Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Jenni Potts at the American Museum of Radio and Electricity, Bellingham, Washington July 18 2008

(This one kind of ticked me off a little. I drove all the way from Vancouver, Washington to Bellingham, Washington, from one end of the state of the other, and we forgot to include it in the issue. Jenni's publicist kept asking me when it was going to appear, I kept bugging Jeff...and it still never appeared. I did a full-feature interview with Jenni and reviewed her CD, but Ben Fong-Torres thought we were kind of ODing on Jenni that issue. We were supposed to put it on the website, but never did. Sorry, Jenni!)

With her platinum blond locks and her fairy wings, singer-songwriter Jenni Potts didn't quite blend into the crowd at the American Museum of Radio and Electricity. As a full-fledged member of Bellingham's close-knit music scene (Death Cab for Cutie, The Posies, Idiot Pilot, The Trucks), she sat politely in the front row and supported fellow acts Jonathan McIntyre and the Oregon Donors alternate between moody, reflective folk (the former) and raucous indy post-punk (the latter). Once she took to the stage, however, she owned the place, and not just because she decorated the stage to look just like her living room.

Potts was celebrating the release of her new CD, Take This and Go (Clickpop CP008), and was joined by her backing band, known as The Twitterpated. The combination of drums, bass and vibraphone perfectly complemented Potts' dreamy yet urgent voice as well as her accomplished strumming on acoustic guitar. (Like a Hawaiian slack key guitarist, Jenni changed her tunings on nearly every song.) Starting with the opening cut of the CD, “Pro LC,” Potts displayed a level of charisma and confidence uncommon for a new artist that had just turned 21 the week before.

The central portion of the show featured Potts alone with her guitar. With her short video Pretty Things playing on a screen behind her, she remained forceful and commanding, and seemed much more compelling than any cute-girl-with-a-guitar has a right to be. The front doors of the AMRE opened out into the streets of Bellingham, and I watched as at least 20 people walked past, stopped, listened to Jenni and then immediately paid to get in and see the rest of the show. I don't think I've ever seen that happen before.

Potts does tend to stick to her corner of the world (and a corner it is, indeed, with Bellingham being just 18 miles from the Canadian border), so it doesn't make sense to tell you to see her when she comes around. But I have a feeling that her new CD will create a lot of buzz, and with buzz comes opportunity for greater exposure. If you live in the Pacific Northwest, see her now before she gets too popular and starts booking the bigger venues.

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