8 p.m., $16.50, The Big Easy, 416 S. 9th St., 208-367-1212.